Business Intelligence Solutions – choosing one for your business

Business Intelligence (BI) software makes it possible to analyse a business in a way that has not been previously available to (or practical for) SMEs. BI solutions can reshape financial data to provide insights that assist in strategic decision-making, and ultimately help businesses gain a strategic competitive advantage.

There are many types of BI software available. It’s important to choose the right one for your business, otherwise the results can lack value or meaning, or the platform may simply be too difficult to use.

Three BI tools that Accru utlises regularly to provide clients with business growth services include Crunchboards, Spotlight and Power BI. Which tool we select (or recommend) will depend on what best suits a client’s business and goals.

What to consider when choosing a Business Intelligence solution

The first things to consider when deciding what may suit you are:

  • What do you want out of the reports? This may be the primary decision between choosing the software and the provider (or no provider). Every business is different and every owner/manager has different goals and values, so it is important to analyse what information you want, and how you will use it in your business. You may just want an analysis of your weekly bottom line, whereas others may want analysis to support major strategic decisions such as cutting products or businesses. The output can either be aided or hindered by choosing either program, so this must be analysed before moving forward with a solution.
  • Who will be preparing the reports? If your business has internal accountants or utilises a firm like Accru for your reporting and analysis, Power BI can be a good option as it takes skilled individuals to get the most out of this program. On the other hand, simpler programs are better suited to hands-on owner/managers who are comfortable using computer software and interpreting data.
  • Where is the source information to prepare the reports stored? While cloud accounting solutions like Xero and QuickBooks Online have good integration with major BI solutions, other accounting software may not directly integrate with particular solutions. This can also be a consideration in your choice.
  • How complex is your entity? Selecting the right type of software will be highly dependent on how complex the entity is. If the software chosen is inappropriate for your business’s size, complexity and goals, it will not provide insights of value to the business.
  • How frequently will you want to interpret the data? If you have tight control over your business and want rapid, easily accessible information, then CrunchBoards or Power BI may be the best solutions for you. Spotlight Reporting is more suited to periodic use to aid strategic decision-making.

The pros and cons of three market leaders

Here is a quick snapshot on some of the pros and cons of three BI tools:

The benefits if you get it right

Businesses can reap major benefits if they select the correct program and utilise it effectively in their financial and business management. With clear visuals of profit levels and asset growth, BI tools are excellent for analysing key performance indicators, as well great motivators for owners.

While Business Intelligence does not require a cloud accounting solution, relying on desktop solutions significantly increases the cost of BI reporting and prevents streamlined processes. It’s also important to note that the effectiveness of Business Intelligence software will be limited by how ‘clean’ and correct the data is. You’ll need to ensure that your accounting data is reconciled regularly before analysing, not left until the end of the Financial Year.

A final tip – Always remember that Business Intelligence requires three steps to be effective:
Accurate Data Meaningful Reports + Professional Analysis.

How Accru can help

If you are interested in moving forward with a Business Intelligence solution, Accru can help.

We have skilled staff who can assist with the preparation and set up of software, technical support, and perform monthly reporting to help grow your business. We can also provide further advice on which solution best suits your particular business.

By Will Merdy, Accru Felsers Sydney

About the Author
Will has over a decade of experience in chartered accounting practice with specialised expertise in taxation consulting. Working with both large international clients and small-to-medium businesses across a wide range of industries, including IT consulting, construction and childcare, he is known for his excellent analytical skills and ability to utilise business intelligence software.
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