Competition among businesses becomes keener every day. Customers have multiple resources available for price comparisons and purchases. Online stores battle brick and mortar locations with rock bottom prices. Internet retailers undercut each other with services such as free shipping and returns. Accurate, timely information helps entrepreneurs stay on top of sales trends. Armed with this data, they can respond quickly to changing marketplaces.
Monthly reports look backward. They tell business owners what happened last month, quarter and year. Sales forecasts give companies an idea of what might occur in the future. They help retailers plan their inventory and staffing for the seasons ahead. Entrepreneurs need both sets of information to run their endeavors successfully. Access to current information helps proprietors react swiftly to micro trends which make themselves evident over shorter windows of time. In many cases, however, this data is not readily available.
Some owners develop reporting of this type using generic spreadsheet applications. Information accumulated in this manner is useful but gathering it may be burdensome. Multiple resources have to be pulled together from varying sources. Compiling and presenting the data may require redundant input. Some software vendors offer software which simplifies the process. Frequently though, off the shelf solutions do not meet all the requirements businesses have.
When considering the implementation of such reports, entrepreneurs must determine the kind of information they need. One way to do this is by developing key performance indicators. These parameters illustrate the progress being made toward company goals. For instance, a retailer might want to know how many sales are being made in a particular area during a specific time frame. This data would then be correlated to an objective which had been previously set.
Key performance indicators alone, however, do not give business owners a full picture of what is currently happening in a store. They must be combined with other metrics to provide an accurate overall representation of ongoing trends. Ideally these statistics should be presented in a manner that readily illustrates the information both in summary and in detail. The presentation should also be easily understood within a short period of time.
Business owners need to have ready access to real time data about customer needs and purchases. Standard reports often do not provide this type of information. Companies can generate the statistics but the effort can be time consuming and redundant. Off the shelf software frequently supplies generic solutions. A business intelligence dashboard accumulates figures efficiently and presents them in an easily understood format.