By: Eric Vandenberg
Director of Customer Solutions & Product Marketing
Harvest Food Solutions
Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will always end up someplace else.” Reporting is necessary, even mandatory, for your perishable foods business. Having detailed knowledge about your sales, returns, sales reps, and performance are key to making solid business decisions. Sales reports help you to keep on top of your team’s performance, but are you tracking the right metrics? The same old sales reports were good, but making your data actionable is critical to building your brand. Despite the benefits of reports, there are a few serious downsides to sales reports.
Ditch your sales reports
Historically, to create a sales report you start with a spreadsheet. They are easy to use and edit, but also notoriously easy to break. You begin with static data, which requires manual data imports. Manual imports are not only time consuming, but take you away from other valuable tasks you could be doing for your company. Not to mention, you probably write once and deploy once – which means the spreadsheet presentation only gets updated when there is a critical failure. These types of failures are often something that, with the right tools, could have been forecasted. It today’s world, with robust and easy to use tools, why are we still making our jobs more difficult than they need to be?
I am sure the answer is yes, but can you relate to any of these scenarios?
- Have you ever had corrupt data?
- Have you ever had an item that did not get setup correctly?
- Did you have a customer change that didn’t populate in your sales reports?
Bad data is more common than not, but why? Why should you settle for an ever-changing, iterative process? You don’t let someone with poor ethics tell you how to run your business, so why should you let bad data do the same?
Reports are also notoriously hard to maintain, especially for those on your team that need the data but are not tech-savvy. The way your sales report looks is just as important as the data and insights it contains. Let’s be honest – we have ALL received reports that are chock full of percentages and data – to then throw it on our desk or file it away. How impactful was that report? Not so much because it wasn’t impactful to the end-user.
It is time to start using business intelligence
The term business intelligence (BI) means taking operational data and putting it to use in making informed business decisions. Business intelligence tools, like HarvestBI, take massive amounts of data and integrates it, analyzes it, and presents timely findings.
Here are three reasons why I think you should ditch your sales reports and start using business intelligence:
- Reporting meant for you
Your company’s success depends on your team making accurate decisions based on your vision. These accurate decisions are based on your team’s interpretation of the data. In order to do it right, you have to understand learning styles.There are five basic learning styles, which include: visual, aural, verbal, physical, and logical. A traditional sales report provides good information – but only hits one learning style – logical. These types of summaries are high-level overviews and may not provide you, or your team, with visual trends or relationships to explain overall business performance.
If you have only used reporting tools, without any business intelligence (bi) capabilities, then you understand the limitations of static reporting. BI produce reports that are also visual. BI provides you and your team with images or cues to help process the information being reported.
Speak to your team, where are they are at? Being competitive and efficient in your perishable foods business means you are giving your team the data they need in the style they need. Business intelligence is affordable and effective, and can easily translate your data into real, actionable, business opportunities.
The power of our BI solution is in its ability to present complex, raw data in a simple but powerful way. We offer visually impactful reporting that can be understood by all departments within your company. The metrics displayed in your HarvestBI dashboard can be changed to show exactly what you want, no matter if you are in sales, operations, or ownership. In addition, you can drill-down to get as detailed as you need to better understand business habits and trends.
- Business Intelligence tells you how to improve business performance
By analyzing your performance over time, you can discover data relationships you never even knew about…until now! For example, what is the correlation between variations in demand for seasonal products and staffing levels? Or, what is the relationship between customer loyalty and customer satisfaction? Understanding these types of relationships allows you to maximize your efficiency and profitability. You can improve your business performance by discovering new relationships between multiple sources of data.A great Bi application, like HarvestBI, will also allow the less tech-savvy users in your operation to participate in business analytics. Service business intelligence (service BI) includes data filters to allow users from your team to sort and analyze without help from your BI and/or information technology (IT) teams. With an easy to use platform like HarvestBI anyone from your team can get real-time meaningful answers and insights to help them with their department goals.
A quality BI tool will also bring the whole team accessible insights that translate into business opportunities because of the way the data is reported. A report that is more aesthetically pleasing will not only be easier to understand, but it will also be much more compelling. The reports you extract from HarvestBI are rich with knowledge so you can easily discover actionable patterns in your data.
- A 360-degree look into your business
A high-quality BI tool, like HarvestBI, allows you to combine multiple data sources into one accessible platform. The ability to combine relevant big data, as well as historical data, means you will get a 360-degree view of your business. With HarvestBI this includes insights such as:
- Company metrics and leading indicators for owners, managers, and employees
- Complex manufacturing trends to build decision support systems
- Predictive analytics to understand future trends
- Benchmarks to integrate your teams
- Better ways of analyzing data from sources locked away in siloed systems throughout your business
HarvestBI brings you customizable reporting to visualize your whole organization in one easy to access platform. This powerful dashboard allows you to leverage data visualizations from anywhere in the world – even if your company has multiple sites in different physical locations. An integrated BI platform makes it easy for all departments to share data analytics both inside, and outside, of your organization.
The amount of time and effort you have to put into running your perishable foods business is extraordinary. Ditch antiquated reporting tools and start using business intelligence. Give us a call today to find out how we can help your business now and into the future.