A major and constantly growing trend in all business circles, business intelligence has proven its worth over the past 15 years. Data collection, organization of information, exploitation and analysis; business intelligence is now considered a specialization in itself in order to equip business leaders to make informed decisions.
Historically, many companies had analysts who spent 80% of their time collecting data and 20% of their time analyzing it. Today, thanks to technology, business intelligence aims to reverse these figures; 20% collection for 80% analysis to simplify the management process and accelerate decision-making.
But who says business intelligence also says digital shift, software architecture and information management. How to succeed? This is what we explain to you in this article.
What is business intelligence?
Business intelligence is a set of strategies, technologies and applications that allow to deepen the knowledge of a company through the analysis of data.
Business intelligence represents the ability to transform data into information, and this information into knowledge, in order to optimize the decision-making process.
4 key elements to optimize business intelligence within your company
1. Collect the right information
Before you start collecting data, performing data analysis or even data mining and data modeling, take the time to ask yourself the following questions: what is the end goal? What answers do you want to get? What performance indicators do you want to track?
Data quality is also an essential element to plan in a business intelligence implementation process.
Skewed input data will only produce skewed output results. How to do? In fact, it all depends on the type of data you are looking to measure. If it is numerical data, it is a question of your teams and you being clear on the nomenclature, the data sources (database for example), the frequency and the way of collecting and indicating these information.
Moreover, when it comes to organizational performance indicators , it is essential to properly communicate the business rules to the people responsible for collecting the information and to ensure the rigor deployed in this regard. Finally, since the objective is to have an overview of a multitude of key factors of a company, it goes without saying that a silo approach is counterproductive when addressing business intelligence.
At the same time, as noted by Howard Dresner, credited for coining the term “business intelligence” when he was a business intelligence analyst and data analyst at Gartner, business intelligence is not corporate IT responsibility. According to him, a narrow conception of business intelligence, based on a few individuals, is one of the greatest dangers of failure of such a project. To get a holistic view, it is essential to integrate multiple data from different branches and involve multiple employees and functions within a company.
Let’s rephrase: you have to break down the silos to get integrated data that has real value. Before embarking on an exhaustive process of implementing business intelligence within your company, it is essential to take the time to ask yourself the right questions, to validate the quality of the data available, to determine precisely what information you want to obtain and above all, above all, above all, above all (above all!) work in close collaboration with many employees from several departments.
If there is indeed a scientific process behind the collection of data from databases for example, business intelligence is not an exact science.
2. Structure the information
Business intelligence immediately assumes the implementation and use of a large number of software programs that collect and structure various information. Whether at the level of monitoring finances, sales, project management, marketing campaigns, employee retention or any other element, it is inconceivable to want to do business intelligence ”à la main” in an Excel file – as fabulously structured as it is.
In order to obtain a real global vision of a company in order to provide support for strategic decision-making, a company must set up or optimize the various day-to-day management software within its various branches.
Official partner of the Zoho integrated software suite , it goes without saying that the Cofinia team opts for it when it comes to business intelligence. However, several other integrated or piecemeal software exist: it really depends on your needs.
In our opinion, opting for an integrated software suite is by far the best option in order to maximize the possibilities of analysis, dashboards and global information. The idea here is that it is absolutely not necessary to set everything up at once; you can select a few applications, prioritize their implementation and adjust the speed of implementation and the priorities according to the real and specific needs of your company.
For example, start with the Zoho Books application in order to solidly structure the financial management of your company, continue with Zoho CRM to put more refinement in your sales pipeline, and then continue with Zoho Project in order to follow the progress carefully of your current projects. Later, you could add Zoho Champaign and Zoho Social for integrated marketing management, Zoho Recruit and Zoho People for managing your human resources, and finally, Zoho Analytics to push the limits of your knowledge about your business.
Finally, the idea is that without versatile and complete applications and software suites, implementing business intelligence within your company can become a waste of time and energy.
3. Manage change
Who says business intelligence, software implementation, change in ways of collecting and managing information, also says management of change in work methods! And we know it, humans are not the biggest fan of change in their work habits! In this sense, the successful implementation of business intelligence within your company is closely linked to the participation and support of your teams.
