As a client success manager, the best part of my job is witnessing the positive change that our projects make to people’s lives. We spend many of our waking hours at work and I strongly believe that improving our lives at work positively impacts our personal lives outside of the office.
The other day I visited a client who has been on a year-long journey of business process improvement. Their project kicked off with the replacement of their ‘old’ ERP system with Microsoft Dynamics 365, which includes both ERP and CRM software. The two systems alone improved the business process immensely and brought many benefits to the organisation. However, when talking to the users the other day, it was clear they considered the biggest achievement to be the introduction of Power BI, their chosen business intelligence tool.
The common feedback I received is that the true value of the enterprise system is being realised with the power of Power BI (no pun intended).
Every day, I meet with prospects who have invested a lot of time, money, and resources in implementing new systems, yet they have not realised the full potential of their investment because they are not leveraging the information stored in their systems.
- The project of replacing the ERP system itself can be quite an overwhelming process. It is a major undertaking and so much focus and energy is put into making sure everything goes well that implementing BI on top is not considered urgent, so it gets pushed back.
- Change management – users are intimidated by BI. They think it’s too technical. They worry they might ‘break’ their ERP or CRM systems. So, they go back to exporting and manipulating data from their systems into Excel; ‘the comfort zone’.
For my client, Power BI has been the ‘a-ha’ moment; it has multiplied the value of the underlying transactional systems. The ERP, CRM, Payroll, and other systems have streamlined processes, improved the quality of data, etc., but the greatest impact was achieved by layering Power BI over their data. Power BI has allowed users to make their own data discoveries and answer their own questions.
A big vision with small steps
The approach of starting will small projects and expanding where most needed is what made this BI project so successful for this client. Focusing on resolving the most urgent reporting needs has helped prove to the business leaders the positive impact that Power BI can bring across teams. This has increased buy-in into the project and increased adoption across the organisation.
The first step was to tackle sales reporting. The sales manager was an early adopter of Power BI, a self-starter who dove deep into the data and was able to analyse data and share insights with the rest of the team. Every week, the sales team gets together and reviews the Power BI sales dashboard. They instantly drill down to understand how they can improve and follow up a week later to measure the impact of their actions. Seeing this positive change and the results it drives has motivated other teams to follow the same path.
The advantages of Power BI
With Power BI being part of the Microsoft family, users find familiarity in its look and feel. It is a tool built for the business users, in that they can self-serve their data questions without the need to involve technical people. In addition, Microsoft has made available many tutorial videos which make it easy for more confident users to self-teach how to create and amend their own reports.
We live in an era where having access to a vast amount of data is seen as a big advantage. We think the more the better. However, many times having access to all this data can be overwhelming for users. They do not know how to interpret data and how to use it to make decisions
Business intelligence tools can make such a big difference to our performance at work, yet they are perceived as a scary and complicated tool. Starting with a small project that delivers maximum impact in the reporting process for business users, may be the best approach for a project. The small, positive impacts will spread across the organisation and the change will happen.