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At Phocas we are all about making data accessible to all, so don't fret, we have your back and have collated an A to Z of Business planning and analytics terminology. This simple guide is also a reminder of how easy it is to use our BI software.

Everyone needs data to carry-out their work better. This guide is to ensure you don't trip up in sales meetings or briefing documents. You should not hesitate to ask what something means as often different people use phrases and words interchangeably which can make things confusing.


Ad hoc analysis

Ad hoc analysis refers to the process of conducting on-the-fly and impromptu data exploration and investigation to answer specific questions or to gain insights into a particular issue or dataset.
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Ad hoc query

One-off, “on demand” reports that can be easily created within BI software and quickly answers a specific business question that has arisen unexpectedly.

Learn more about ad hoc queries

Advanced analytics search

An advanced analytics search is a rules-based search, making it the best way to locate very specific data in your database.
Learn more about advanced analytics searches

Aggregate data

Formed or calculated by the combination of many separate units or items. For example, it’s a big part of financial analysis and often finance people use a platform to collate internal and external market to make recommendations and predictions about the company’s financial future.

Learn more about aggregate data

Agile analytics

Agile analytics emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, iterative processes, and responsiveness to changing data needs.
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The systematic computational analysis of data or statistics. Phocas data analytics lets you dig into a consolidated view of your actual product, customer and financial data.

Learn more about analytics

Analytics as a service

AaaS is a cloud solution that provides organizations with on-demand access to advanced analytics tools without the need for in-house infrastructure.
Learn more about analytics as a service

Application Programming Interface (API)

Computer code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other.

Learn more about APIs

Automated business alert

An automated business alert is a notification (email, chat or SMS) generated by BI software to inform relevant people within an organization when specific data falls outside pre-determined thresholds and should be investigated.
Learn more about automated business alerts


Balanced scorecard

A performance management tool that holistically captures an organization’s performance from several vantage points (e.g. sales results vs. inventory levels) on a single page.

Learn more about balanced scorecards

Behavioural analytics

Using data about people’s behaviour to understand intent and predict future actions.

Learn more about behavioural analytics

BI reporting

BI reporting, or Business Intelligence reporting, is the process of generating and presenting data in a structure that relates to your business so people can understand speciifc areas from sales to finance and operations.
Learn more about BI reporting

Big data

Extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.

Learn more about big data

Business intelligence (BI)

A technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help executives, business managers and purchasing managers make more informed business decisions.

Learn more about BI

Business process modeling

Business process modeling is the practice of documenting the activities, tasks, steps, and interactions in business processes and workflows.
Learn more about business process modeling


Cash flow forecasting

Cash flow forecasting is a financial planning process that involves estimating the future cash inflows and outflows of a business over a specific period.
Learn more about cash flow forecasting

Commingled data

Commingled data refers to multiple data sources including financial, operational, sales, HR, CRM consolidated into one single dataset.

Learn more about commingled data

Contextual data

A structuring of big data that attaches situational contexts to single elements of big data to enrich them with business meaning.

Learn more about contextual data

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Denoting strategies and software that enable a company to organize and optimize its customer relations.

Learn more about CRM



A graphical summary of various pieces of important information, typically used to give an overview of a business. Phocas dashboards allow you to see at a glance how your business is performing with an option to go deeper into the underlying data sitting behind the dashboard.

Learn more about dashboards

Data analytics

Data analysis is the process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modelling data to uncover actionable intelligence. It’s a key process in business intelligence.

Learn more about data analytics

Data blending

Data blending is the process of combining and integrating data from multiple sources to create a single source of data for analysis
Learn more about data blending

Data cataloguing

Data cataloging is the process of organizing, categorizing, and annotating data to make them discoverable, understandable, and accessible to users.
Learn more about data cataloguing

Data cleansing

The process of amending or removing data in a database that is incorrect, incomplete, improperly formatted, or duplicated. Also called referred to as data wrangling.
Learn more about data cleansing

Data cube

For BI and FP&A a data cube is a clean and organised data set that can be drilled into and sliced and diced to answer any financial or busines performance query easily.
Learn more about data cube

Data discovery

Data discovery involves the use of data visualization, analytics tools, and techniques to interactively examine data sources, often without a predefined hypothesis or research question.
Learn more about data discovery

Data exploration

Data exploration is a phase of data analysis where users examine and interact with a dataset to gain a better understanding of its content and structure.
Learn more about data exploration

Data export

A data export is the process of extracting and transferring data from one business system to another, typically in a structured format that allows the data to be used or analyzed in a different context or by different software.
Learn more about data exports

Data hierarchy

A data hierarchy is a structured and organized representation of data that is categorized and arranged into levels of increasing specificity or granularity.
Learn more about data hierarchies

Data intelligence

Data intelligence refers to the ability to gather, process, analyze, and derive meaningful insights from data
Learn more about data intelligence