Change management, as complex as it can be, is based on 2 key elements:
- The participation
Business intelligence requires a constant and effective communication strategy
As a business leader or member of the management team, you have an overview of a multitude of components within the company; you have a comprehensive understanding of the issues and have a vision of the strategies to be implemented.
As we have seen above, business intelligence requires management to clearly establish the objectives and the data to be collected. At the same time, the work teams will be responsible for applying the business rules, collecting the data and ensuring the rigor of the collection. The management team can select the software tools to structure the data, but in the end, it is the employees and project managers who will use them on a daily basis.
“Share an idea, an opinion, make them your own”; this is the definition of the term ”adhere
The idea is simple; if you want your work teams to adhere to these new ways of working, to the use of these new software tools and to be rigorous in data entry, they must take ownership of the project, they must participate in its development and understand the objectives behind its implementation.
Our second item to discuss; Communication! The watchword here is “you can never communicate too much” when trying to deploy a large-scale project that changes work habits within an organization. The more often and effectively you communicate, the easier change management will be.
Announce upstream, describe the different steps planned, explain the “next step”, open the discussion to take comments and ideas, establish your objectives and validate their consistency with the teams, verbalize your strategy; demonstrate your openness to participation, comments and questions. By doing so, your teams will be more inclined to point out obstacles, inconsistencies and possible solutions rather than simply finding a workaround strategy.
Like an architect who can draw the most beautiful of plans, if he never sets foot on the construction site, there is a good chance that several elements will differ from the original plan. Once again, the communication strategies are multiple, diverse, formal or informal… in short, there is something for everyone!
Last thing to think about: if you, as a leader or member of the management team, are not open to modifying, adapting or abandoning certain work habits in favor of new ones, you cannot expect your teams let them be. Openness to change is a mindset that is contagious.
4. Deliver your project
To deliver a quality project that truly meets your needs, you must have applied the previous advice, namely effective data collection, strategies for structuring information and change management for employees.
In the world of software development and management in Agile mode, there is the concept of the “Definition of Done” (DoD) which is established at the very beginning of the project. The objective behind the DoD is to define beforehand which quality criteria are necessary in order to be able to declare that a project is finished. This concept thus makes it possible to very clearly define expectations, to avoid going back on our steps and to ensure that the project will really meet the needs of the client (internally, in our case).
- For what? Because the scope of the project will tend to change, team membership will dwindle, political conflicts and administrative problems will slowly take root.
Hence the importance of dividing your business intelligence project into smaller projects, involving various members of different departments, choosing the right data for each small project and going about it application by application. In the end, the workload will be distributed among many managers and their multidisciplinary team with one or two very clear objectives. It is the sum of all these projects and these objectives that will allow the sustainable implementation of effective business intelligence within a company. But to achieve this, it is essential to target the right data, to work as a team, to ensure that employees are vectors of change and that they embrace new working methods. We repeat ourselves, yes, but it’s important. To conclude, business intelligence has immense potential to support business managers in their decision-making, by giving them access to a multitude of data and information in real time. That being said, an effective strategy built around a company’s own objectives is essential for carrying out this type of large-scale and transformational project. The teamCofinia has more than 20 years of experience in business intelligence in small and medium-sized businesses and has carried out more than 50 implementation, migration, support and optimization mandates for the Zoho integrated software suite. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to know more!
Hence the importance of dividing your business intelligence project into smaller projects, involving various members of different departments, choosing the right data for each small project and going about it application by application. In the end, the workload will be distributed among many managers and their multidisciplinary team with one or two very clear objectives. It is the sum of all these projects and these objectives that will allow the sustainable establishment of effective business intelligence within a company.
But to get there, it is essential to target the right data, to work as a team, to ensure that employees are vectors of change and that they adopt new ways of working. We repeat ourselves, yes, but it is important.
Business intelligence has immense potential for business managers
To conclude, business intelligence has immense potential to support business managers in their decision-making, by giving them access to a multitude of data and information in real time. That being said, an effective strategy built around a company’s own objectives is essential for carrying out this type of large-scale and transformational project.