We often talk about the difference between “street smarts” and “book smarts,” leaning heavily toward one over the other depending on the situation. While both are helpful in different ways in the business world, there’s also the rising popularity of business intelligence, or BI. This process is actually driven by technology and presents a process for analyzing data and presenting information in a way that executives can take action on for informed decisions.
BI systems include a lot of business benefits, including real-time data, improved insight into finances and systems, and perhaps most enticing, automation of complex reports.
Reporting processes can be the bane of a company’s existence because it takes a considerable amount of time to generate and validate data. Then the data needs to be put into a spreadsheet—often manually—for further data manipulation in order to create the report. It can take hours to manually build a report. And if you later find an error in your data, it’s back to the drawing board to unravel the entire report and find the proverbial needle in a data haystack to correct and move on.
But with business intelligence, you could run even your most complicated report with a single mouse click.
Automate Standard Reports Right out of the Box
Most BI systems draw data directly from the ERP system, ensuring both real-time and accurate information. This empowers the systems to generate numerous reports, and many BI systems come with standard reports already included. These reports are often all that you’ll need to begin using your system immediately. Standard BI reports include financial analysis reports, dashboard analysis, general ledger reports, inventory, purchasing, and sales reports.
Instead of struggling with manual data entry each month, these reports can all be automated to save time and effort.
Cross Department Boundaries With BI
Another benefit of BI systems is their ability to break down siloed departments within the company. Departments tend to focus solely on their own goals and challenges. With BI reports, information is shared across departments, and some reports are even generated from multiple departmental data sources, making it impossible to maintain a silo mentality for very long. Data is shared easily and automatically across the impartial interface of a BI system.
System Error or User Error? Training Solves for Both
Companies have access to a plethora of reports from their BI system. Yet some users are still unable to find what they need, or say that the information they want isn’t available. If that happens, it might not be your system that’s at fault. It may be the users.
When a new BI system rolls out, everyone is excited. Overview training sessions are scheduled, but they don’t get as in-depth about reporting as your team might need. And once people begin using the system, they may forget how to run custom reports or find little-used reports in the system. Their frustration grows.
Training refresher courses may help with this problem. BI systems can automate and simplify many complicated reports, but your team won’t be able to use them if they don’t know they exist. Scheduling some additional training time may be helpful to explore the entire gamut of reports in your system and discover new ways of using them to generate the information that you want and need.
Seeing Is Believing: Visualizations and BI
Another benefit of a BI system is that many can generate data reports as visualizations: graphs, charts, and dashboards. Complex data can be easier to understand if it is simplified by data visualization. It also helps people in other departments understand what’s going on in areas of the company outside of their own.
Because of all BI’s benefits, companies are turning more and more to BI systems to help them improve all areas of their business. Automated reports are a great help to a business and can save time and effort for your team.
Business Intelligence with ASI
If you’re ready to invest in BI with your business, but aren’t quite sure where to begin, start with ASI. Since 1986, ASI has partnered with businesses of all sizes on their toughest software challenges. Whether we’re helping you find the right solution or training you how to better leverage the solutions you already have, ASI is as committed to your success as you are. Learn more by contacting us now.