Why You Should Use Business Requirements

by Jan 29, 2020

In the last post of this blog series on being success­ful with digital analyt­ics, I shared my thoughts on align­ing your team with its stakeholders/executives around website/mobile app busi­ness objec­tives. That is akin to making sure that you are all on a boat or plane and agree on the desti­na­tion. But there are many differ­ent ways to get from point A to point B, so busi­ness objec­tives have to be broken down into more tangi­ble compo­nents. This is where busi­ness require­ments enter the picture.

Over the years, when I have been brought in to help orga­ni­za­tions strug­gling with digital analyt­ics, one of the first things I ask to see is the list of busi­ness require­ments that is driving their digital analyt­ics imple­men­ta­tion. As I mentioned in a the SDR post, the normal response is to provide a Solu­tion Design Refer­ence (SDR) spread­sheet. But knowing what you have tagged will not help you meet the busi­ness objec­tives discussed in the last post. That is like saying your boat is trying to get from point A to point B and here are the gauges and buttons on the captain’s deck that you have to use. What you really need is a map or a compass to get you where you are going.

Busi­ness require­ments are the conduit between busi­ness objec­tives and the detailed data points in your imple­men­ta­tion. They artic­u­late the specific busi­ness needs or ques­tions that your team feels it needs to answer in order to advise on the higher-level busi­ness objec­tives. For example, let’s say that one of your organization’s busi­ness objec­tives is to reduce costs incurred by provid­ing real-time chat support to customers. If you were taking the SDR approach to your imple­men­ta­tion, you might decide to tag the follow­ing on your site:

  • Chats Started (metric that fires when real-time chats are used)
  • Chats Engaged (metric that fires when user selects purpose and begins typing)
  • Chat Type (dimen­sion that captures the reason for the chat from a pick­list within the chat tool)

These three data points would be imple­mented and then data would start pouring in. But what would your analysts then do with this infor­ma­tion? Would they know where to start? Would any analy­sis they do on the data be in line with the needs or expec­ta­tions of your stake­hold­ers? Maybe, maybe not.

But what if you first focused on busi­ness requirements/questions instead of diving right into tagging? Imagine that your team did a quick brain­storm of all of the ques­tions that you’d like to have the answer to related to real-time chat in order to come up with stake­holder recom­men­da­tions. Off the top of my head I can think of a few ques­tions:

  1. How often are visi­tors using real-time chat?
  2. How much money is real-time chat costing the orga­ni­za­tion each day?
  3. What is the chat/visit ratio for the website overall?
  4. On what pages is real-time chat being used most often?
  5. What page flows or jour­neys are result­ing in the most real-time chats?
  6. What types of ques­tions are visi­tors asking most often in real-time chats?
  7. Have visi­tors using real-time chat also used the onsite search func­tion? If so, how many minutes was it between the search and the chat? What search terms most often were used leading up to chats?

I am sure there are many more that could be added to the list. But if you took this list to some of your inter­nal stake­hold­ers and got their feed­back and their guid­ance, you could then prior­i­tize them and have a map that can guide your analy­sis on the subject. You already know that the overall objec­tive is impor­tant through the exer­cise from the busi­ness objec­tives post. Now you are confirm­ing with your stake­hold­ers the tactics you will use to zero in on the issue. Then, and only then, should you begin doing incre­men­tal tagging. In this case, if you are already track­ing pages, inter­nal search, etc., you may end up in the same place (imple­ment­ing two new metrics and one new dimen­sion for chats), but now you know exactly WHY you are doing it and have align­ment and buy-in from your inter­nal customers.

While the differ­ence can be subtle, I have found that it makes all the differ­ence in the world. Busi­ness require­ments allow you to have a common language with your stake­hold­ers (most of whom tune out when they hear terms like eVars!). They know what your team is working on and what to expect after tagging and analy­sis is complete.

Action Items

For your home­work assign­ment, I’d like you to start think­ing about your busi­ness require­ments using the follow­ing steps:

  • Take your list of busi­ness objec­tives from the last post and in a spread­sheet begin writing down any busi­ness ques­tions that you and your team can think of that might be of inter­est related to each busi­ness objec­tive.
  • For each busi­ness ques­tion you iden­tify, next to it in the spread­sheet, explain why you think it would be helpful and/or what you would do with the data that answered the ques­tion if you had it today.
    • Next week, I will dig deeper into how to create your full busi­ness require­ments list includ­ing the items you iden­tify in the preced­ing assign­ment.

    We’re here to help you through this.

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