Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

4 Things I Learned About BI Strategy from Playing Scrabble


I enjoy a good game of Scrabble, whether with a friend or with a fellow enthusiast online. Recently in a really close game, I was able to clinch my victory by strategically placing an “x” to spell “xi,” earning me a final 27 points. Though I’m no expert at Scrabble, I’ve picked up a few strategies that apply to the business intelligence world:

1) Planning matters.
Scrabble is all about planning and strategy. You may have a great word lined up on your rack but you can’t just play it anywhere. You need to plan ahead, consider your opponent’s next move and the remaining open spaces on the board. Similarly, your business needs to plan ahead and BI software facilitates that planning. Just like you lay out your Scrabble tiles over and over to plan for maximum word score, budgeting & planning software allows finance teams to perform monthly re-forecasting and rolling forecasts that help your business adjust to changing market conditions. The automation built into BI software makes it possible to be more forward-thinking since there’s more time for analysis and less manual data entry and consolidation.

2) Analyze the changing environment.
So you’ve just made your move and now you have to refresh your rack with new letters. The board has changed and so have your options. In Scrabble, your playing environment constantly changes just like in the real world. How quickly can your business react to market changes? BI software like arcplan enables what-if, best case and worst case scenario planning, which are critical to an enterprise’s long-term stability and growth. What about trend spotting? Maybe you notice your opponent tending to place 4-letter words, allowing you to somewhat anticipate his or her next move. Spotting and reacting to trends is crucial for businesses that want to compete. Do you have an analytic tool in place that allows you to visually spot patterns, analyze data on the fly for underlying causes, and make decisions that will move your company in the right direction? When businesses first get to know arcplan, the application we show them is a dashboard app that features an ad-hoc component. This app allows users to explore the patterns they see on their dashboard in greater detail. Business intelligence provides insight beyond just reporting; it’s the analysis that helps you make sense of the data and get insight that enables better decisions.

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A CFO Takes the Reins on Business Intelligence Strategy


So, it’s one of those days where we’re up to a bit of bragging! SearchCIO just published an article on our client, Japs-Olson, a mid-market commercial print vendor in Minnesota. Their CFO, Gary Petrangelo, took charge of the company’s business intelligence strategy and choose arcplan in October 2010. We’ve been working with them to create dashboards that track critical KPIs and financial metrics – dashboards that have saved the company time, money, and reams of paper.

Petrangelo said arcplan has “bent over backwards” to tie into Jap-Olson’s data to create customized reports, an initial challenge, ultimately tapping into a SQL Server production database that also held transactional data. He believes his investment in arcplan will yield big dividends.

“I spent the last week and a half generating a multitude of different reports, trying to get to the bottom of a category that looked off compared to last year. I just kept thinking, ‘Oh, I wish we had all these reports set up in arcplan so that we could have generated this report at a push of a button,” he said. The $600,000 discrepancy was finally tracked down to certain transactions that were coded properly but being pushed into the wrong general ledgers. With arcplan?

“It would have saved probably a week of my time, plus staff time, and that of the production manager,” he said.

The author notes that more and more business users  and executives are calling the shots when it comes to business intelligence. They’re not sitting back and waiting for IT to make the decision. Just underscores the need for more user-friendly BI software and vendors that can work with clients to create what they need from their BI — without the need for IT.

Check out the full article here.


BI Can Make All The Difference


Making critical business decisions based on the most accurate and up-to-date data is a must-have for your organization to survive – it’s tough to argue with that statement these days. Organizations must be agile enough to adapt to changes in the market and to enact new strategies that respond to emerging market trends. The past decade has seen many businesses fail because they lacked the infrastructure needed to foresee and respond to changes in their markets or weren’t fast enough to execute a changing strategy (think Circuit City and Polaroid). On the other hand, the past decade has also witnessed the emergence of new companies that came seemingly out of nowhere and became market leaders (think Google), forcing existing market players to adapt or die.

Having the right BI strategy can make all the difference. Will your business have the insight and flexibility needed to compete with emerging trends in the next decade? Or will you join the growing list of companies who’ve closed shop because they failed to foresee a way for their product line to exist among the competition?