End the Chaos: A Better Approach to Business Intelligence

May 8, 2012 No Comments

My client Janet already had her laptop open when I asked how many versions of the budget report were on her company’s SharePoint drive. As she navigated through spreadsheets and dashboard screens — each created by a different person for a different purpose — the only constant was the title of the report, “2012 Actuals.” This single report had sixteen different versions, not to mention numerous formats, colors, column names and figures.

“Our business units are all trying to do the same thing with different tools,” she says. I can’t tell you how many new reports people create here every day. The trouble is that my CEO wants one number for revenues, one number for profitability, and one number for sales.” Who wouldn’t?

Janet calls it “lawlessness.” I call it “report-glut.” The proliferation of multiple reports with the same purpose, yet containing different data, results in divergent and often-contradictory interpretations. Business executives are unaware of the extent to which their staffs routinely reinvent the wheel to get the information they need. It’s a hidden cost, and a growing one.

Increasingly it’s not just the number-crunchers in your organization who use information. Everyone from product managers, to call center reps, to the front-line worker in the branch or store uses information to make decisions. The bad news is that these knowledge workers are unaware of colleagues who share the same reporting needs, and who might have already created meaningful reports.

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