Business Intelligence = Better Sleep!

Business intelligence tools chunk down your business operations and functions into distinct parts so you can get a good overview of what is happening in all areas of your business. 

While the top-level report or dashboard helps to give you the overall idea of the business position and performance, it should be merely seen as the ‘average’.  Imagine your house, when you look at it you see the bricks, wood, windows and doors, you can make a judgement on the overall appearance, and decide that you will definitely get that window painted in the spring.  Have you looked deeply into why the paint is peeling though, is the wood rotten, is the window badly fitted?

What you see is often just the surface

Business Intelligence, like ‘house-intelligence’ realises what you see is often just the surface, the ‘average’ or ‘sum of sums’.  In order to get truly organised, and in full control, you need to dig deeper.  But again, a business, just like a house, is made up of many rooms, cupboards, surfaces, furniture and fittings.  It is rare that we deal with everything at once, we work on the critical bits, and continuously improve each area to maintain the overall function and performance of the whole.

A business, just like a house, is made up of many rooms, cupboards, surfaces, furniture and fittings

Laura Landmark

This is why we need business intelligence, when you start digging deeper under the surface you may find that the high-level dashboard showing you the ‘average’ reveals huge deviations from the overall pattern.  When I was in accounting school, they taught us important lessons about deviations when it comes to cash.  We were taught if you notice two numbers are not matching, by just a little bit, don’t assume there is just a small difference, it could be that there is a huge positive difference being offset with a huge negative difference, so anything fishy always needs investigation!

Imagine, using the house analogy, you walk into your kids bedroom, something looks a bit off, it is not quite as you expected it should be.  It is very tidy (weird), but also suspiciously empty (concerning!).  You could just accept the niggling feeling something is not quite right and move on, or you could dig a little deeper.  You might find the huge positive experience of finding the room tidy and organised is offset with the huge negative when you open the cupboard and absolutely everything comes tumbling out into a huge heap on the floor.  Hmmm, maybe you wish you never looked, but its probably better you know!

It’s the same in business, our business intelligence is enabled by using tools to make it easy to dig in all the cupboards.  Do we really know at a glance what is going on at a deeper level?

Thoughts and dreams of a CEO

These are the typical thoughts and dreams of a regular SMB (small/med business)  CEO!

  • Which of our products are selling fastest?
  • Which of our customers have not purchased from us for a while, time to give them a ring?
  • Are our profits being knocked down by overly generous discounts? Who is authorising that anyway?
  • Did our main supplier forget to invoice us all costs this month? lets address that now, so we don’t get an unwelcome surprise at year end with a big, unexpected bill!
  • Using the 80/20 principle where should we focus our efforts, which products are producing the best results, should we apply more effort or resources there? Are we wasting time and energy in the wrong places?
  • How does our cash balance look in 3 months if we hire that new sales person?  Will they be able to drive enough new business to take us to the next level?  Do we even have enough internal resources to deliver on increased demand… hmm, maybe we need to plan for a bigger product delivery as well, how would that look? 
  • Are we getting pay back on our investments, are they worth it, or should we divert some funds and use more money in the next SoMe campaign?
  • Is the entire business gradually growing, or shrinking, can we see the subtle movements in trend?  Really, can we?  Are we paying attention?
  • And the list goes on, and on, and on.

This works at all elevations of the business, wherever we are working we want to cut the crap and see what really matters to our section, our people, our products, how are we going to avoid drowning in irrelevant detail and drill down to the critical stuff.

One answer to this; systems.  We need tools that will allow us to quickly drill down through the layers to get full control on what is going on.

I always tell my kids not to say something is ‘impossible’, but I am going to say it now.  I believe that it would be impossible to run a business effectively without some sort of well designed business intelligence tool.  This could be an excel power pivot model, or something even more sophisticated like a PowerBI dashboard or a report package delivered from one of the other performance management tools (of which we have several in our tool kit).  

 

It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal

Steve Maraboli

The worst thing for a CEO is not bad news, it’s not knowing

The worst thing for a CEO is not bad news, it’s not knowing.  It is the not knowing that keeps you awake at night and eats away at the peace of mind.  If your windows are rotting, you wanna know about it and deal with it.. fast!

We use business intelligence tools so that the CEO and other managers can work at many different elevations all the way from 300ft to 30ft.  We can look at the top level which gives the high level ‘average’ / ‘sum of sums’ view, and we can filter and drill down layer by layer to find out what chunk of the business is doing what.  Once we uncover something we don’t like, we can do some root cause thinking to find out why.

At the same time when we uncover something that is working really well, we can figure out why, and do more of that!

 

 

So becoming intelligent about our business is all about three simple things;

  • Magnify – spotlight the important stuff
  • Simplify – eliminate the chaos & complexity, understand what is really happening
  • Intensify – double down efforts in fixing the problem or driving results.

We at Mantle work exclusively with maximizing the use of company data using cutting edge technology to make sure our customers get useful information in the best possible format and in the fastest possible time. 

Please get in touch if you would like to know more.

Something to watch 📺

Here’s a link to Laura’s interview with co-founder Espen Kringstad where they discuss the benefits of applying technology to finance and operations, what makes a successful Business Intelligence project, and where this might all head next.

 

Mantle ™ is a fusion of finance and technology started in Stavanger in 2017. We offer solid technological solutions that connect people and data so that you can make good business decisions quickly. The back-end work we do with the data feeds into user friendly reporting and visualisation tools.