Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Data Analysis for BI: In-house VS Outsource


Data analysis is considered to be a core component in business intelligence systems. The importance of data analysis pushes some company leadership to opt for outsourced data analysis while other business leadership prefers to stick with in-house data analysis. Let’s first take a look at the role of data analysis in business intelligence. Data analysis converts raw data gathered using different tools into meaningful data, which is usually presented to managers through reporting tools, and will aid managers in decision making. Ultimately, good data analysis leads to good decision making and successful business practices.

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5 Common Misconceptions About Business Intelligence


Even though BI has been around for decades, misconceptions still persist. These myths harm BI’s reputation and can make it difficult to achieve buy-in from stakeholders. Let’s review a few of the common misconceptions I’ve come across in my work as a BI consultant.

1) Dashboards = Business Intelligence
Certainly dashboards with at-a-glance views of KPIs are the most common form of business intelligence, but they’re not the only mechanism for consuming BI content. Many companies use dashboards for quick reviews of very important metrics, but just as many are running monthly or even daily reports with their BI software. Many of our customers use arcplan to send daily financial reports to entire departments every morning. Other BI models include self-service ad-hoc reporting, which goes beyond traditional static reporting, and data discovery, where analysts interactively explore data from multiple sources in a BI interface. Then there are many BI platforms that enable users to use BI like social media – collaborate with peers, leave comments, annotate graphs and more. The truth is, business intelligence solutions nowadays are flexible enough to accommodate however your users want to work. Don’t limit yourself to thinking dashboards are BI. They can help you monitor your business performance easily and should be a part of your BI mix, but think about what other forms of BI can contribute to the success of your initiative.

2) The most popular BI tool must be the right one for my organization
When it comes to BI, one size doesn’t fit all. The hype surrounding popular solutions doesn’t necessarily translate to value for your organization. You should evaluate whether the solutions on your shortlist are compatible with your data architecture, whether they’ll address users’ specific requirements, and whether they’re scalable for future development. You might set yourself up for failure if you only shortlist “hot” vendors. Need a starting point? Try analyst evaluations like BARC’s BI Survey. Its analysis can help you build a list of vendors to evaluate based on product capabilities and user feedback.

3) BI ROI is questionable
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Best Practices in Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting Webinar Recording


In case you missed arcplan’s webinar on August 7th, Best Practices in Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting/CPM, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


Note that the recording will stream as a WMV file.

This webinar is chock full of lessons learned from arcplan Edge deployments. Our Senior Vice President of Solutions Delivery, Dwight deVera, presents information you can use to guide your future CPM software implementations. As you’ll see, budgeting and planning project success comes down to a few factors: keeping expectations and scope in check, putting the right team in place, and selecting the ideal technology platform that gives all stakeholders what they need.

Leave us a comment if you have any questions!


Webinar: Best Practices in Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting/CPM Deployments – August 7, 2012


Join arcplan on Tuesday, August 7th @ 2pm Eastern for our free webinar on Best Practices in Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting/CPM Deployments, presented by our Senior Vice President for Solutions Delivery, Dwight deVera. This 60-minute webinar reviews a myriad of “know before you go” considerations for executives, finance teams, and planning professionals evaluating BP&F/CPM software.

We’ll discuss:

  •  How to translate your planning process into system design requirements
  • How to manage expectations and avoid scope creep
  • The “gotchas” and obstacles you may face during deployment and how to overcome them
  • Who should comprise your budgeting & planning team and their responsibilities
  • The elements of an ideal budgeting & planning system
  • And much more

We’ll also host a live Q&A at the end of the webinar.

You’ll come away from this presentation knowing everything it takes to achieve a successful technology deployment that enables you to dynamically adjust your plans on a monthly basis.

Click here to register!

Hope to see you there.


The Secret Sauce of Engaging BI Dashboards


Some pieces of music withstand the test of time because the message, lyrics, and melody work together in just the right way. You go back to some songs again and they become your old standbys – something you can rely on. It may seem strange to draw a parallel between music and dashboards, but think about it: a good corporate dashboard can be timeless too. We have customers who have been using the same dashboard for 5 years – it just continues to work for them. They chose the right metrics and display them in charts that clarify the data, and users find the dashboard engaging and useful even after many years, relying on it daily for information and insight. Your dashboard shouldn’t be a one-hit wonder – a souped-up version of a static report. Let’s review 3 ways to take your old BI dashboard and make it an essential tool for users.

Think about the dashboards at your organization. Are they really just one step up from manually-generated reports, built to replace spreadsheets and briefing books for meetings? They probably provide answers to some of your executive team’s questions, but maybe you’ve noticed that they have some major pitfalls, including a limited display of information and infrequent updates, and offer little ability to take analysis deeper or share insights with co-workers easily.

A corporate dashboard needs to be more than eye-candy. Decision-makers need a dashboard that drives performance by delivering the right information in a timely manner.

Dashboard Delivery
Let’s review that word I emphasized just now – delivering. The whole reason to upgrade your dashboards is so they’ll be more widely used, right? Well times have changed and people aren’t just sitting at their desks all day. We use a phrase at arcplan – we say our product is “BI that does take-out and delivery.” We proactively push information to users however they want to receive it. So think about that as a means to wider adoption – delivering data to users directly, on their schedule. Dashboards that have the ability to be scheduled and emailed to users in a variety of formats are almost guaranteed to be seen (and used). I may not have time to log into the corporate BI system every day, but I certainly check my email whether I’m in the office or not. Having my dashboard delivered to me at 9am every day has ensured that I see it daily. Thinking about how your users will consume your dashboard is key in the design process.

New Information
Getting back to the idea that some dashboards are simply a step up from a static report, how would your users see their dashboard if it actually presented new information?

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