Reporting is a major aspect of Business Intelligence (BI) and it’s possible to utilize the Agile Methodology when creating/editing reports. A report should always answer a particular question for the business: Who are the top customers by sales? How many accounts did we lose this year? What is our most profitable item by state? Etc. Without Agile BI, a report can be created based on a vague request by the users, who are not always sure about the true need of the business.
Agile methodology allows formulating that question to be SMART*, resulting in a report delivering the best possible answer. If the report fails to answer any question, then it is of no use and is yet another useless spreadsheet that someone will need to work on. Agile business intelligence helps us get away from this scenario by enabling the developers to interact with and give regular demos to the business quickly.
Just like a recipe needs changes to adhere to the taste of a particular chef, the same can be said about Agile BI. The basic rules remain the same but certain aspects of the methodology need to be tweaked when reporting is involved. In the case of BI reporting, the focus is not on a particular product but involves delivering various reports that are mostly independent of each other. The reports are deployed independently, so at the end of the process, reports answering that big question can be deployed into action.
Traditionally, business intelligence developers spend lot of time mapping data sources and creating pseudo designs before the start of development; and quite often the design has to be changed. Agile BI makes this process better by allowing developers the ability to break down the report into smaller solutions that can be deployed after approval. By breaking down a report into smaller solutions, the business receives insight into the capabilities of the tool used to create the report . It also helps to finalize requirements or scope of the report.
Author Experience: I have encountered multiple occasions where the business has completely revamped the requirements because their initial thought did not answer the question at hand. With agile business intelligence, I was able to deliver a report that satisfied all of their needs because of the constant communication that Agile BI provides. If this was waterfall, we would have spent months on the project before discovering the same result and changing the requirements over and over would have added additional time.
*SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.