Using Business Intelligence Wisely

“I just spent the last three days building a report for the boss on the accept / reject rates at each inspection point. I got an order list from sales. I found paper reports on the inspections. I put it all together in a spreadsheet with beautiful colors and formatting. It was a lot of work and I am proud of the report.”

“That sounds great. Why the glum look?”

“The boss wants even more details. In addition, this report needs to be ready at the end of every month. I cannot spend that much time. I need a better way to publish this report.”

Spreadsheets are over used

Spreadsheets are great for one-time reports. Spreadsheets work well when developing a new report, deciding what data to include or exclude and what data filters will work. Quality inspection data is already in your ERP – Get the data from there and not from a file cabinet full of paper reports. Your business intelligence (BI) component of your ERP should excel at this kind of work.

Finding the data

Think about the data you need. In this case, it is accept / reject transactions during production. These transactions will be part of jobs to make or assemble products for sale. The transactions include the date of the inspection. There likely is a code to identify each type of inspection.

Now you have your data needed.

Filtering the data

The boss asked for a monthly report so now you need to divide those transactions into monthly buckets. You might decide to look only at data for one specific month too. ERP BI allows you to select exactly what you need. It just takes a little practice.

Adding custom fields

For this report, you probably do not want all the data, but only a total number of inspections and the ratio of accepted inspections to the total and the same for rejects. Your BI tool already has common math, Boolean, text manipulation, and logical operations built in. Learn them. Many BI tools also use SQL or other programming languages if those techniques are more comfortable for you.

Test your report

Run your new report and compare it to other sources of data. You want to be sure it captures all the inspections in your chosen time period and none outside of that period. Are there any other fields that would be important to include. Your report is not just a data dump but also will be a decision-making tool for your readers.

Publish your report

At this point, your report is a very sophisticated query of your ERP data. Now it’s time to publish it. Will your readers want a dashboard or a printed report? Maybe they want a tracker-style report that looks like a read-only version of an existing transaction screen? Do they want columns of data or perhaps a chart view? You can use your ERP for almost any style. Once the choices are complete, simply click on “publish” and add your new report to the proper menu.

“I have not used those BI tools yet. However I see that I should have started there and not tried to get data from sources other than our ERP. Can you help me get started? I know that ERP BI will give the boss the best report and generate a new report every month as long as it is needed.”

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