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Business Intelligence software: what you should look for

Business Intelligence software: what you should look for

Thursday 08 January 2015
Author: Olivier

Today’s business intelligence solutions vary hugely in their levels of sophistication and it can be difficult to know what’s right for you. When choosing dashboard software...

Today’s business intelligence solutions vary hugely in their levels of sophistication and it can be difficult to know what’s right for you. When choosing dashboard software, we recommend you bear two key things in mind: accessibility and scope.

Accessibility

This is about making information as easy to get hold of as possible. Bear in mind that a good percentage of your likely audience are unlikely to be tied to the same desk every day. Instead, they will attend many off - site meetings, are rarely seen without their laptop or smartphone and have a strong tendency to work after-hours. Choosing a web-based solution will give these people the flexibility they need to view information when they need it, 24/7. This technology also ensures fast, user-friendly access for everyone else, too.

Scope

Secondly, consider your scope. For dashboards to be really useful, they need to represent the widest possible picture of your business. While it’s tempting to focus solely on (for example) sales figures, doing so will limit the dashboard’s potential. Ultimately, an efficient business has a finance system integrated to all other relevant areas of the organisation. This creates a ‘single view of the truth’ and a dashboard should be no different. An MD for example, would then be able to view all areas of his business within a single tabbed screen, with one-click access to all relevant KPIs and drill down to more detailed information.

You can literally chart any area of your organisation that generates data – a good vendor will work closely with you to identify which are the most critical. Here are just a few examples to get you started:

  • HR (daily absence report, appraisals complete/pending, recruitment spend by department) See an example
  • Customer Service (call statuses, fault fixing, outstanding calls by product)
  • Sales (orders received, top ten customers, active sites, customers on stop) See an example
  • Finance (core revenue reports e.g. revenue vs. budget, turnover by office, debtor pile by age, cash and bank balances) projections and forecasts with actual versus budgets and re-forecasts. See an example
  • Marketing (lead generation by month, enquiries per day, meetings booked, budget spend)
    Project Management (milestone vs. project hours).

To summarise: when choosing dashboard software, it’s important to focus on the business as a whole. Choosing a web-based solution will maximise its use to the broadest range of people and ensuring that you can pull data from multiple databases will give you the broadest picture of all your operational activity.

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