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.
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:
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.
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:
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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Jeana has been in the software industry for 13+ years specializing in ERP reporting solutions. She has decades of experience in creative content development and marketing and enjoys exercising, traveling & spending time with her husband & twin boys.
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