Below are 5 sure-fire signs there are opportunities to get more value out of your business intelligence programs.
Explaining Away Variances In Business Reviews
In the past 6 months you’ve undoubtedly been in a business review when a department head presents contradictory results to the previous presenter and the meeting gets derailed. It’s frustrating for all attendees, and a source of anxiety for their analysts. The promise of business intelligence software is automated, self-serve insights, however, without proper shepherding of data, it can all so astray fast. The fact is, most of the hours worked in the business intelligence industry are dedicated to requirements, data cleansing and taxonomies, and less so creating the perfect algorithm. Chances are you’ll derive much more value out of a cleverly automated recurring ETL than that 1 time research project.
Your Analyst Team Sits In FP&A or worse, IT
Where should an analyst sit in an organization? Answer: they shouldn’t. They should be transient & ubiquitous throughout your company. The most productive business intelligence team is a standalone group, and why I believe they understandably get thrown under FP&A or IT. As an analyst, it’s easier to perceive organizational gaps, and properly convey opportunity as an outside voice. If a user finds themselves manoeuvring multiple reports to get a holistic view of their own operations, it’s due to singular departmental to-do lists for report builders.
You Have Reporting Data Silos
Be it your brand new CRM tool or a financial spreadsheet saved onto someone’s desktop, there is a good chance your data sources aren’t all talking to each other. You have data silos and you will have more in the future. It’s a good thing, so long as you’re doing what you can to utilize them as they come online. By inviting your Business Intelligence team to participate in business planning, you empower them to use every data source to your advantage proactively.
The natural progression of any mission critical report is users asking to add additional details. Analysts add it. They do it again for another stakeholder. Again, and again, and months later, the report which took seconds to render, now suffers from performance issues. Business-facing analysts are constantly bending requirements, and circumventing best practice for sake of a quick turnaround time. When deadlines start getting missed, it’s usually a sign there’s too many steps to ensure manual workarounds are publishing correctly, and its time for new business requirements.
Reports Without Business Objectives
“So what if sales are up 10%? How do I know they shouldn’t be up 50%?”
Pie charts are for presentations. Actionable reporting need objectives. Whether using forecasts, budgets, goals, etc., when there is no aim for achievement, the purpose is just data distribution. The more ambiguity in your report, the less purpose it is perceived to have. The intention should be one of status updates and sharing valuable statistics. Make sure you’re not simply publishing data you have, but communicating information your stakeholders need.