What is the difference between traditional static reports and business intelligence (BI)? Static reports are often about a set timeframe such as the last quarter of results, and you have to consider all the elements that you'll need when preparing them. In contrast, BI takes the heavy lifting out of reporting because it populates and automates a report at any given time. In this blog, we will explore how static reports compare to real-time business intelligence so you can be better informed about what your business needs.
Going through the IT department vs. end-user access
Traditionally, reports are generated from a data source such as an ERP system. This requires your staff to go through the IT department with a request for a report, which can take up to a week for IT to generate. If it's not a standard report, generated monthly or quarterly, a longer turnaround time can be expected.
Business intelligence (BI) solutions like Phocas, however, offer end-user access, allowing managers without IT skills to quickly generate their own reports. Managers can also schedule the generation of reports at specific times, for instance every Monday morning. BI makes it easy for anyone to custom build a report with just a few clicks. Reports are easily shared with other team members; just choose your preferred delivery method. When you share a report within Phocas, the receiver only sees data relevant to them and their security settings. This time-saving feature eliminates the need to manually alter each report.
Static reports vs. analysis
A critical difference between traditional reporting and BI, is that BI offers detailed analysis. A traditional static report is good for a high-level summary that doesn’t require much detail. It may shed light on some key trends within the business. It is important to note, however, that you only receive what you know to look for. This may leave important trends undiscovered.
With business intelligence, reporting is taken to the next level. High-level overview reports are still available, but the user is able to click into the data to explore it in greater detail. For example, a report may reveal a region’s sales performance will meet expected targets, but upon drilling into the data, you may discover that one sales rep is performing beyond target, whereas another is underperforming. This is an insight you would not gain through a traditional, static, report. With BI, this insight is available with just a few clicks.
Combining data in spreadsheets vs. 360-degree insight into your business
Companies typically utilize different data sources, such as ERPs, CRMs, and spreadsheets. Traditionally, information for a report is generated directly from the data source. If more than one source is used, it can become the responsibility of the manager requesting the reports to combine the data in a spreadsheet. While spreadsheets are useful in a business, they should not be used to combine businesses data. Spreadsheets are notorious for containing errors. An error in one cell will throw off the entire report. A mistake like this is easy to make, and very hard to identify. Spreadsheet errors can cost businesses a substantial amount of revenue each year. Over time, this could become a financial disaster.
A high quality BI solution like Phocas, allows businesses to combine relevant data from multiple sources. With Phocas, when the data is explored or reports are built, you will get a 360-degree view of your business. While most managers have a general overview of what is happening in their business, BI customers are able to spot trends, and take action to prevent a problem for the business. In addition to this, Phocas customers have found trends they didn’t know existed before they started exploring their data in Phocas.
To learn how Phocas business intelligence can assist your business, download this e-Book, How Phocas benefits your IT team.