Business intelligence blog

    Phocas BI vs. Microsoft Excel (based on ratings in BARC's The BI Survey 17)

    For some organizations, the only data analysis tool they use is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. 

    While some may consider a spreadsheet a business intelligence (BI) solution, the results of BARC’s The BI Survey 17 suggest that spreadsheets have a long way to go in terms of product satisfaction, project success and business benefits among other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

    The BI Survey 17 is the world’s largest and most comprehensive survey of BI end-users. The survey received responses from 3,066 people who analyzed the BI software tool they are most familiar with across 29 different KPIs. In total, there were 42 leading products included in the survey.

    For this blog post, we will review how Phocas BI performed against Microsoft Excel in three categories, including Project Success, Business Benefits and Mobile BI.

    Across these categories, Phocas scored an average of 9.73 while Microsoft Excel scored 3.53. These are only three of several categories that Phocas outperformed Microsoft Excel, in many cases receiving a score two to three times higher.  While spreadsheets are a great way to organize information, as a BI solution, they are susceptible to human errors, difficult to troubleshoot, are not intuitive to the average business user and don’t enhance the speed of decision-making. Many of these challenges are validated in the results of The BI Survey 17.

    While we will focus on three categories in this blog, a more comprehensive highlights PDF/PPT report with additional categories is available by clicking the image below.


    KPI 1 - Project Success

    Completing a BI project on time can be difficult.  From BARC’s Viewpoint, “No matter how well planned out, unexpected tasks and challenges arise that often come with extra costs.” Phocas’ customers rate our software “highly based on its ability to complete projects on time and on budget, and with overall user satisfaction.” In this KPI, which is based on the implementation satisfaction level and the frequency of projects completed on time and on budget, Phocas earned the top ranking across three peer groups. Phocas scored a perfect 10.0 while Microsoft Excel received a score of 4.3

    This KPI is important because speed of implementation can be critical. In addition, satisfaction from those that use and administer the product is an indication of how well the tool is adopted or will be adopted for BI projects. In a 2017 blog post comparing BI to spreadsheets, we wrote, “The time required to ensure your data is absolutely error free isn’t practical in many companies in today’s fast-paced world of business. Manually creating, manipulating, verifying, integrating, updating, and merging data into spreadsheets can be a full-time job. This time could be better spent on tasks to grow your company. This level of data management can be accomplished faster and more accurately with BI software.”

    We created Phocas BI to be quickly and easily implemented, as well as intuitive for all skill levels. A perfect score compared to Microsoft Excel suggests that our commitment to simple BI for all is working.

    KPI 2 - Business Benefits

    Like the Project Success KPI, Phocas scored a perfect 10.0 in this category, compared with Microsoft Excel’s score of 3.3. For the past seven years, we have consistently scored well in this KPI, and for the second time, we own the top-ranked position in our peer categories. BARC cites this consistency in its analysis of Phocas’ performances, “This consistency suggests a robust and mature platform and years of experience in particular industries. Perfection in this KPI is telling of Phocas’ commitment to helping customers improve data quality, make better decisions, get reports faster, increase revenues and reduce costs.”

    Spreadsheets are difficult to use, and while they do allow you to analyze specific metrics, "there is very little room for data discovery because Excel does not allow the user to follow the data through. Instead, it requires a mathematical understanding of the data" (more here).

    Compiling data is burdensome, time-consuming and can result in limited analysis. Phocas BI collects data from a variety of sources, and within seconds, can be analyzed. Phocas provides a clear view of up-to-date information about who is selling what, what is selling and what is not, where sales are happening and why.

    Phocas’s ease of use was instantly apparent in the demo to Caprice, a 58-year old homeware supplier in Melbourne. Harvey Lewis, managing director, said, “Even for an inexperienced user, it made it quick to get on top of a lot of high-level information."

    Before Phocas was implemented, Caprice was using ad hoc reports to extract data from IBS, and trying to upload information to Microsoft Excel. “It wasn’t very successful”, Lewis said. “It was cumbersome and hard for people to actually use. Phocas has made my life easier because I no longer have to write reports every single day.”

    In The BI Survey 17, BARC evaluated the following business benefits:

    • Better business decisions 
    • Faster reporting, analysis or planning 
    • Improved customer satisfaction 
    • Improved data quality 
    • Improved employee satisfaction 
    • Increased revenues 
    • More accurate reporting, analysis or planning 
    • Reduced costs (IT or non-IT)
    • Saved headcount (in business departments and IT)
    • Improved operational efficiency
    • Increased competitive advantage 

    Our goal is to help our customers use data to make more intelligent business decisions that improve efficiency and effectiveness and grow the bottom line. A perfect 10 in this KPI is a compliment to our entire organization that works hard to ensure users get the most from Phocas BI.


    KPI 3 - Mobile BI

    In a world that is quickly moving to more mobile platforms and solutions, a high score in this KPI speaks volumes in terms of vendors that are listening to the marketplace. The Mobile BI KPI is based on how many survey respondents use their BI tool on a mobile device. Phocas outperformed Microsoft Excel by more than three times, receiving a score of 9.2 compared with a 3.0. This means that the number of users accessing Phocas BI on their mobile devices is three times more than those accessing Microsoft Excel via mobile.

    From BARC’s Viewpoint, “Since 2011, Phocas has offered HTML5 mobile compatibility and has had consistently high ratings in The BI Survey every since.” We understand how important it is to have access to data wherever users work, whether in the office or on the road. Data is becoming more important to everyone’s role, and based on the findings of the survey, a mobile BI solution is no longer the exception; it is the rule. Now, regardless of where workers are, they can access their data on the go, and work collaboratively on data analysis anytime, anywhere.

    Download our Phocas BI versus Microsoft Excel highlights report for more competitive analysis on additional KPIs.


    Written by Phocas Software
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