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Using Persona's for a Better BI Experience

While designing an application, people generally tend to forget about the holistic experience and rather lay emphasis to only the nuts-n-bolts. While we are right to lay emphasis on capturing the functional and non-functional requirements what we generally miss out on is the different perspectives that should be looked. There are the sponsors who would broadly define the scope and objectives, the IT department who would have their own list of non-functional requirements and then right at the center the vast array of users. Its almost like a house being built for a thousand people with everyone having their own opinion. You've heard about too many cooks, imagine the same with a thousand residents! You are sure to cry out for help! And help does arrive to an extent with the usage of Personas.

The Thought Behind Persona's

So what are Peronas you might ask. Well they are nothing but fictitious characters (much like the ones created during script readings or trials for a theater show!) and act as subs for the real users. The main aim behind building personas is to define the personality of a particular groups of users by identifying their motives, expectations and goals which drive them. Personas help in keeping the objectives clear and help retain the focus rather than expanding the horizons ever so frequently. They also help uncover information that may previously have remained unearthed and help concentrate on the users needs rather than their wants.

Personas and Design Thinking

The core of design thinking as I understand it is the need to understand the end consumer. This needs to be done in a way which captures 360 information which can provide information on behavior, belief, philosophy along with their motivations and intentions.

As such the personas created should be not be just limited to an individual but the role that they might be fulfilling in the organization. These should capture the individuals demographics, responsibilities at work and job characteristics. They should capture the information needs and data interactions along with the standard Dashboards and Reports used and the typical pain points while using the application.

As you can see, Personas if built correctly can help to quite an extent to gain a more holistic view of the business users requirements compared to the tradition methods adopted. Not only can the design of Dashboard and Reports be facilitated to quite an extent but even the security setup and robustness of the application are captured in quite detail.

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