If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. -Albert Einstein
The right question can be a disruptive agent, cutting through years of complacency to redirect a team or a company’s focus. Sometimes I think the ideal superpower for a data analyst or data scientist is the ability to ask all the right questions.
So, what are the questions you need to ask before you embark on a data project?
In the book Profit Impact of Business Intelligence, Steve and Nancy Williams suggest asking the following 7 questions about your organization’s BI needs.
- What business information do you need?
- For what business analyses?
- In support of what key business decisions?
- That impact which core processes?
- To deliver how much business value?
- Via what changes to people, process and technology?
- And what are our competitors doing with BI?
While these questions are deceptively simple – most data initiatives can’t or don’t answer them with any level of clarity. It is not vitally important to know what your competitors are doing but the remaining questions (1-6) are pertinent and should be addressed. Documenting your responses before starting a project will help you get a higher return on your investment.