Report Requirements, a Mystery

Sitting down to develop a report and realizing not all the requirements are there can be irritating. Gathering all the requirements when developing a report is crucial. When conversing with users about a new report request, they will often explain the requirements in simple business terms. First, it is important to understand the business need of the report and how it will be used in the organization. Second, a developer should know the appropriate questions to ask to extract crucial information out of the end user.

I am in my second year as a business intelligence developer and I am frequently guilty of not always getting all the requirements I need. When gathering requirements for a new report requests, I ask myself a set of questions and if I cannot answer them I go back to the drawing board as well as converse with the end user. I find this approach useful, so I do not waste valuable development time. I have put together this blog to help developers gather all the necessary requirements.

  • What is the intended purpose of this report?
    • Ex: The business need
  • Who is the audience?
    • Executives/Analysts/End Users
  • How will this report be delivered?
    • Web Intelligence/PDF/Excel/Mobile etc.
  • How will the end users get this report?
    • Self-Service/Emailed Link
  • Where is this data being captured?
    • From a developer’s perspective- How do I pull this data?
  • What period should this report be?
    • Previous Week?
    • Previous Month?
    • Year to date?
  • What query filters should be used to filter down the data set?
    • Cost Center/Department/Specialty
    • Specifications for a population?
  • How do you want this data presented? (Plan this step out on a whiteboard to get a story going)
    • Summarized view with analytics
      • What part of this data is most important to the audience?
    • Table with raw data
      • What fields do you want displayed?
  • What color scheme suits the end user’s company/department?
  • Does this request require a full blown dashboard? Or just a quick summarized Web Intelligence report?

These are the questions that run through my mind when I am receiving a new report request. As I previously said I am in my second year as a business intelligence developer and the list above is derived from my own experiences while in the field. I hope this list guides you in gathering report requirements. If you have another item to add to the list, please feel free to comment below!

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