When most of us think of supply chain, images of warehouses, trucks, and shipping boxes might come to mind. But what doesn’t necessarily come to mind is data.
That’s right: data. Data can also count as part of the supply chain, but in this case, it’s a supply chain that is feeding information into business intelligence (BI) software. And it’s a supply chain that can often be surprisingly overlooked in the consideration of a BI solution.
Business intelligence thrives on a steady stream of data collected from systems and departments throughout your company. This uninterrupted supply chain of data ensures that inputs into the BI system provide fodder for reports, data visualizations, and the outputs required to build a comprehensive picture of your business’ operations. Managing that data supply chain is vital to the success of your BI program.
Do You Know Where Your Data is Coming From?
The first step to managing any supply chain is to identify the vendors providing the inputs. In the case of the data supply chain, the “vendors” reflect departments in your organization which provide data inputs to the BI system. The more processes that are automated through your integrated ERP system (with an integrated database), the easier this step will be. Make sure you know:
- Which departments have data that needs to be included in the system? Accounting, finance, warehouse management, operations, manufacturing, marketing, and sales are common business data producers. The more processes automated through your integrated ERP system (with an integrated database), the easier it will be to identify your data-producing departments. Don’t forget data that may be outside of your ERP.
- What data rules are in place for data governance? Data governance refers to how you manage your data. Quality guidelines ensure data enters the system consistently and correctly. Clean data—data which follows the data quality and governance guidelines—is trustworthy data.
- Are there any legacy systems that need to integrate with a new BI system? Legacy systems may integrate easily or they may require custom coding in order to work with your new system. Knowing what you have to work with ahead of time makes it easier to plan your project’s approach. It also ensures that you have adequate time to find people to write any necessary custom coding and test it thoroughly before the launch of your new BI system.
Identify a Data Champion
Your next step is to choose a data champion from each department who will feed data into the business intelligence system. This data champion is a person who has trained intensively in how to use the business intelligence system and has management rights to the database. This person can make sure data is inputted into the system according to the data governance rules established for your company and ensures that data adheres to all established rules.
Your data champion will typically attend more training sessions with the BI software vendor, learning in-depth about the system and its reporting features. Champions may be trained on how to create custom reports, how to update fields, and how to do custom programming. In the future, when requests arise, data champions can then handle them in-house.
Lastly, data champions are the internal problem solvers and go-to people for the new system. After the initial rollout of the BI system is complete and the initial training sessions are over, users tend to remember the features they use most frequently and forget those used infrequently. The data champion can answer questions and retrain users on the system features they may have forgotten.
Instant Business Intelligence: Just Add Software
Purchasing business intelligence software is a smart move, but you can make it even smarter by working with the right partner to find the best solution for your organization’s needs. PositiveVision is committed to helping businesses streamline inefficient processes, grow revenue streams, and reduce costs. We do this through a variety of software solutions, including business intelligence applications. For more than 15 years, we’ve partnered with companies of all sizes to find the right-sized software solution for them.
Let us help you make business intelligence make sense. Contact the PositiveVision experts today.