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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 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.

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.


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.

Application Programming Interface (API)

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


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.

Behavioural analytics

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

Big data

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

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 Business intelligence (BI)


Contextual data

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

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

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



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.

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.

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.

Data model

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

Data point

An identifiable element in a data set.

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.

Data Warehouse

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

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.


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


Access data that is in a lower level of a hierarchically structured database.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

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

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.


Financial Forecasting

A prediction or estimate of future events.

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.


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.

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.



An arrangement or classification of things according to relative importance or inclusiveness.


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 dashboard

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.


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.


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.


Management Information System (MIS)

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


A set of data that describes and gives information about other data.


A method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this: ‘the report provides various metrics at the class and method level.’

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.



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.


Online Analytical Processing (OLAP):

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

Online Transaction Processing (OLTP)

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

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)

An open standard application programming interface (API) for accessing a database.



a standard for the hardware of a computer system, which determines which kinds of software it can run. For example, Phocas can be delivered via cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS), private cloud or on premise.



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


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.


Slice and dice

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


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.

Structured Query Language (SQL)

An international standard for database manipulation.

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.


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.


Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The character string that identifies an Internet document’s exact name and location.



The representation of a situation, or set of information as a chart or other image. Phocas visualizations present your findings in many ways.



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.

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