My son recently asked me, “Why do I need to learn about History?” Now I know that question is partially intended to just get out of school work, but it is a good question that has had an educated answer for many years. I responded, “When we know about the past, we learn about the future and the mistakes we have made in the past. To not repeat what we did wrong and be better people.”
It is important in business to look at past trends as it helps to get a base plan for the future. Because businesses constantly face an unstable marketplace and economy, you need to use all your resources to stay ahead of the market and that includes having real-time data. Now if you leverage past conditions to help create a viable forecast model then you are headed in the right direction and most likely ahead of your competitors. It will certainly help you stay strong in hard times as forecasting has been established as an important component of a business’ strategy planning.
Chances are you use forecasting in your daily life. If you are planning a nice weekend trip with the family you probably will check the weather forecast to determine if it will be a day at the beach or a trip to the movies. Those meteorologists use all the tools available to give you the most accurate forecast, and sometime as we know they are wrong, but most of the time they get a pretty good idea of what you can expect. So you need the right tools to do your forecasting and that is where Business Intelligence Software comes in.
To get started you have to know the steps to efficiently and effectively forecast:
Have Real-Time Precision
The great question Product and Sales Managers ask is, “When do I put the right product, in front of the right customer, at the right time?” You have to be precise as to when to do this. With BI (Business Intelligence) software, you get up to the second data which gives you the ability to forecast future sales and revenue. This is where the past shapes the future. Your precise historical data helps shape your future decisions but with real-time reporting found in BI software, you can adjust quickly and stay ahead of the market.
Have Data Available In One Location
It is not uncommon for your business to have multiple applications and servers to store your data. You most likely have to process many different types of workflows so it is understandable that you will have your data in many different locations. Now your Sales Manager wants to create a forecast but has to go looking in all different locations and often times cannot find all the prudent data so the forecast is unfortunately inaccurate.
BI Software can store your data in one location, such as a dashboard, so that your Sales Manager has everything needed easily, eliminating the need to go hunt for it. Now you have the tools to create that proper forecast model and you know it will be accurate as possible with nothing getting lost saving a lot of time and money which brings me to step three…
Optimize Time Management
Your Sales Manager can take weeks creating a forecast. By the time you get that forecast model, the market has changed and it’s time to do the process all over again. All of that time spent was for nothing and now your business is behind and sales are not what you would like them to be. It’s not always the fault of the Sales Manager because remember, you have your data scattered all over the place and trying to track it down is almost an exercise in futility.
BI Software has that centralized location feature that eliminates the hours spent searching and you get that forecast in just a couple of days instead of those weeks if not sooner. Now you are ahead, not behind, and your Sales Manager can focus more on training and developing the sales team increasing sales even more that predicted.
Simplify Data Presentation
Reports can be pages long, complex, and really don’t give you that snapshot of your business as it stands. Therefore, you are constantly going to your Sales Manager or other members of the team to clarify what is being shown. Usually this report gets passed along to Senior Management and even Board Members, but some of those who get this report are not as technically inclined as the ones who created it.
BI Tools and Software focus on making the data as easy to understand as possible by adding elements such as imagery to simplify the reports. Instead of having a 12 page detailed report, BI software can present a basic one or two page summary that is easy to comprehend to people of all technical abilities and therefore forecasting becomes much simpler for all parties involved in the decision making process.
Now that you have the steps, you just need the last piece of the puzzle to get your forecasting models. If you do not have a BI solution, get with the Mindlin Consulting Group to help guide you in the right direction and find the right BI Software and tools to get your business ahead of market trends.