Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

“Customization” – A Dirty Word in the BI Software World?


customization-dirty-wordI’ve heard two schools of thought on the subject of whether customization of BI software is a good or bad thing. The first says that customizing a solution essentially leaves you with custom code that requires hours of development, high-priced consultants, and difficulty upgrading in the future. The second says that all BI software is customized to a certain extent, so why not make it exactly what you need and turn your BI solution into a competitive advantage for your company?

You want and need BI software that’s going to solve your problems, connect your data, give you visibility, and yield a decent ROI. Howard Dresner’s 2012 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study revealed that users want a BI solution “that’s going to help them right now…something that is very usable, very intuitive,” and they don’t want to “wait for lengthy projects that are expensive to conclude before they get any value.” You may think the fastest route to this kind of intuitive solution is one that’s out-of-the-box – or purports to be – even if it doesn’t meet your business requirements 100%. It’s the classic “build vs. buy” conundrum.

I have seen some buyers literally cringe at the word “customizable” because of its negative connotations. It’s associated with off-putting outcomes like lengthy implementation times and high costs. But I’d like to debunk the myths about customizable BI solutions and offer some reasons why a configurable solution can actually work to your advantage.

Myth #1: Customization is limited to custom reports.

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Meet Us At CFO Magazine’s 2013 Corporate Performance Management Conference!


CFO CPMI’d like to extend an invite to our readers to attend CFO Magazine’s CPM Conference in Philadelphia at the end of this month (January 27-29 at the Loews Hotel). Attendees will learn best practices for linking finance with IT to drive performance, network with fellow finance professionals, earn CPE credits, and return to work with new ideas for maximizing corporate performance.

Check out the agenda, learn more about the event, and register here >>

arcplan is a Roundtable Sponsor, so we’ll be holding 2 roundtable discussions during breakfast on January 29th. You’ll need to sign up in advance for one of our topics:

Not Your Father’s Financial Statement
The standard financial reporting process that your organization uses to manage itself has been in existence for over a century. There is no reason why executives should settle for financial statements that were first designed prior to the existence of computers. Join us to discuss best practice techniques to visualize the data locked in your financial systems and alternative formats for your financial statements. Let’s talk about making your statements more visual and interactive with ratio analysis using radar graphs, historical performance using bridge and waterfall analysis – in effect, let’s discuss how to make your company’s financial data more consumable to a broader audience.

Next-Generation Budgeting for Contract, Capital and Indirect Projects
Your organization’s budgeting process used to be simple when your business wasn’t so complex. The act of revenue, expense and capital planning used to be a singular exercise. With many organizations moving to more project-based budgeting and planning for contract, capital and indirect projects, the challenge for modern-day CFOs is to keep up with each budgeting project as its own business unit. The session will review some of the key challenges associated with differentiating financial project planning vs. traditional program and project management planning, managing multiple budget threads and rolling up this data into a final integrated budget, identifying organization and resource constraints in a project-based organization, and utilizing technology to automate larger budgeting processes with the same amount of resources.

Will we see you at Corporate Performance Management 2013?


Get Your Data Back in Shape for the New Year


data_in_shape_smEvery so often I overhear interesting conversations while standing in line at a store or waiting to board a flight. Recently, I heard this one:

Person 1: I literally put on 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Person 2: Don’t get me started…I’ll be working all year to knock off the 10 pounds I picked up over the holidays, just to be back where I was before Thanksgiving.
Person 1: Yeah I’ll exercise full-force through January but by February, let’s be honest – I’m tired of it. One step forward, two steps back…

This scenario is true for many of us; we take a step in the right direction toward our goal, but then get distracted and fall behind. Now that 2013 is underway, it’s time to make some data management resolutions and stick to them.

Data management is an overarching term that includes all the disciplines related to creating, housing, delivering, maintaining and retiring data, with the goal of valuing data as a corporate asset. And it’s not just an enterprise issue anymore. SMBs also find themselves struggling with growing data volumes and subpar data quality. Organizations of all sizes and industries are implementing business intelligence software to glean insight from their data, but the thing no one wants to talk about is this: how many BI projects get delayed due to issues with that data. Whether data or their definitions vary across systems or there are rows that violate relationship rules (many-to-one, one-to-many), data integrity issues must be resolved before you can expect great results from your BI software.

Here are some practical steps you can take to get your data back in shape this year:

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Happy Holidays!


We have more great articles to share with you in 2013, covering topics such as:

  • Why customizing your BI software is a good thing
  • Getting your data back in shape
  • 5 ways to ensure excellent BI dashboard design
  • The elements of a perfect planning process
  • Why BI project fail (and how to make them succeed)

We hope you enjoy the holidays wherever you are and look forward to seeing you back here in January! Don’t forget to sign up for our RSS to get our articles delivered to your preferred reader or your inbox.

Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!


Responsive Design + Metro Design = A Match Made In BI Heaven


responsive-design-metro-arcplanWith the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand – smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. But switching devices in the workplace is not always so effortless, especially when it comes to using business intelligence (BI) applications.

A new wave of design options is changing this, making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development – apps that are clean and modern, and designed for quick consumption of data and taking action. This article covers the trend toward two design concepts: Responsive Design and Metro Design, both of which are essential to next-generation BI applications that increase productivity on all devices. I’ll also explain how arcplan’s BI solutions are leading the way.

In 2013, users will come to expect “BI anywhere,” which puts the burden on designers to create BI apps tailored not only to users’ needs, but also their device preferences – particularly if the organization has a bring your own device policy (BYOD). The intelligent approach – utilizing Responsive Design principles – is to create one application (like a dashboard or report) for all devices, where the layout adapts to the appropriate screen size, resolution, and orientation.

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