Business Intelligence for Mid-Size Companies – The Case for Better BI and How to Succeed

June 21, 2024

To underpin growth, efficiency and profitability, organisations need accurate, useful and timely management information. Where and how are we making money? How is our supply chain performing? Which of our customers, product lines and sectors are growing? The answers to these questions allow executives to react.

Delivery of management information is a challenge for many businesses however. Reports are often, in
a part at least, created manually. Executives cannot self-serve – rather they have ask the finance or IT function to produce reports for them, which is costly and time-consuming. To fill the gap, managers may produce their own management information using spreadsheets, which is costly and error prone leading
to conflicting conclusions. Or more common still, the information required to make a business decision just isn’t easily available.

Business Intelligence addresses this challenge by delivering timely and useful information in a way that is productive to consume.

Historically though, business intelligence projects have been costly and prone to failure.

Complexity,expense and slow time to value have meant that Business Intelligence has often only genuinely delivered in enterprise organisations. Those that have the means and capabilities to deliver.

This whitepaper examines the case for better management information, the challenges associated with traditional Business Intelligence projects and how medium sized business can improve decision making and drive greater profits by implementing a successful BI solution.

Why BI for the Medium Sized Business?

The following are representative of the challenges midsize organisations face in decision making and management information If one or more of these apply to your company, Business Intelligence can help:

Inability to see the detail:
You can see the top line figures, even broken down by product area or sales channel. So you know what your top selling product is and who your biggest customer is. But you can’t drill-down into your reports to find out how and why the figures are as they are.

Manual effort to create management information:
Your finance team or IT function creates dozens of reports. People’s time is used to create and send these reports and you don’t know how and if they’re all used. Business users and executive have to ask for management information which you’re often too busy to provide. The cost of providing MI is high.

Spreadsheet chaos:
Business users improvise, creating their own management information using data in spreadsheets. Differences in interpretation lead to conflict. Inaccuracy (or lack of trust in the numbers) mean you are not confident on the basis of all your decisions. Business choices are sometimes made by “hunch”.

Prioritsing problems and opportunities:
Whilst every opportunity will hopefully be capitalised on and every problem addressed, lack of meaningful insight into business performance makes it hard to align resources with priorities and business goals.

Existing BI and reporting technology is limited to certain users as it is expensive or involved to use:
Not everyone who needs to ask and answer questions about your business can.

Retention and location of management information:
You can see this year’s sales figures easily, but comparing to the analysis of the last 3 years is harder. You’ve seen a report that someone else uses but don’t know where to get it yourself. Your finance and IT teams create dozens of reports for users, some of which are similar, not all of which are used.

Statutory and operational reporting is expensive:
You spend time and money creating reports for statutory requirement or the day to day operational requirements of the business.

A well implemented Business Intelligence solution can address these issues. By allowing the people who need to, to ask and answer the questions they h