A storyboard is a blueprint of drawings/ideas in a specific sequence to illustrate a story. Let’s take the Pixar film Toy Story as an example (I have a two-year-old and admittedly have watched this movie more than the hairs on my head). Before they ever began animating with the design software, they made simple sketches of the characters and scenes. Why? So that everyone was on board with the idea BEFORE getting into the more laborious phase in the process.
Creating reports, dashboards and stored processes works the same way! As a BI user, we need to take the same approach – storyboard it. What do you want to learn from the data? By asking that simple question, you are setting a solid foundation for building your BI reports.
I tuned in to the live webinar at SAS Global Forum 2012 titled “Building Better Business Intelligence with SAS.” The webcast featured SAS expert and author Tricia Aanderud, co-author Angela Hall and SAS Education Director Eric Rossland. Stacy Hobson, Director of Customer Retention at SAS, led the discussion on everything hot in Business Intelligence. The advice that came up most often was, “Start with the whiteboard.” It’s very easy to get excited about the software and just dive right in, but setting that strong foundation is vital.
How do we do this?
STEP 1: Know the data.
STEP 2: Make sure that discussions are happening between the user and the developer. The user needs to be engaged from the beginning of the process. What questions do you need answered? How will these reports be used? How does the information need to be displayed? These types of questions not only create a clear line of communication, but can also save a lot of time for the developer. The goal is for the developer to create a usable system for the user.
So don’t be afraid to take the storyboard approach. Map out exactly what you want to learn from your data before diving into the software. In Buzz Lightyear’s words, with a strong storyboard, your data can go “to infinity and beyond!”
Resources that were discussed during the webinar include Tricia and Angela’s new book titled “Building Business Intelligence Using SAS: Content Development Examples” and the fast track course Creating Business Intelligence for your Organization. Both are great tools for BI Content Developers who are entering into the wonderful world of BI content development.