IT Best Practices

Make Your Business Intelligence Data Count

According to Peter Hopwood, business intelligence (BI) reports tend to suffer from three things: confusing charts, overly complex presentation, and pages of data that people have to pore through by hand in order to compare it. If the point of BI reports is to help you make better business decisions, then why are they so hard to understand?

Taking the Measured Approach

Hopwood offers a better way. He provides three sets of tips that can get you off on a better foot when preparing reports. The first set has to do with deciding what constitutes crucial information. To that end, you should define the metrics that help you manage your team, decide which metric has the most impact, and establish which metrics you can improve upon.

The second set of tips has to do with how these metrics should be used. Hopwood says you should decide whether trend or precise value is most important, figure out where you need to see variance, and select whether categorizing, grouping, or aggregating the data will provide the best overview. The third set of tips finally is about presenting your information in the cleanest way possible. Here are his quick tips for presentation:

  1. Simple line and bar charts are often the most effective way to show most types of management information.
  2. Line charts are better for looking at trends over time.
  3. Bar charts are applicable for category comparisons.
  4. Bullet charts are good for a compact comparison between actual figures and targets.
  5. Spark lines are appropriate for providing an overview of a trend.
  6. For more complex problems, tree maps, heat maps, and bubble charts can be effective.

When you follow all three sets of tips, Hopwood says customers have reported improvement in user adoption, clearer presentation of data, and successful trend identification. If that sounds like a good deal to you, click here for Hopwood’s full article:

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