Our latest ebook, How to Prepare for BI and Analytics, is ready for release. Many companies jump into analytics without enough planning, and it comes back to haunt them. Even modest analytics projects can get bogged down by snags like bad data formatting, vague goals, and a lack of user adoption within the company. After reading this ebook, you may find you’re already prepared for analytics. On the other hand, you may find there’s some work to do before you can really take advantage of what analytics has to offer. Though these steps may seem like a hassle now, they’ll save you a headache in the long run. Furthermore, the more you prepare now, the more effective your analytics will be. The basic steps are fairly simple. You need to assess your data, make sure you understand your systems, choose your goals, and make sure you have your audience in mind.

Rethink your data

If you start with bad data, you’ll end up with bad analytics. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Take a look at how you capture data and verify its accuracy. If you find errors in your data, try tracing them back to their origins. Sometimes you’ll find a simple one-off error. Other times you’ll find a more systemic problem that you need to address. Generally speaking, you can improve the quality of your data by automating how you capture it and using multiple methods for verifying its accuracy.

You should also take a hard look at how you format your data. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, choose the path of least resistance when it comes to data formatting. They might skip certain data fields, or lump multiple data points into a single “notes” category. This approach works if all you need is basic recordkeeping, but it’s not really compatible with analytics. To make the most of analytics, you need rich, properly formatted data. The more information you have, the more there is to analyze.

Know your systems

Basic knowledge of your business tools (ERP, CRM, etc.) can go a long way towards your analytics goals. Our new ebook, How to Prepare for BI and Analytics, focuses on NetSuite, but its lessons apply regardless of what systems you use. If you run into a problem, the root cause of it is often found in the software you use. iCharts, for example, grabs its data from a NetSuite saved search. Without some knowledge of how NetSuite works, everything will move a little slower. The same can be said for whatever system you use. The more you can understand your systems, the more you can make sense of their data.

To learn more about preparing for analytics, stay tuned for part two, or download the ebook today