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Take Control Of Your Data: How To Choose The Best Reporting Analytics Solution For Your Organization

Posted on:  May 7, 2020

Businesses everywhere are using analytics to transform and find new ways to gain a competitive edge. They understand a basic truth in today’s digital world: no business can lead – or even survive – without visibility into meaningful patterns in their data.

The analytics of your company is essentially the connective tissue between its data and effective decision making. The better the insights; the better the decisions.

However, not all reporting solutions are created equal. And choosing the right one is essential to uncovering the data insights you need to maximize profits and drive powerful change within your organization.

Here’s part one of our two-part series on how to choose the best tool for your company. We’ll cover the broad range of capabilities you need to ensure a reporting solution provides, along with each key evaluation criteria. In addition, we’ll look at important considerations that should play into your decision-making, such as return on investment, the total cost of ownership, training, support, and ease of installation.

The Big Picture

Let’s first touch on what your long and short-term goals are in searching for an analytics tool. Does your decision-making team see the value and importance of investing in a new platform? In what ways do you expect a tool to drive value and impact your business?

For example, are you wanting to:

  • Better understand what is happening in your business & why
  • Gain visibility into your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Relieve your IT department from the burden of collecting data & having to create reports
  • Empower your team to be able to create the reports they need when they need them
  • Streamline communication & decision-making
  • Solve a specific business problem in your industry
  • Provide a means of a collaboration of reporting details
  • Garner data to support large strategic decisions
  • Save your team time & money
  • All of the above

Major Considerations

Who are your shareholders?

If you want a reporting solution to have a widespread impact on your organization in the short and long-run, look for a tool that will empower your team to easily create the complex reports they need when they need them. And without the help of your IT department.

You’ll want to make sure that your shareholders, your team users, understand the benefits of employing a reporting solution. Help them visualize what they will gain from the right tool.

Ensure you take into account everyone who will be using the product. You’re likely to have a broad range of employees with different skill sets who will each need to create reports for different reasons. It will range from your upper-level management and executives to employees in your business office and other departments. Your business intelligence platform must be able to give everyone in your organization the ability to make discoveries they need within your data.

How much will it really cost?

You must consider the total cost of ownership of any reporting solution. This can include much more than just the initial product purchase and licensing fees. While the purchase price certainly matters, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. And beware of any hidden costs, which can include:

  • Cost of implementation
  • Professional services required for training
  • Internal ongoing support costs, such as IT
  • Required underlying technologies to support the tool
  • Hardware costs, including servers for production & development, as well as ongoing maintenance
  • Network & storage costs
  • Ongoing expenses of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings
  • The time needed to train an internal team for use of a product
  • Maintenance fees

Self-Service Reporting

This is an absolute must in a reporting tool. Self-service reporting, also known as ad-hoc analytics, enables non-technical users to create, edit, and share reports to provide greater financial data insights to key decision-makers. The important note is without the need for IT or other dedicated in-house experts. This provides a big win for the IT team as well, freeing up the technical experts to focus on critical system management, maintaining data integrity, and optimizing the performance of all network applications, rather than drowning in reporting requests.

Therefore, as you consider which reporting tool is best for your organization, make sure it is a truly self-service tool allowing your team to create the custom reports they need when they need them.

Next week, we’ll give you a list of the top 10 questions you need to ask any vendor before purchasing their reporting tool.

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