Everyone agrees that business intelligence platforms have become an increasingly valuable asset to successful business management. And no wonder: They increase transparency, save time, allow you to invest in and monitor improvements in process, provide access to real time information and present a uniform set of facts, guidelines and policies to the entire organization. Just what you save in avoiding misunderstandings and confusion can be considerable.

It’s also wonderful to have everything you need to know in one place. Considering the never-ending explosion of information every business needs to monitor, business intelligence platforms are only going to become more popular, powerful and complex. Yet, obviously some business intelligence platforms perform better than others. Here is a guide to some of the broad issues you need to consider to ensure your business intelligence platform performs like you want it to.

Identify Key Requirements

A business intelligence platform is only as good as it is useful. That means you need to define in advance exactly what you want it to do and how you want to accomplish it. One thing you can be certain of, your platform won’t do what it’s supposed to do if you are not sure what it should do yourself. Every company’s worst nightmare is to end up with something that looks impressive and sounds nice, but doesn’t actually do anything very useful. The time to identify your key performance metrics is at the very beginning.

Involve the Users

Top management usually knows what’s best when it comes to setting goals, but often it is the people following the orders who know the nuts and bolts of how to get things done. Don’t underestimate the value of the information known by the people who will actually interact with the business intelligence platform. Asking them for input also makes them feel less like the business intelligence platform is something that’s being imposed on them. They will also be more likely to use and promote it if they feel they had some input into how it works.

Fits With Current Procedures

Whenever possible, avoid changing something that’s already working. Too many business intelligence platforms re-invent the wheel, forcing employees to relearn a process that was working fine before. Remember, your goal is to improve the ability of your employees to do their jobs, and any extra time they have to spend learning new procedures is time they aren’t being productive. This is another reason why getting as much feedback from your employees as possible before you build the platform is so important.

Dashboard Design

Your business intelligence dashboard design is essential on several fronts. One is aesthetic, you want your dashboard to look cool and slick. But it’s performance, not appearance that determines the true value of your business intelligence platform. Always put functionality ahead of appearance.

Don’t Take Forever

In some organizations, it can appear that their business intelligence platform is always a work in progress. Implementation should not run on for so long that it becomes outdated before it even debuts. With the rapid changes continually underway in the business world of today, you can’t afford to get bogged down in the implementation process. Set a deadline to complete the platform, and then meet it.

Because there are so many obvious benefits to a business intelligence platform, it is not surprising that they have become so popular. However, always keep your platform’s key performance requirements foremost in mind, get lots of feedback from the people who are going to use the platform, don’t reinvent the wheel and try not to take forever getting it up and running. If you can successfully dodge these pitfalls, then you may well find that your business intelligence platform has got your organization running better and more profitably than ever before.