Looking for some candid opinions...End User Survey

  • Ok, I work for an accounting firm and our end users love data! No surprise there. One thing that I know is that we're not offering very good ad hoc querying capabilities.

    Before doing what we've done in the past, build a system based on what we think they need, I'd like to offer up an up front survey to find where users are having the most difficulty. I want to focus on those users that are taking 3 disparate datasets and "spreadsheeting" (new word) them together. However, I know that this survey will open up a can of worms and am looking for some guidance.

    1. What types of questions should I ask?

    2. How do I set the appropriate expectations that not all responses will be acted upon, but they will be considered?

    On a side note, we're currently building the backend of our data warehouse and I'm hoping this will open up some ad hoc querying abilities...


  • 1. In my experience. You really need to know the business process (i.e., sit down with the end users and see what they do). Managers want summaries. The end users need to build a 'wish' list of what they would like to see.

    2. The end users must realize that all requests will need to prioritized and may not be possible.

  • Direct access to the data by most users is usually not a good idea. Some power users maybe.

    The business needs to define what they want, what kind of information, how it is summarized, and what they want it to contain. All the requests get prioritized and worked on by priority. No users get to do it themselves. They have to follow the process. Also, you don't want to be the sponsor, go as high as you can for a sponsor, don't make it an IT project, it is a business project, they have to give business requirements that can be directly tied to functional requirements and then to deliverables (technical requirements). They sign off on the business requirements and if they change then either the dates change or the number of people working on it change. Requirements don't get to change and keep the same end date, this is a favorite for the users I've dealt with, "what do you mean it will be 10 days later, you promised X date", my response, "I did, right up until change request Y, that we told you would take 11 days to complete, we are even giving it to you a day early." They can complain all they want but changing requirements = changing timelines (usually), because we can't usually throw more people at it with out that 11 day number still ends up being 11 because we have to bring people up to speed.


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