Business Intelligence Software is Only as Good as its Inputs

Remember the saying, “garbage in, garbage out”? For example, Microsoft Word is one of the best word processing programs in existence. However, a 30,000-word document created by someone with limited grammar and spelling skills will be junk compared to a 30,000-word document created by an accomplished writer. This goes to show that no matter how great the program is, if you’re putting in garbage then you’ll be receiving garbage.

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The same is true of business management software. While you may have the best software in the industry, if you input nothing but garbage, you’ll be dissatisfied with the reports it generates. In this case, it’s not so much the user who affects the quality of the business intelligence; it’s the data sources and inputs used. Making sure that these data sources and inputs are of high quality is going to be vital when using business intelligence software.

In order to improve business intelligence performance, it’s important to improve the quality of the data feeding into the business intelligence software. As part of your implementation, you should have a thorough understanding of the needs of the users of the information as well as the key metrics that will best serve those users. In order to get a better understanding of the information you’re going to need for your software, generate a list of questions to ask the users who will be using the software. The idea isn’t so much to deliver a high volume of information to each dashboard; it’s to deliver the right information. Here are some key considerations to include in order to deliver the right information.

Key considerations include:

  • Business drivers – What affects the company, its industry, or its customers?
  • Business strategies – What does the company want to accomplish?
  • Business culture – What is most important to the company?
  • Industry trends – What trends and patterns are emerging in the industry?
  • Functional perspectives and needs within the business – How do perspectives on data vary between internal departments?
  • Correlated factors – How can you ensure that decisions based on information don’t have unintended consequences?

These factors should be considered long before investing in business intelligence software. By understanding needs and metrics before implementing business intelligence performance management software, you can build a solution that delivers the right type of information to users and avoid the garbage in, garbage out problem altogether.  It will also end up saving you time and money by getting it right from the start, rather than worrying about it later.

Himadri is a passionate blogger who writes for his technology tips & tricks related blog TechnTechie. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Canterbury. Though it is hard to balance time in between research and blogging, he still manages time to work for his own blog and writes regularly. The dashboard of this WordPress is the only place where he does not feel tired!

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