Posts Tagged ‘accounting’

Business Intelligence

Given the nature of my professional experience, I found this week’s readings quite intuitive.  Working in a start-up environment, there is often no formal business intelligence processes, but adding value to the firm is often understanding the difference between reporting what happened and providing tools to drive business forward.

Tips for Getting BI Right

  • Analyze how executives make decisions.
  • Consider what information executives need in order to facilitate quick, accurate decisions.
  • Pay attention to data quality.
  • Devise performance metrics that are most relevant to the business.
  • Provide the context that influences performance metrics.
  • Take into account users’ feelings, and address their concerns up front.

Common Mistakes

  • Not having a solid knowledge of business processes
  • Focusing on BI as a reporting and decision support tool
  • Not understanding the scalability limitations of BI

In the CIO article Business Intelligence: Not Just for Bosses Anymore an accounts receivable problem at Quaker Chemical is used.  Management is attempting to use BI in order bring sales representatives further into the accounts receivable process.  In an effort to drive down the days in receivable at FierceMarkets, I too found myself looking to bring the sales representatives into the AP process.  I developed a report of clients with balances over 60 days past due and directed the sales team to touch base the clients.  In addition to simply looping the sales team in, my team started a system of notes within the accounting platform that detailed unique circumstances for clients.  The purpose of the notes was to start recording additional details (provided by the sales team and collection calls) that would help the accounting team to remain informed throughout the collections process.

Although this process was a more roundabout approach to solving the problem of high days in receivable, the outcome was similar to the implementation of Quaker Chemical’s business intelligence system.  The key to my AR system’s success was that I viewed the sales team reports as more than just interesting information.   They were a tool for the team to use in order to directly improve number of days in receivable, which in a start-up company, is a performance metric that is extremely relevant to the business.

My experience with thinking in terms of business development without having the resources to invest in a formal business intelligence system leads me to the following question:

Can BI systems be developed with enough flexibility to fulfill the ever-changing needs of the start-up community (and at a price that would allow budding entrepreneurs to take advantage of them)?