Contrary to popular belief, business intelligence is not exclusive to the multi-million dollar corporations. In fact, if you are a small business owner that uses QuickBooks to track financials or an Excel spreadsheet to track sales, you are already reaping the benefits of business intelligence.
In many ways, small businesses need a BI Solution more so than their larger counterparts because when you are small, efficiency and cost effectiveness aren’t just goals, they are paramount if you want to stay in business.
In the early days of ChristianSteven Software, I wanted to know what kind of response people received when they called our office. To measure this one customer service metric, I didn’t use BI software or hire additional staff. My Business Intelligence tools were an Excel spreadsheet, a telephone, and a few minutes of my time.
Each day, I called our main number and counted how many rings it took before someone answered the phone. After 30 days of calls, I had collected enough data to see trends and what I found was alarming. Sixty percent of the time, customers were greeted with a voice in three rings or less. However, 10 percent of the callers had to wait for 15 rings or more before reaching a person! If I did not take the time to measure this metric, I never would have known there was a problem hurting my business.
This simple example demonstrates that small business owners do not need a large budget, special software, or dedicated IT staff to get started with business intelligence. At a minimum, you will need reports that measure cash flow, customer service, and sales. Other reports will vary depending on your type of business.
Too many metrics and reports can overwhelm and distract, so it is important to identify the key metrics that will have the greatest impact on your business. Business intelligence consultants are the expert at knowing which metrics will yield the biggest bang, and they know how to present the data in easy-to-understand BI reports. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this service, but the time saved and insight gained will be well worth it.
A wise man once said:
“BI is not about Business, nor Intelligence ... It is about Actionable Decision Making and the Benefits Impact from doing it better, faster, and with much higher probability for successful results.”