business intelligence reporting best practices

Business Intelligence Reporting Best Practices

Business Intelligence Reporting Best Practices help you build insightful BI dashboards and reports that can help you make better decisions. Here are the top 5 Business Intelligence Reporting Best Practices to follow to make your BI project a success.


What is Business Intelligence Reporting

Business Intelligence Reporting (BI Reporting) is the process of gathering, transforming, analyzing and reporting data in visual dashboards & reports using tables, charts & graphs, and delivering them to end users through various mediums such as email, pdf, web portal, etc. Business Intelligence Reporting projects can be implemented as a standalone reporting project, or a part of a large BI system. BI Reporting systems are responsible for generation and delivery of BI deliverables such as reports & dashboards for end users.


Benefits of Business Intelligence Reporting

Here are the key benefits of business intelligence reporting. BI Reporting:

  • Gives at-a-glance status of your business processes
  • Allows you to analyze data from various business systems across the organization
  • Get visual insights about your data
  • Easily share reports & dashboards across organization and foster collaboration
  • Track key metrics & KPIs about every business area of your organization


Business Intelligence Reporting Best Practices

Here are key business intelligence reporting best practices you can adopt in your BI projects.


1. Understand Your Audience

One of the most important business intelligence best practices is to clearly understand your audience. Different people in an organization require different kinds of information. For example, vice presidents and executives look for summarized information while operational managers and analysts look for granular information.

So it is important to understand who will use your BI reports, how and when. It is also important to understand what KPI metrics matter the most to them. This will give you an idea of the kind of data you need to process in your BI system.

Bonus Read : Real-time Business Intelligence & Analytics Best Practices


2. Get sign off from key stakeholders & decision makers

It is important to get a sign off from all the key stakeholders and decision makers about business intelligence reporting requirements. Otherwise, it will lead to unnecessary iterations and updates during implementation.

Typically, there are 3 kinds of users who are involved in a BI reporting project. First, is the end users (such as sales, marketing, operations department) who will use your BI reporting system on a regular basis. Second is the IT department that has to make sure that your BI system gets all the required data, and works in compliance with all IT policies. Finally you will have one or more members from senior management (CIO, CTO, CMO, etc) to oversee the entire project.

It is important to get these stakeholders to collaborate from the beginning, to avoid unnecessary back and forth later on.

Bonus Read : How to Create Executive Dashboard & Reports


3. Identify required data sources

If your business intelligence reporting system doesn’t get the required data it won’t deliver expected results. So make sure you have clearly identified all the required data sources for your BI project.

Some data sources will be readily available and usable, while some may require data transformation before use. Make a list of all required data sources, along with their format, storage location, and transformations required to use them in your BI system.

Some data sources may not be available at all. Your organization may have to purchase such data from third-party vendors, or reduce the project scope altogether to work without these unavailable data sources. In either case, inform project stakeholders about these data requirements.

Bonus Read : How to Create Executive Dashboard & Reports


4. Create report mock ups

One of the key business intelligence reporting best practices is to ensure that you create mock-ups that are as close as possible to the final BI reports. It allows end users and stakeholders to understand what to expect in BI deliverables. It also gives them an opportunity to provide early feedback, that will help implementation.

Use a dashboard reporting tool to quickly mock up your BI report designs. These BI tools provide a drag & drop report editor that allows you to easily design dashboards and make edits. They also offer many point-and-click customization options, to help you build variety of BI reports for your organization. They even allow you to present dashboard mock-ups on large TV, or export them as Image/PDF.

So build sample BI dashboards & reports, and present them to your target audience, before building your BI system.

Bonus Read : HR Dashboards & Reports – Benefits, Examples, KPI


5. Create a Small Proof Of Concept (POC)

Business Intelligence Reporting Systems are fairly complicated with many moving parts. So build a POC for a small subset of data and users. This will help you identify and fix issues early on. Make sure to keep key stakeholders involved all along.

Create business intelligence reporting system for a small set of users, with a small set of reports. Get feedback from end users and stakeholders before proceeding to scale your BI system. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed with issues and questions from BI users.

Similarly, go for a phase-wise rollout of your BI system, so that you can easily onboard users, and update your BI system iteratively.

Bonus Read : Agile Business Intelligence & Data Analytics


Hopefully, the above business intelligence reporting best practices will help you develop a robust and user-friendly business intelligence system for your organization.

Ubiq makes it easy to visualize data in minutes, and monitor in real-time dashboards. Try it Today!


Sreeram Sreenivasan is the Founder of Ubiq. He has helped many Fortune 500 companies in the areas of BI & software development.