You have your CRM. It’s wonderful. You can track your constituents, record their gifts, keep track of which events they attended, and have insight into the upcoming activities associated with their major gift ask. CRM is a great repository of data, but how you use the data is what really matters. Enter business intelligence.

Business intelligence is nothing more than using data to make decisions. It does not require a complex data warehouse or a set of fancy business intelligence tools in order to be effective. In many instances a data warehouse does help to aid in complex reporting, but don’t assume that one is required to utilize business intelligence.

Reports, Reports, Reports…

While implementing Blackbaud solutions with customers, I routinely heard “I need X report and Y report, and it has to be replicated exactly how we have it today.” I would always ask why and what the report was used for. More often that not, the response was that the necessary data is on page 14 of the 40 page report and it’s only used on a monthly basis despite being run weekly and then that data is aggregated with data from five other reports to achieve the end result. Needless to say, this is not efficient.

Take the time now to evaluate your reports. Are they being used efficiently? Do they contain the data necessary to make decisions in a concise and logical manner? If not, figure out why. Ensure that your reports are able to answer the questions they are intended to answer and are not simply providing a fraction of that response.

Consuming the Intelligence

Business intelligence, while often delivered in the form of a report, can be delivered in a variety of mechanisms. In some instances, it can be a series of dashboards containing a snapshot of metrics. In other instances it can be a list of data used to initiate a follow up action.

Determine if your current business intelligence is being delivered in a way that is easy to consume and guide decision-making processes. If business intelligence cannot be used in a simplified manner, then it is unable to be used to aid in decisions.

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