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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

High Level OBIEE report design strategy

So often an organization will take on the task of installing OBIEE, establishing the infrastructure to support it, and even re-organizing their data appropriately. But when it comes to the actual report design, standards fail to be established, reports and dashboards become awkward and cumbersome, and user adoption suffers.

Since OBIEE is often seen as an Ad-Hoc reporting tool, this problem can often be the result of many developers developing with an Ad-Hoc mentality. The result is mismatched dashboards and confusing layouts. Other times, it’s the result of too many people involved in the development process. Once something gets approved by 15 people in a Power Point mock up, it’s difficult to get changes approved when something doesn’t pan out as expected. As a result, the small imperfections get set aside, but never fail to add up.

The following is a high level list of items to keep in mind when entering the report development stage of any OBIEE project. Keeping each of these items in mind will help you design attractive and useful reports and dashboards, which will ultimately lead to greater user adoption and pervasive use of the tool.

1. Trust your users - If your users don’t use your BI or other technology systems, it’s because they either get no value from it, or the system is too slow. These same users will spend their evenings shopping online and paying bills over the internet. It’s ignorant to believe they can’t use a well designed online reporting tool.

2. Think Insight, not Reports - Take the time to understand what the business user searches for, what they mark up with a yellow highlighter, and what they look at next after discovering an “exception”

3. Move Business Skills into your IT shop, not IT skills into your Business – Make an effort to understand the business needs, and then apply the technology accordingly. Don’t ask the business to “make due” with what IT provides.

4. Design your Dashboard in OBI EE itself using an iterative methodology – Don’t use Power Point to design your reports. Designing directly in OBIEE allows you to know immediately what will and will not work. Plan to make a series of adjustments throughout the design process, using feedback from the business users.

5. Establish a set of standards – If your users can’t derive insight in the first few seconds of looking at a Dashboard, it’s a bad design. This is no longer a world in which IT programmers lead the user’s impression of standards. Amazon, Google, Yahoo!, Apple iPhones, etc. all lead the pack when it comes to quality interfaces and standardized interfaces.


Hardeep said...

A very good article...