Is there a difference between Business Analysis and Business Intelligence? If so, what is it? How do I know which is right for me, and how do I get some?
I probably should just answer these questions, "who knows", "probably isn't any difference', and 'that's what a ProAdvisor is for (to both parts of the later)", but then that wouldn't make for a very informative article. Of course I am writing this on 'Turkey Day' so I don't know how informative it is going to be, or if anyone will ever even read it since it is going to be in print on 'Black Friday' when everyone is looking at their own 'business analytics' to see if they did make it into the black as a result of the day's sales.
Business Analytics can be defined as a methodiocal computation of an organization with emphasis on statistical analysis of business data. The results of Business Analytics should be both informational and decision-oriented; that is they should not only inform but produce a response.
Business Intelligence is a technology-driven approach to analyzing organizational data and presenting actionable information to aid in decision making. Business Intelligence must then encompass tools and applications that enable collection of the data, analyzing it, and creating dashboards, reports and other visualizations to make the analytical results available to the decisions makers.
So we might think of the two this way, "Business Analysis is the 'theory' and 'manual implementation of that theory', while Business Intelligence is an automated way of implementing the theoretical concept of Business Analysis."
Chances are, unless you are a gluten for punishment, or are studying for the QuickBooks Online Advanced Examination's Part 5, (and definitely if you are an end user such as a business owner, corporate executive or other decision maker) you are looking for a Business Intelligence solution (probably an 'App') that will do the work for you when it comes to all the computational work and datametrics that are part of Business Analysis.
QuickBooks users may want to look at some of these solutions for their Business Intelligence resource (presented here in 'alphabetical order' without any ranking of functionality or popularity):
Corelytics uses the genera “understand the Vital Signs of your business.” This app allows you to choose from a broad range of standard analytics; the computational work is done for you. Supposedly, according to their marketing materials, “All you need to do is look.” The application allows you to invite your accountant or advisor to help you review and set business priorities and also give them access to your dashboard.
Fathom provides “insightful dashboards and performance reports for your business.” Fathom is an easy way to measure and monitor the financial and non-financial metrics which matter most to your business by providing a suite of in-depth analysis tools and metrics that help you see exactly how well your business is performing. The tools help assess profitability, cash flow, growth and other key performance indicators.
Finagraph “translates your accounting software into actionable financial intelligence.” Finagraph crunches your numbers for you and instantly displays visual insights and performance indicators. In addition to the raw metrics Finagraph has incorporated charts, graphs and flags for instant visual recognition of where to focus. Analyze profits, COGS, sales and expenses in monthly, quarterly or yearly views from detailed charts and compare and contrast those metrics against benchmarks you set.
LivePlan is “budgeting, forecasting, and business performance dashboards made easy.” Provides an easy, automatic way to build budgets, forecast sales, and track performance. The LivePLan dashboard gives you insights you need to grow your business. Easily compare your budgets, forecasts and actual performance against industry benchmarks so you can see exactly how your business is doing compared to your peers.
Qvinci provides “financial consolidation reporting and benchmarking.” Allows you so see financial data from more than one location (or software source) and produce meaningful data that you can not only review but share with your accountants and/or advisors. Use ranking and benchmarking reports to identify best practices and see which locations need extra attention, as well as operational improvements. Set key performance measures for routine monitoring and get email alerts when those measures fall outside your settings.
This is certainly not an 'exhaustive' list of Apps available for QuickBooks Online users who are looking for more 'analysis' from their accounting data than QuickBooks can provide, but they do represent some of those which I have personally given a try. Check them out, they offer different 'trial subscriptions' that allow you to judge for yourself which App is best for your specific needs.
Let us hear back from you, 'what you think', if you try one of these Apps out. If you already use one of these Apps, or a different App for your Business Intelligence needs, let us know what you think about the App you are using, by posting your comments below.