We helped a team working on a business intelligence strategy project (as a condition of a corporate merger) implement better data governance standards.

Reporting the News


This project was phased in as apart of a multi-year client relationship related to software modernization. The IT team told us workers couldn’t find the report or data they needed in the Microsoft PowerBI system. We were asked to both confirm that users had trouble navigating the system and design a standards guide to be used for the ongoing deployment of a self-service data governance and deployment model. The adoption of PowerBI served as support for decision-making impacts the movement of economically-imperative goods and services around the country. The client needed more efficient ways  to capture and present digital insights to guide their business strategy. 


Opperational Review

We thoroughly reviewed (red-lined) all project documentation including the most frequently used PBI reports, existing PowerBI Rules and Standard Documentation, and training process and procedures. This helped us frame the questions we’d ask when we spoke with the IT stakeholders responsible for deploying all of the connected data into the system.

Stakeholder and User Interviews

We interviewed stakeholders and the business intelligence IT staff. We talked to every user the client asked us to speak with— using a combination of user interview and contextual inquiry techniques. Not a single users said (or showed) they had trouble navigating the system. We did further contextual inquiry with new interviews to find the problems they were asking us to validate.

Design Language System

Finally, we produced a deliverable that would act as a guide for their Power BI standards documents. The design language system included standards for: colors, fonts, naming standards, drill-down principles, in addition to three editable templates.


Despite not having any user-experience evidence to support the fact that users had trouble using the system, we translated learnings into list of general best practices tailored to operational realities of the organization. We were able to produce relevant and usable business intelligence dashboard standards that were flexible enough to meet the needs of the entire organization.

But for us, the story of this project was what happened when we didn’t find what the people who hired us thought we’d find. When they didn’t like the initial findings, they sent us on an errand to do more research.

Surely we’d get the message and tell them what they wanted to hear, right?


We don’t massage our research findings to make our clients happy— no matter how big the client is or how long we’ve had a relationship with them. When we returned the extra research reports they asked for, they still didn’t like what we found because it didn’t confirm what they wanted us to find.

We don’t lie .

If that means we lose a client, then that’s what we do.

We take our role as third-party arbitrators of strategy that seriously.