The week is finally here where we gather around the table and share a delicious Thanksgiving meal with our loved ones. As much as we enjoy the good food, family time, and days off from work, organizing and hosting this special dinner can be a daunting task. Similar to the process of creating effective reports and dashboards that help your business, planning a Thanksgiving dinner requires thorough research and specific BI features that make the process easy and enjoyable for everyone.
This blog will explore the parallels between the process used to plan a Thanksgiving meal in the modern age and the latest in BI tools for Corporate Performance Management (CPM), (i.e. financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and data management).
Let’s start at the beginning. A few weeks ago, like many of you, I decided to start planning out my Thanksgiving dinner. Knowing that my younger brother has a sweet tooth, but my dad prefers savory entrees and side dishes, I sent out a Google spreadsheet to find out what everyone wanted to eat. Given that we live in different cities, I asked each family member to fill in his or her favorite dishes into the spreadsheet. The results were a little messy to say the least.
Given my role at Solver, I could not help but think about the parallels between collaborating on organizing a big family dinner and working as a team to make important decisions for an organization. While I will share some of the obstacles that my family and I encountered along the way, I will mainly focus on how modern BI technology helps teams overcome the same kind of decision-making hurdles.
My brother was the first to eagerly contribute to our Thanksgiving dinner spreadsheet. He swiftly added numerous desserts, possible too many, which speaks to the power of accessibility (and his sweet tooth). Much like my family, the modern business world sees more professionals working as a team, but in different locations.
When considering the right BI tool for your organization, play out the different business scenarios and organizational needs based on location and team size. More often than not, you will require a BI reporting tool that allows for easy access to your decision-making data from anywhere. It is important to not just focus on all the flexibility without making sure that the product is accessible for all of your business end users. Whether it is a Cloud option, on-premise, or a hybrid of the two, having something that is both Excel-powered and on the Web means that you can design and produce financial reports and project-related reports with information right inside Excel, in a Web portal, or within an application for mobile devices. As a perfect example, an accessible tool will foster active contributors to the data (just like my brother).
My sister’s contribution to the spreadsheet exercise came in a different form. She replied via text because she was away from her computer and could not access the Google doc from her phone. Eager to lock in her favorite dishes, she texted her entries and reminded me of how important mobile and web access is for modern collaboration. Moreover, in the realm of BI solutions, a modern functionality or offering includes automation. Even when you are not by your computer, your weekly reports or dashboards can be sent to your computer or mobile device.
Web and mobile access for financial and operational reporting is only going to become more prevalent in the coming years, and BI360 is one good example of the power of mobile and web flexibility as an operational driver, but how much weight does it carry in your search for the right tool? Whether you are working on a PC or laptop, a tablet or a mobile phone somewhere other than the office, your staff should be able to securely contribute to financial reporting or dashboards.
There are software options that will enable you to access and engage from wherever you are, at whatever time of day. Almost all professionals, especially executives, are carrying smartphones these days. Some third party vendors have rolled out mobile applications for financial reporting, and you should check them out, as a financial reporting accessory and as part of a replacement for subpar tools. Regardless of where you are on the globe or what time zone you find yourself, your responsibilities aren’t waiting for you to come back to the office. BI mobile apps empower you to make educated decisions, directly from your smartphone, which will affect the work product of your organization. Or in my sister’s case, it would affect the outcomes of our family feast, both equally as important in my book.
Lastly, my fiancé, not to be left behind, underlined the importance of proper training and implementation by replying all to the email and never even opening the document. He reminded me that the systems that we set in place to manage and analyze company data will only produce the desired results when implementation includes proper training and user buy-in. As the popular quote from Field of Dreams tricks us to believe, “If you build it, [they] will come,” but not so fast. At Solver, we have seen thousands of customers through the years take their best shot at implementing new BI tools only to realize that implementation is a two-way street of communication and proper training, not just about setting the systems in place.
In the most recent case, we helped our customers at Discover Goodwill turn around an implementation of their prior CPM software gone badly. What had taken another vendor five months to get up and running, took the Solver team three days. In a short time, we had the right reports in the hands of decision-makers and business managers. Because of proper training and implementation, their team will be feasting on the benefits of BI for years to come (just like my fiancé will be enjoying the benefits of adding to the Thanksgiving menu year after year).
In the end, much like planning a Thanksgiving meal for the family, using the right BI tool is a system that has to consider the textures of modern accessibility, automation, collaboration, training and implementation. As your teams enjoy greater access to BI tools thanks to all of those components working in concert, they’ll start to collaborate more.
Great BI tools drive information sharing, not just data storage. Mobile- and web-based workflow and file-sharing apps enable real-time updates, along with more visibility into reports, budgets, forecasting, and more. But there’s more than just better efficiency and productivity at stake. Yes, great BI infrastructure and implementation will probably result in fewer emails, less time spent in planning and attending meetings, and make it easier to search and find information from anywhere. However, Solver understands that there is more on the line—a good BI tool makes the finance and accounting departments more credible and ultimately the entire business more scalable and primed for growth. By keeping that end goal in mind, the right BI tool will help your business make up a bigger piece of the (market) pie.