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Business Intelligence Dashboard
Decision Support

Need to define business intelligence dashboard requirements for an information management requirements specification and want practical timesaving suggestions?

Decision support projects are a type of information management project. They involve getting the right data, in the right hands, at the right time, to make theBusiness Intelligence Dashboard right decision.

Are they different from business intelligence reporting?

Usually they are interactive and allow users to create “what if” scenarios e.g.

Financial support scenario

Suppose you want to apply for a loan and need to see the impact of paying it off in 5 years, instead of 7 years, or changing the interest rate. An easy solution would let you input your variables and then present the results side by side so you can easily see the impact and make a decision—This type of support can normally be provided by a spreadsheet program.

Inventory support scenario

Suppose a plant manager wants to know the impact of reducing inventory to a minimum and needs some help to decide the minimum level. The manager might need to look at:
  • How long it takes to order raw material;
  • Shipping costs;
  • How long it takes to manufacture the product;
  • The cost of inventory;
  • How long customers normally will wait for a product shipment; and
  • Sales projections for the next twelve months. 
This data can then be analyzed in a variety of ways. It might be less expensive to maintain a minimum inventory level and order raw material by a faster, and more costly, shipping method, than to maintain higher inventory levels.

With the right data, business intelligence dashboard and decision support tools, the plant manager can try different scenarios and see different results before making an appropriate decision.

The data required to satisfy this type of requirement might come from an order system, inventory system, billing system, customer relationship management system and work effort reporting system.

Credit decision scenario

A financial institution might offer customers the option of applying for additional credit on-line and need a decision support system to analyze the application. This decision might be based on a lot of factors such as:
  • Current balances in savings and checking accounts;
  • Credit card transaction history;
  • Credit rating;
  • Credit history; and
  • It might also require looking at results of granting credit to customers with similar credit histories and credit ratings.
Based on all this data, the on-line credit application system will suggest an appropriate interest rate that is appropriate for the perceived risk.

The data to support this decision may come from historical data stored in a data warehouse, from credit rating information purchased from a credit bureau and from on-line data stored in the customer’s savings, checking and credit card account.

How do we determine data requirements?

Business intelligence dashboard requirements are similar to business intelligence reporting requirements. A business intelligence analyst, and data analyst, must work closely with the business team to understand decision-making objectives. The following suggestions provide some things to consider:
  • Review the project objectives stated in the business case;
  • Review the logical data model—This is a starting point to help determine data requirements;
  • Work closely with the business team to gain understanding of what they are trying to accomplish;
  • Review the enterprise data movement model developed as part of the information management framework. This will help confirm if the data is available to meet requirements; and
  • Assess data quality to ensure that information quality is sufficient to support the required decision-making, if not, look for alternate sources
  • User requirements analysis should include a review of decision support requirements.

Business intelligence dashboard and decision support requirements are similar to business intelligence reporting requirements—Depending upon the complexity of the decision, data may be required from historical data storage, such as data warehouses, and on-line applications. It is essential that an experienced business intelligence analyst, data analyst, and the business team develop requirements early in the project.

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