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Business intelligence software: the best alternative to spreadsheets

Your business generates huge quantities of data: in your accounts system; CRM package; supplier spreadsheets; budgets and forecasts and so on…….and on and on.

But it’s not joined up. In order to make your best decisions, you first need a clear line of sight on what’s happening day by day. Who is buying; who isn’t? Are you holding the right stock? Are you charging too much or too little?

Spreadsheets work for simple jobs

Most businesses tackle this problem using spreadsheets. Which isn’t surprising – they come free with Microsoft Office and they aren’t difficult to use for one-off calculations.

Problem is, they simply aren’t designed to do the heavy lifting of managing all your business data. Remember the error made by NHS Track and Trace which “lost” 16,000 Covid test results because the spreadsheet they used ran out of lines?

It was just the latest in a long line of spreadsheet catastrophes, all of which were entirely avoidable.

Christina Warren, a Microsoft developer is quoted as advising: “Please don’t use Excel when what you need is a proper database…”.

Or to put it another way, as one wag tweeted at the time, “Using Excel for this sort of data is like trying to make Toy Story 5 using PowerPoint!”

Spreadsheets are clunky & time consuming

Unless you have some significant data skills, the chances are that extracting data from your ERP or accounting software involves some manual retyping of data. Then you have to manipulate it to get to the information you actually want. All of this involves hours of manual grind and at some point, errors will creep in.

Not surprisingly therefore, this is a job which no-one relishes and so doesn’t get done very often.

Even when the task if completed, the information you produce is already out of date.

Spreadsheets aren’t team players

Spreadsheets don’t share. You can email your spreadsheets to team members but you can’t limit the information they see. You can’t all work on the same spreadsheet at the same time. Everyone ends up with their own set of spreadsheets. None of them are exactly the same. “Multiple versions of the truth” are commonplace.

Drowning in data not information

The end game of all of this is that, day by day, you are drowning in business data but without the information you need when you need it. Chances are as well that you spend so much time coping with your business data, you don’t have either the time or the energy to use your data to best effect in order to make a
difference in your business.

If all your time is used just to keep the wheels turning, you won’t spot the opportunities to make the little changes that can massively
increase profits.

Business reporting software

For years, large companies have used software (called “business intelligence software”) to handle all their business data. Business intelligence software – or, as we call it, business reporting software – basically pulls business data from multiple sources into a single
database. Managers can get the reports they need automatically. No need to resort to spreadsheets.

Save days every month

Typically, businesses which give up spreadsheets for business reporting software save as much as a day a week or more in management time. That’s at least one whole extra day every week to work on your business, developing and growing it. No more mind-numbing spreadsheets!

Increase profits; improve efficiency

Using software to manage your business data will save you time and give you instant access to the information you need every day to maximise profits.

SMEs need the right kind business reporting software

Large corporates have used sophisticated business intelligence software for many years, so why aren’t many more SMEs familiar with this new way of working?

Probably, there are 3 reasons why SMEs haven’t yet embraced business intelligence tools:

  1. Traditional business intelligence software is purpose built for each company, which makes it very expensive and way outside the budget of a typical SME;
  2. As a result, SMEs generally have little to no knowledge or experience of these products and so don’t search them out;
  3. With no experience of this software, SMEs’ are forced to rely on slow and clunky spreadsheets which means simply don’t have a clear idea of the level of business reporting they really need – so in specifying traditional business intelligence software, costly mistakes are often made and implementation takes months to settle down; and
  4. “Built to order” systems are generally complex and difficult to use and SMEs do not have access to data analysts to help them get the best results.

The Illuminis business intelligence solution for SMEs is an all-in-one package of easy to use software and advice from your illuminis data partner, on tap whenever you need it, free of charge.

Designed specifically to give SMEs access to all the benefits of business intelligence software at a cost effective price, the illuminis solution gives you exactly the reporting you need with no skill needed on your part.  We can get you up and running within a couple of days and whenever you need advice on your data, you just give us a call, no extra charge.