Financial reporting and budgeting demands, and today’s powerful BI solutions that help the hotel and restaurant industry achieve their analytics goals, will be the focus of this article.

In the modern business culture, Business Intelligence (BI) analysis is becoming increasingly important because it translates your company data into informed decisions about the future of your hotels or restaurants.  But whether you’re new to BI analytics or not, today’s software offerings can be confusing and overwhelming in regard to how you can plug the functionality into your industry-specific objectives.  Recently, I spoke with an accountant in the hospitality industry, and we commiserated over the overwhelming task of seeking the right technology to specifically help hotel and restaurant management to better do their job.  Therefore, this article will zoom in on the premier features and functionalities you should be aware of in today’s reporting and planning tools, with a special focus on the ways you can manage and evaluate your information when managing your hotel or restaurant.

Let’s start by noting that there are some main criteria that make for intuitive, powerful, and logic-driven BI tools.  You can integrate your company information a couple of different ways.  With some independent software vendor (ISV) program, you can run live reporting on your accounting system.  Live integrations translate to real-time analyses, with your data directly from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.  Your other option requires a BI data store, like a data warehouse or an OLAP cube, which are spaces that can house multiple kinds of company information within a stable interface, ensuring higher performance analyses.

BI data stores involve a replication of your data from the system or source to the BI database, so you can achieve an up-to-the-minute report.  BI data stores are more efficient in running reports and producing budgets, rather than pulling data live from the ERP server, but it will cost you.  In addition to the expense of the software, more time, staff, and money might be needed to manage the technology.  Each organization has specific goals, so you’ll have to consider which is the best option for you.

You’ll also want to weigh software platforms.  Modern ISV reporting and planning tools can be Excel- or web-based, proprietary in nature, or a combination.  Because Excel is so popular with finance professionals around the world, it might seem like Excel would be the default choice, but there are other options to consider.  Today’s Excel add-ins are additions to the toolbar at the top that expedite and upgrade Excel to more powerfully analyze and plan with your company information.  Alternatively, the internet has become an extremely popular platform in the technology world.

Browser-based financial reporting and planning is in the midst of changing the data management and analysis game, providing the flexibility for your hotel and restaurant managers to access reports and dashboards anywhere they can connect to the internet.  There are pure Cloud tools, or technology that is hosted by a third party on the web, which is typically not Excel-based and usually needs a BI data store for analysis.  There are also some hybrid offerings that are self-service in their web platforms, in addition to being Excel-powered, providing familiar formatting and access from anywhere with the internet.  That leaves proprietary software for your consideration.

Some ISVs posit that Excel is a logistical mess in terms of linking spreadsheets and working as a team on financial reports, as well as organizational or departmental budgets.  These third party BI manufacturers typically are bringing their own proprietary BI tools to market.  They are generally pretty powerful, but entail a lengthier learning curve for your team because they aren’t Excel-based, which might not be worth your time based on how complex the product is for business end users.  If the tool adequately helps you meet your specific hospitality analytics needs, it could be worth it.  There are also products that combine platform options, like financial reporting that is Cloud-based and proprietary or budgeting that you can manage from Excel and the web.  Do the work of weighing your needs and researching your options, so you can meet your goals with the right tool.  However, there are more aspects to weigh.

Let’s talk about business user friendliness, teamwork, and security.  Frankly, if the tool is not easy-to-use, eliminate it from consideration.  Modern financial reporting and planning solutions should be elevating BI processes to make them easier and faster for your hotel and/or restaurant team, so if it’s too complex, there are options that will be business user friendly.  If you think about the teamwork you regularly rely on for analysis processes, you shouldn’t settle for a tool that hasn’t built collaboration and security into the core of the product, regardless of the platform.  Let’s now move into the specifics of BI reporting and budgeting for the hospitality sector.

Hotels budgeting software can be financial and operational in nature.  Hospitality reporting concentrates on the big picture, bringing together POS figures and reservation management information with General Ledger (GL) data with drill-down to sub-ledger analytics, like payroll or staffing.  Hotel and restaurant budgeting tools can consolidate multiple data sources for wide-ranging analyses, more fine-tuned metrics and trends.  Higher performance reports can be achieve with a BI data store, but you also have live integration choices.  Reports range anywhere from standard and consolidated financial statements to bar and cellar management, front-of-house management, inventory management, sales and marketing management, and staffing and employment.  Reporting typically utilizes actual figures that are tied to budgets and forecasting, which again supports the choice to implement a complete BI suite.
In terms of budgeting and forecasting, you should seek a tool that provides you ways to improve your planning tasks.  One example might be a payroll module, which can assist you in the organization and planning of union and non-union pay scales, in addition to shift differentials.  Another example would be an expenses module that can enable and empower your team to organize your projections for general and departmental expenses.  There are plenty of modules that can help you better plan for the future of your hotel or restaurant.

There’s a lot to consider, and Solver offers Excel, web and/or mobile-based reporting and budgeting as stand-alone tools or as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to generally answer questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for hotel and restaurant management.