How often have you found yourself at a crossroads, faced with a major decision, but with no idea which option made the best choice?
Business people are faced with big decisions on a nearly constant basis. Many successful companies employ a process known as business analytics (BA) to help them with their decisions. If your company use BA, the most important thing to be aware of is that success depends largely on how astute your company is at using BA tools. Here are seven tips on how to make sure BA is working for you.
- Collaborate to define questions. Before you approach a BA vendor, it’s important to collaborate with all functions within your company to identify questions and issues that are tough to answer. With questions clearly defined, you’ll be better prepared to determine if a vendor can provide solutions that will answer them more efficiently than solutions that are already in place.
- Start with fresh reports. After implementation of a BA solution, you should focus on developing new reports that analyze data in a different way when compared with your old reports. Doing so could help you find new ways to secure advantages, competitive and otherwise. A new solution also provides you with the opportunity to audit your data and get rid of junk data that has no viable purpose.
- Work with BA experts and your vendor. BA is a science; it’s a lot more involved than the traditional method of comparing current results against previous reports. As such, you need the assistance of a BA expert who knows which questions to ask and what to do with the data. If no one on your staff has this expertise, consider hiring a consultant. The vendor you work with might be a good start, as they normally employ BA experts who are there to help.
- Train your employees. Like any business function that will be used in all departments, it’s important to train your employees on not only how to use the software, but also on the basics behind it. Before any training is done, it’s important that you adapt roles to incorporate the change in process.
- Don’t give up on Excel. Microsoft Excel and similar spreadsheets are fantastic programs. Chances are high that the majority of your employees are competent users of Excel, which can be an advantage for both the employee and your business. In fact, many BA solutions use (or are based off of) Excel-like spreadsheets, which makes training a lot easier and much less expensive since employees will already be comfortable with the basics.
- BA should deliver on 2 levels. Business analytics functions on two main levels: summary and drill down. Summary encompasses multiple elements, while drill down allows in-depth exploration of one element. When reports are compiled they should encompass both elements.
- Don’t let BA do all the thinking. BA is not the be all and end all. It is supposed to help your company with decision making, not make the decisions for you. There may be times when the analytical output just doesn’t match what you think will be best. Some of the most successful business people have relied on instinct even when the available data tells them they are wrong.
BA has become an important part of many businesses. While you can develop your own program in-house, many small to medium businesses just don’t have the capital, expertise or time to do so. We recommend that before you start, you get in touch with a BA expert or consultant and see if they can give you a solution. We can help, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give us a call.