Business Intelligence – the ABC of dashboard reporting

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A successful strategy relies on accurate information delivered in a timely manner. Most organisations already have all the information they need for a great strategy – they just can’t get hold of it easily. Which is where dashboard reporting comes in.

This guide will take you through the ABC of dashboard reporting and show you how any organisation can benefit from improved data access and analysis.

A – Access

You probably already have a number of different systems for managing various business processes, but that information exists in ‘silos’, each one shut off from the rest of the organisation. Drawing information together for accurate reporting is:

  • Technically difficult.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Often hindered by inter-departmental politics.
  • Expensive.

Dashboards use technology to pull information from every corner of your organisation into a single, simple-to-use interface. By crossing internal boundaries, you finally have access to all the data required for informed decision making.

  • Departmental data boundaries can be crossed seamlessly.
  • Data is centrally accessible for key decision makers.
  • Instant access means less time and money spent on finding and reporting key data.
  • 57% of companies said they don’t have a beneficial, consistently updated, company-wide analytical capability.
  • 72% are working to increase their company’s use of business analytics.

Accenture survey, December 2012

B – Brevity

Accessing the key metrics you need, often means working through vast data sets. The process of extracting data is arduous, and the results are often long-winded, lacking the brevity of a truly great report:

  • Collating data takes time and effort.
  • Condensing data takes time and effort.
  • Disseminating data takes time and effort.
  • Time and effort costs money.

Business Intelligence helps overcome many of these hurdles by configuring KPI calculations in advance, performing all of the significant data processing in the background. Key data is then returned via visual dashboards:

  • Only the most relevant data is ever displayed.
  • Graphics, charts and dials give all the information required at a glance.
  • Data is displayed in real time with little or no user intervention required.

C – Clarity

Your organisation has plenty of data. You can probably even extract and manipulate it reasonably well. But do these reports bring genuine clarity, or is additional effort needed to make sense of the data? Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • You end up with multi-page reports.
  • You spend hours condensing and manipulating information to arrive at a clear conclusion.
  • You need to provide further explanation for your findings.

A report is only useful if it transforms data into something clear and easy to understand. Business Intelligence solutions distil information so that only the most essential information is returned. This is further refined through the use of dashboards which clearly display KPIs and current attainment. A dashboard provides ultimate data clarity by never displaying anything superfluous:

  • Data is displayed through graphs, gauges and visual prompts for at-a-glance clarity.
  • An ‘essentials only’ approach to data display means that KPIs are clear to anyone, no additional explanations required.
  • KPIs and data fit on a single screen.

Remember, with dashboards:

  • Access to data is simple, no matter where it is stored.
  • Brevity creates reports that users actually want to read.
  • Clarity displays information in a way that is easy to understand.

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