Time Is Money, Money Is Time — Business Intelligence Bridges the Gap

If You Had A Magic Button Right Now To Help You Improve In Any Current Business Process At Your Company, What Would It Be?

Streamline x, simplify y, consolidate z? Whether you are a business owner, manager, director, professional, decision maker, stakeholder, chief-level executive, etc., odds are that there are certainly areas where increasing productivity and performance will help your company’s bottom line.

Looking back to our previous blog, ‘ Spreadsheet Hell: A True Story of an Unstable Business Process’, we can see how freeing up an employee’s day can make a substantial impact on a business.

This article will further expand that conversation and hit on:

  • Explaining business intelligence (BI) and sectors where it is used.
  • A specific scenario where business intelligence dashboards and reporting solutions are critical.
  • Life after the solution and/or what happens if the business process is not fixed.

Business Intelligence 101 & Industries That Utilize BI

From manufacturing, to retail, to healthcare — managers and directors have to make daily business decisions based off of the data and information at their disposal. That is essentially what business intelligence is: tools that merge internal data into meaningful information for the user (you). The sole purpose of BI tools is to help the user make better decisions, in turn helping your business gain a competitive advantage and improved efficiency within your organization. BI tools provide analytics through charts, visualizations, dashboards, reports, etc., again, basically many different forms and types of technology to get you, the user, to make the best choice.

So why does your business need an efficient BI platform? From Investopedia:

“Many [businesses] use it to support functions as diverse as hiring, compliance, production, and marketing … Benefits companies can experience after adopting BI into their business models include faster, more accurate reporting and analysis, improved data quality, better employee satisfaction, reduced costs and increased revenues, and the ability to make better business decisions.”

As we can see, there are a vast array of benefits from integrating an efficient BI system - to put it into perspective, the following section will highlight a specific scenario where business intelligence dashboards and reporting solutions are critical.

Life Before An Effective BI Solution

Here at Append Media we often encounter scenarios where we are approached by businesses who know (or sometimes don’t know) that they need help managing and organizing all of their data. As mentioned above, whether it be sales reports in excel, profit and loss (P&L) reports generated from MS Access, production schedules emailed throughout the supply chain, manual employee scheduling - you name it, data is always being internally managed.

One specific situation involved a company that primarily had two reports that they compiled: a sales report built in Excel, and a P&L report generated from Microsoft Access. As you can imagine, their sales report had to be 100% accurate and efficient because sales reports help managers to monitor, plan, forecast, maintain, and reduce the sales cycle, all of which affect the bottom line. The P&L statement was also of particular importance for this company because knowing your company’s financial status is always critical no matter what type of business you operate. At the end of the day, both of these reports served the same function: to help the business make better decisions.

Through continued talks with this company, we learned that both of their reports had ‘issues’ that resulted in inaccurate information, missing dates and numbers, confusion between the sales and marketing teams over unclear data, and unreliable sales forecasting.

With all of the time and energy that this company spent on dealing with internal process issues and figuring out how to manage and share their data, it said a lot (positively) about the company that they were still able to succeed and thrive/grow.

But can you imagine if they had a smooth, easy, and efficient way of reporting on their data?

Which led to the question: If we could save you time and effort spent dealing with the quirks and bugs of your current processes - is that something you would value?

Taking A Risk, And Having It Pay Off - Or Not

In retrospect, the proposed recommendations to overcome this company’s unstable and inefficient operational processes were simple:

  1. Let us build you a custom solution.
  2. Let us find, match, and integrate a software as a service (SaaS) product for you.

The biggest differences between the two are upfront costs - how much control over your data do you want/need, and how many total reports will you require/be running.

Custom solution:

  • You own it
  • Heavier upfront cost
  • Limited recurring maintenance fee
  • Creating new reports will cost more
  • Lower overall cost when fewer reports will be needed

SaaS solution:

  • Lower upfront cost
  • Larger recurring maintenance/operating fee
  • All of the data is stored in the cloud
  • You pay per use, e.g., base price plus per transaction billing method
  • Monthly recurring costs
  • Lower overall cost when more reports will be needed

What The Company Chose And Why

Given the fact that this company only had two reports and was unsure about adding more reports in the future, they went with an Append built custom solution. With the company’s current needs, the custom solution made sense, but we also designed the database with architecture to prepare for future integration with a SaaS solution. Ultimately, this led to the best of both worlds, they got an affordable system that solved the short-term challenges while being geared towards the long-term needs of the business.

After implementation, these BI solutions parsed and produced data into reports that helped the managers make better decisions, in turn, saving time and saving money. Both of these solutions were adequate enough to solve the initial issues that this company had. As the title of this article states, bridging the gap, is exactly what BI was able to do for this company and Append Media served as the local software developer that was able to improve the company’s bottom line.

Summary

There is no denying that BI solutions are playing an increasingly critical role in all types of businesses. If anything in this blog stood out to you, feel free to contact us so we can see how our BI services will complement your market authority.

Our boutique software studio helps directors and managers who want to empower their teams to do more by decreasing the time to project implementation and by increasing project transparency unlike industry-leading software conglomerates.