Tag Archives: business owners

Business Intelligence for SMEs…..are you an intelligent SME?

Data is all around us and we often feel swamped by how much there is to understand, digest, and analyse both personally and in business. We are constantly bombarded by updates from mobile apps, emails, and texts, which can put us off wanting to analyse and review data on an ongoing basis.

Screenshot from Cascade.bi platform

We have data overload & our mental capacity to accommodate and retain all of this information is restricted. I am going to set out below why I believe timely information and analysis is critical in the success or failure of business performance.

All too often I read in the press that a business has failed by not understanding its current financial position and not being aware of the current trading performance or possessing the ability to adapt to pivot to a changing environment, until it is too late.

An agile business should be able to use its resources (often people) in the most productive and profitable ways to drive business success. This mindset will allow the business to adapt. However, in order to change you need information.

Information allows us to be informed. Having the information available to make such decisions can be critical and the difference between a profit and success or loss and failure.

Business analytics and intelligence is just one area which needs to be covered sufficiently in every business, and I mean every business as it enables reliable decision making. If you are not able to retain in your mind all of the critical information such as knowing your most profitable product, region, sales performance statistics, cash balances, money owed and money due and in addition, be able to identify trends, then I believe you need to have a system in place which allows you to achieve this.

Having a good handle on your own BI is only a start, you need to understand and monitor lots of information in business, including competitors, market conditions (spotting threats and opportunities), the economy (both macro and micro), political and regulatory impacts and changing technology, to name just a few.

Too often getting in depth analysis of your sales, product, customer, supplier and cash performance is deemed as too costly and troublesome. This may be a task which is performed on a monthly basis and most likely more time is spent collating the data (in excel) than analysing and reacting. Does this sound familiar?

My top 5 tips to getting the most out of your BI:

  • Review the time taken to prepare existing weekly/monthly reports.
  • Estimate the % of effort for: Data collation Vs Time spent analysing e.g. 80/20.
  • Plan which data you would like to see and understand. Write down your biggest challenge which you would like to prove through your data (send it to me if you would like).
  • Prepare your data with analysis in mind e.g. tagging customers and products with their segment/category/location/sales manager.
  • Break the data fatigue cycle – move to a constant review, rather than periodic cycle. Become more agile.

Ultimately, I believe Business performance should be a continual process and adapting constantly, not seen as a “review” process. Challenge this norm, explore how Cascade.bi can help you improve your business performance.

In summary:

BI for SMEs used to be an expensive task which only larger companies could afford. With modern cloud based technology, the cost of distributing and analysing this data can be as little as the price of a mobile phone contract each month…….pause……who runs their business without a mobile phone?

Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee , no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882

Cash is king…..?

It is a widely held belief that cash is king in business. I believe it is a myth that if there is cash in the bank then the business is performing well.

Imagine that you are a wholesaler and you sell something today at a loss. Your customer’s terms are 45 days and you pay your suppliers on 30 days. You will have cash in the bank until you pay your supplier, but only when your customer pays you will you actually realise the loss in cash terms. By this time you are likely to have continued to sell at a loss for 45 days and your cash balance will be depleted.

I believe that pricing strategy and information is key. You must know your customers, know your costs and know your prices. Imagine a world where you could instantly see those customers, products or regions which were most or least profitable…or even “making” you a loss.

In summary:

It is a fact that pricing decisions are important and that having the correct information available to make instant decisions and to review is critical. Be informed before it is too late, pricing is king and not cash. Cash is a factor of other decisions and a good barometer of long term performance. Cascade.bi provides all of the above in real time, with prices as low as the price of a mobile phone contract each month…..pause…..who runs their business without a mobile phone?

Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee, no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882

Culture of using Business Intelligence in an SME

We are often told that Business Intelligence, Business Analytics or Management Information is something which large corporates “do”.

Historically, it has been the large corporates who have deployed large scale analytics tools to help them crunch masses of data. If you think of the systems which control Tesco’s Clubcard to ensure customers receive largely relevant offers and vouchers or to the systems which compare pricing across multiple supermarkets. These are all large scale number crunching machines, yet SMEs can benefit from similar data about their customers. SMEs already possess the valuable data in existing systems.

In the age of cloud based solutions and availability of data, there is still a trend to be largely shy about sharing data to employees in an SME. Yes, the data is valuable, however there are different ways of sharing information with staff without providing them with everything.

Software can generally be security protected (Cascade.bi is no exception), so that each member of staff can receive dashboards and information which are relevant to their job role. Much as business owners and directors need information to make decisions, so do the managers in an organisation.

Imagine the scenario where the sales director is fully informed on customer spend, profitability, performance against previous months, years etc, however the sales manager was only given limited information via an Excel spreadsheet each month or week. This lack of dynamic content will undoubtedly impede their ability to make decisions and perform at their best.

Who should lead BI?

We believe that BI should be led by the senior personnel/owners within an SME. Having a culture of making decisions based upon factual information, showing the importance of data will filter down throughout the organisation.

Who should use BI?

Business owners and Managers should use BI to make rapid and important commercial decisions on a daily basis.

Who should respond to BI?

Managers should use BI to filter tasks to employees, empowering them to drive change and improve performance. The whole organisation will respond positively knowing that all of the team are working towards performance which is being tracked and monitored at a senior level and crucially is measurable.

In summary:

BI is not just an activity for business owners. It is a tool by which to make decisions, empower managers and be embraced. It should not be seen as a separate function but an integrated part of the business.

Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee, no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882