Growing? What business intelligence can do for you

You’ve proved that your business is viable, even profitable. New customers are bringing additional income but also more complexity to your business. You’re delegating duties too numerous for your original troupe to an expanded workforce. How can ‘business intelligence’ help you be the ringmaster of this big-top of yours?

‘Business Intelligence’ is the process of analysing data and reporting it in a way that can help a business make informed decisions. From Excel to Xero and all the way to Power BI, there are many solutions that offer benefits at every stage of the business life cycle.

Business Intelligence for the growth & establishment phase

It’s time to say goodbye to your reliable but cumbersome financial management system and find the right tools to give you the information you need to make intelligent business decisions. However, it’s always the great balancing act of cost versus efficiency…. Here are some strategies to consider.

Accounting and software – shake up your act!

  • Set up profitability reporting by product, service & sector You probably set up your chart of accounts years ago when your business first started. By all likelihood, it’s now a burlesque patchwork of accounts without much order. Spend the time to determine the categories of income and expenses that define your business. Then set up your accounts to report on the profitability of each of your products, each of your service offerings, and each of your sectors. This will allow you to extract more meaningful reports and help you give direction to your business.
  • Automate transaction and reconciliation processes With increasing volumes of transactions, you need automation. A lot of contemporary accounting solutions and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) apps offer it – for example, the ability to automatically scan invoices and process them to your accounting system – but you need to make sure they are properly set up so you make the best use of these.
  • Take advantage of software add-ons If your accounting solution is not delivering what you need, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should switch. You can build on most cloud solutions with add-on products that integrate to various levels.

Marketing and finance – raise the big top!

  • Integrate client, marketing and financial data Forward planning for growth has a lot to do with building from the past (eg sales and financial performance) to set up budgets and forecasts. Is your customer and industry data integrated with data on your communications, website and social media interaction? If not, it may be time to invest money for better visibility of the way ahead. There’s now a range of affordable small business CRM and marketing automation solutions that offer full integration with accounting data – even Xero itself has a CRM addon.

Business processes – ensure the show can go on without you!

  • Establish processes to enable delegation Are you able to delegate effectively, leaving your staff to follow established processes, or do you struggle to pull all puppet strings at once? An established business is only as good as its established processes. If you ever want to take a holiday, make sure you start documenting your procedures. Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs ) for your staff that are relevant, realistic, specific, attainable, measurable and timely will also help provide them with direction.
  • Document procedures Investors who acquire businesses will tell you that a business has no value without a strong procedural documentation. Ask yourself this: if you go, how can the business survive? You want your personal value in the business to be in rallying up the crowd, not in running the whole show – if your business can sell itself, you have truly succeeded!

Do you need Accru’s support?

Accru has helped many businesses – from startups to multinationals – grow to the next stage of their development and onwards to great success. Contact Will Merdy if you’d like to discuss how we can help you implement ‘intelligent financials’ to take you forward.

Business Intelligence is about collecting, integrating, analysing and reporting on a business’s information. See our previous article on how it can help startups boost their business or read more about our business intelligence services and this business intelligence case study.

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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