Data mapping

Data mapping is the process of associating data points from one source with corresponding data points in another source or destination.
Learn more about data mapping

Data mart

A data mart is a small subset of a data warehouse that is designed to serve the needs of a specific group or department within an organization.
Learn more about data marts

Data maturity

Data maturity is a framework used to assess and measure an organization's readiness and effectiveness in managing and utilizing its data assets.
Learn more about data maturity

Data model

A data model is the result of collaborative effort between end business users and IT database analysts.
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Data modeling

Data modeling is the process of creating a representation of data and its relationships within a system, and is documented as a model or diagram.
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Data organization

Data organization is the practice of arranging and structuring data in a systematic and logical manner, making it more accessible, manageable, and usable.
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Data point

An identifiable element in a data set.
Learn more about data points

Data product

A software or service that leverages data and analytics to deliver valuable information, insights, or functionality to its users.
Learn more about data products

Data quality

Data quality refers to the accuracy, completeness and reliability of data or simply, whether it's fit for purpose.
Learn more about data quality

Data reporting

Data reporting often involves creating reports, dashboards, or visualizations that make data more accessible for an audience.
Learn more about data reporting

Data Source Name (DSN)

A data structure than contains the information about a specific database that an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver needs in order to connect to it.

Learn more about data source names

Data standardization

Data standardization is the process of establishing and applying rules and guidelines to ensure that data points are uniformly represented.

Learn more about data standardization

Data visualization

Data visualization is the representation of data in common visual formats like charts, graphs, maps, scorecards and scatter plotsf to help users understand and interpret data more effectively.
Learn more about data visualization

Data warehouse

A large store of data accumulated from a wide range of sources within a company and used to guide management decisions.

Learn more about data warehouses

Data wrangling

Also called data cleaning, data remediation, or data munging—refers to a variety of processes designed to tidy and transform raw data into information that is standardized and more easy to use.
Learn more about data wrangling


A structured collection of facts and statistics set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways.

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Database query

A database query is a question, often required to be expressed in a formal way.
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Diagnostic analytics

Diagnostic analytics is a form of data analytics that focuses on examining historical data to understand why certain events or outcomes occurred.
Learn more about diagnostic analytics


Access data that is in a lower level of a hierarchically structured database.
Learn more about drill-downs


Embedded reporting

Embedded reporting is the practice of integrating and displaying reports and visualizations within the user interface of an application or website.
Learn more about embedded reporting

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

An enterprise resource management system which manages information and resources involved in a company’s operations.

Learn more about ERPs

Entity-Relationship Diagram (ERD)

An ERD is a visual representation used in database design to illustrate the relationships and structure of data entities in a relational database.
Learn more about ERDs

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL)

Three separate functions combined into a single programming tool. First, the extract function reads data from a specified source database and extracts a desired subset of data. Next, the transform function works with the acquired data – using rules or lookup tables, or creating combinations with other data – to convert it to the desired state. Finally, the load function is used to write the resulting data (either all of the subset or just the changes) to a target database, which may or may not previously exist.

Learn more about ETL


Finance data management

Finance data management is the practice of collecting, organizing and maintaining financial data within an organization.
Learn more about finance data management

Financial Forecasting

A prediction or estimate of future events.

Learn more about financial forecasting

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A)

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is a combination of financial activities that support an organization's financial health: planning and budgeting, reporting, and forecasting and modeling. FP&A solutions enhance the finance department's ability to manage performance by linking corporate strategy to execution.

Learn more about FP&A


Gap analysis

A study of whether the data that a company has can meet the business expectations that the company has set for its reporting and BI, and where possible data gaps or missing data might exist.
Learn more about gap analysis

Geospatial analysis

The gathering, display, and manipulations of imagery, GPS, satellite photography and historical data, described explicitly in terms of geographic coordinates or implicitly, in terms of a street address, postal code.
Learn more about geospatial analysis


Integrated analytics

Integrated analytics is the practice of combining data and insights from many sources within an organization to help make more informed decisions.
Learn more about integrated analytics

Interactive dashboard

An easy digital dashboard of key metrics that is easy to filter, edit and explore to focus on the data that is most important to your team and company.

Learn more about interactive dashboards

Interactive visualization

Technology enables the exploration of data via the manipulation of chart images, with the color, brightness, size, shape and motion of visual objects representing aspects of the dataset being analysed. These products provide an array of visualization options that go beyond those of pie, bar and line charts, including heat and tree maps, geographic maps, scatter plots and other special-purpose visuals.

Learn more about interactive visualizations


Inventory refers to the stock of goods, raw materials, or products held by a business for the purpose of production, sale, or future use.
Learn more about inventory


Joint Application Development (JAD)

Is a methodology that involves the client or end user in the design and development of an application, through a succession of collaborative workshops called JAD sessions.


Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee in meeting objectives for performance.

Learn more about KPIs


Lead generation

The use of a computer program, a database, the Internet, or a specialized service to obtain or receive information for the purpose of expanding the scope of business, increasing sales revenues, looking for a job or for new clients or conducting specialized research.


Managed cloud

A managed cloud is where a third-party provider manages, maintains, and optimizes an organization's servers and IT infrastructure in the cloud.
Learn more about managed clouds

Management Information System (MIS)

A computerized information-processing system designed to support the activities of company or organizational management.

Learn more about MIS

Massively Parallel Processing (MPP)

MPP, or Massively Parallel Processing, is a computing architecture that utilizes multiple processors or processing cores to perform processing and analysis tasks on big data sets in parallel.
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A set of data that describes and gives information about other data.
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A method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this: ‘the report provides various metrics at the class and method level.’

Learn more about metrics

Mobile BI

Software that extends desktop business intelligence applications so they can be used on a mobile device. Phocas is a fully mobile software solution that allows access to your data, dashboards and reports wherever you are on smartphones and tablets.

Learn more about mobile BI



Refers to activities within a company or supply chain that do not directly contribute to satisfying end consumers’ requirements. It is useful to think of these as activities that consumers would not be happy to pay for.

Learn more about non-value-adding activities


Online Analytical Processing (OLAP):

Computer processing that enables a user to easily and selectively extract and view data from different points of view.

Learn more about OLAP

Online Transaction Processing (OLTP)

A class of software programs capable of supporting transaction-oriented applications on the internet.

Learn more about OLTP

Open DataBase Connectivity (ODBC)

An open standard application programming interface (API) for accessing a database.
Learn more about OBDC

Operational reporting

Operational reports are reports and data visualizations that provide insights into the day-to-day operations of an organization.
Learn more about operational reporting


Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is a data analysis technique that uses historical data and statistical algorithms to forecast future trends.
Learn more about predictive analytics

Prescriptive analytics

Prescriptive analytics goes beyond predictive analytics to address questions like "What should we do?" or "How can we achieve the desired result?"
Learn more about prescriptive analytics


Real time dashboard

A real-time dashboard is a data visualization tool that provides a continuous up-to-date overview of KPIs, metrics and relevant business data.
Learn more about real-time dashboards

Real time data analytics

Real-time data analytics involves continuously processing and analyzing data as it's generated, offering immediate insights to enable rapid decision-making
Learn more about real-time data analytics

Relational Database Management System (RDBMS)

A RDBMS is a software system designed to manage and organize data in a structured manner, following the principles of a relational database model.
Learn more about RDBMS

Relational Online Analytical Processing (ROLAP)

ROLAP is a data analysis approach that combines the principles of traditional OLAP with relational database management systems (RDBMS).
Learn more about ROLAP

Retail analytics

Retail analytics is a specialization of business analytics that focuses on retail data to gain insights into consumer behavior and retail operations.
Learn more about retail analytics

Role-based access control (RBAC)

A method of regulating access to computer or network resources based on the roles of individual users within an enterprise.

Learn more about RBAC


Self-service reporting

Self-service reporting enables end users to create and customize their own reports and data visualizations without relying on IT or data specialists.
Learn more about self-service reporting

Slice and dice

Divide a quantity of information up into smaller parts, especially in order to analyse it more closely or in different ways.
Learn more about slice and dice


A brief look or summary. A record of the contents of a storage location or data file at a given time.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

A software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the internet.

Learn more about SaaS

Software platform

A software platform is a comprehensive and integrated environment that provides the foundation for developing, running, and managing software applications. For example, Phocas can be delivered via cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) or private cloud.
Learn more about Software platforms


A sparkline chart is a small and simple data visualization that presents trends and variations in data over a concise space.
Learn more about Sparkline charts

Structured Query Language (SQL)

An international standard for database manipulation.

Learn more about SQL

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

The oversight of materials, information, and finances as they move in a process from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer.

Learn more about supply chain management


Talent analytics

Talent analytics uses data and statistical models to gain insights into recruitment, employee performance, retention, and succession planning.
Learn more about talent analytics

Technology-enabled relationship management (TERM)

The concept of forming one enterprise-wide view of the customer across all customer contact channels (i.e., sales, marketing, and customer service and support). It is a complex area, requiring complex solutions to problems of integration, data flow, data access and marketing strategy. A critical component is the database that serves as the customer information repository.


Visual data analysis

The representation of a situation, or set of information as a chart or other image. Phocas data visualizations present your findings in many ways.
Learn more about visual data analysis



Extended planning and analysis (xP&A) is the process of expanding financial planning and analysis (FP&A) to include strategic and operational plans to enable better data driven plans, budgets and forecasts across an entire organization.
Learn more about xP&A

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