Most companies use Business Intelligence without even knowing they are using it. They just call it as “keeping an eye on things”. Though there are different methodologies and perhaps philosophies. the Management process an be broken into four basic steps. Plan, Measure, Predict and Improve.
In order to achieve success, one will need to know how success will be defined and how it can be achieved. This is the planning phase and it is usually subjective. It can be a process developed to get an expense reduction, a sales volume increase, a staff count optimization, or just about any facet of your business where you may want to improve.
Measuring and predicting are the more straightforward processes for they are typically quantitative numbers and how they compare to the plan. These phases are typically an exercise in math and there are software packages that can help you with that. This is where you look a the results of the plan. Measurement is the very essence of Business Intelligence. It is tracking and monitoring statistics to measure success or failure of the plan.
Prediction is a lost art. This is not to say we all need to be Nostradamus, but predicting the outcome is really the basis for establishing good plans and measurement practices. Once a desired outcome is defined, it is important to be able to predict that the plan will yield those results. BI tools enable you to define trends by looking at results over time. Once you derive the basic formulas for outcome, you can then predict ahead to see if changes need to be made to the plan.
Improvements can be tricky.Your sales may have increased but because the margins were lower on what was sold, your gross profit may actually be less. It is the correlation of measurements that is the true essence of Business Intelligence, and the only thing that can truly measure the success of any plan. It is an art to be developed in Management and what separates the best from the rest.
The information you need to manage and do business analysis is right in your back office system. That is why BI Tools are built and critical to management success. They can look at these statistics in a fractions of the time than a human can do manually. Therefore measurement can happen more frequently and you can analyze your KPIs daily. This allows you to catch things sooner rather than at month end reporting. It stops any revenue bleed, and allows you to resolve inventory issues or. discrepancies in settlement at the time they are happening.
Business Intelligence is quickly becoming as critical to managing companies as watching your Financial spreadsheets. As a matter of fact, it is probably the only guaranteed thing you can do to ensure the latter is better reading. It is those companies that utilize Business Intelligence/measurement well that outrun their competition and shine best. It is an enhancement, if not a necessity, to the four steps of effective management, and one of the best things you can do when having to rely on others to make your goals.
If you have been managing for any length of time, you are probably already using these four steps. Business Intelligence just makes these efforts more effective, because many of these practices are automated for you. You can plan and set goals based on actual and comprehensive numbers. Measurement can happen more frequently, and therefore you can catch issues at the earliest time possible. It lets you see your trends where predictions become so much easier. Some BI tools will even predict for you. It all boils down to the fact that when you have more time to focus and manage the outcomes of the analysis you can soon sit back and watch the improvements unfold.