What BI tools do you need?
When looking at “how to report”, the very first question must be; “how do you ensure that the information is trustworthy, valid and correct?”
How you report on the information is somewhat irrelevant if you don’t have the reassurance that you are accessing the right information.
The only way to trust “data out” is to know that true and accurate “data in” was adhered to in terms of processes, data cleansing, validation procedures and with clear definitions of input fields, common fields, measures and dimensions.
So, how do you ensure consistent data collection? With data governance dictating the process and a data warehouse as the methodology.
Only a data warehouse can ensure true and accurate data through consistent data collection and dissemination. This is reinforced no matter how you choose to present the data; whether it be through a pre-designed dashboard or via ad hoc data extraction and manipulation. The data warehouse provides the backbone, the continuity and the “trust in the numbers”, that then allows the reporting tools to be chosen per the business needs of the user.
So, now with the reassurance that you are accessing the right data, the decision as to what tools to use, is based on sound business judgement as to what the user actually requires.
Reporting tools allow access to the data, however, what they don’t do is expose the data in a necessarily logical format, and they may even require a depth of knowledge of the data tables and structure that doesn’t empower but inhibits. Again, the data warehouse is required here as it allows the information to be aligned to set formatting rules, so that dashboards can then be used to distribute that in a sensible fashion.
So, now you have correct data in a consistent format, you can choose the reporting tools.
They are used to push data to a wider number of people, controlled by a set of rules; they provide a front-end visibility as well as a level of drill down and granularity as required. The administrative rights can enable a level of manipulation of the external, user-facing data so that analysis, forecasting and intelligence can be gained, knowing that the boundaries are in place and there is governance and control provided by the data warehouse. Dashboards take the complexity of report writing away, but also give reassurance as to the validity of information when sourced via a data warehouse.
Extraction Data Tools
Such as Excel can enable power users, who understand the data structure and tables, full access to a deeper level of data analysis. This pull mechanism enables access to a wider set of data, but the warehouse still provides the backbone of structure to the data tables and governance. It is always recommended that only nominated users have full access to the data and that the boundaries are still maintained by the warehouse to ensure data validity and governance.
Considerations for buying a BI tool; firstly, choose your Business Solution Partner who will deploy what is required for both power users and for wider business dashboard access. The list that defines choice is long including; complexity, scalability (on premise or cloud), mobile, demographics, hierarchy, location and many other aspects all of which need to be considered, when looking at who within the business needs access to what information, how often and in what format. A successful BI implementation should empower a wide breadth of users; giving meaningful trend information, comparisons and forecasts.
Insightful business intelligence helps run a business better and should include a reporting toolbox; a combination of both dashboards and manipulation tools. Applications should include predictive analytics, performance comparisons, forecasting, consolidating, planning and a wide variety of reporting tools. Increasingly role-based reporting and dashboarding ensure that data is presented to the right people but still allowing a level of drill down without the necessity of filters, click throughs and sorting that can inhibit use for non-power users. Role-based reports extract only the data and information points that are relevant to that role and that individual. Data overload is a common error that can be avoided at definition stage when business discussions define what users really need to see and why. Early discovery as to individual requirements on reporting will help a BI project adoption and success as users “get” what they are looking for, no more no less. Add to that some level of interactivity, without the complexity of dealing with data tables, and you will have a successful project.
Role based reporting and personalized dashboards, underpinned by solid governance and a data warehouse, will ensure all users see correct, valid data that is relevant and displayed in a manner that makes sense to them.
PrecisionPoint – Where data becomes trusted insight