Let’s start by saying that in some part every business does some element of business reporting. Every business will look at some form of metrics that describe performance, whether that be accountancy reports showing profit and loss, or more detailed sales analysis.
And the process of collecting the data and analysing it so that the company gets the required information which can help in making key decisions is known as business reporting.
Different types of business reports
There are many types of business reports that are used by companies to gain insight into their own sales performance, financial performance, external market conditions, their competitors, website traffic, operational processes and more.
All these reports help managers at all levels of a business understand the market and the health of their company and based on their understanding of the data they are then able to make decisions for their future.
The main challenge faced by SMEs
The main challenge faced by SMEs is one of capability. Whilst most businesses are capable of producing some business reports they don’t all have the skills or the right tools in-house to be able to generate the type of in-depth tools that can really help accelerate data-driven decision-making.
The types of reports that SMEs usually have are large spreadsheets that contain lots of data arranged in grids. None of which is easy to read, understand or interpret. As a result, these reports most likely only get produced once a month and are only used to measure top-line performance.
Larger enterprise companies all have teams of people dedicated to data. These teams can generate complex business reports that provide high levels of detail for all levels of their business on a daily basis as they have access to the right tools to do so.
But this type of in-house analytics isn’t readily available to SMEs.
Why is it important for SMEs to improve their business reporting?
In a competitive world, businesses need to leverage everything at their disposal to maximise sales, improve customer retention, increase margins and ultimately make more money. Whilst many businesses would say that they would rather spend money on R&D and product innovation or more marketing activities without business reports they may be spending in the wrong areas. As such, business reports should be the first thing that businesses invest in.
Let’s consider a small business spending money on advertising some of its best-selling products. This may yield some sales, and maybe provide a good return on investment. So they think it was good. But what if they were advertising the wrong products to their potential customers? What if they knew that a particular group of customers were more likely to buy a different set of products? Could their advertising campaign have been more successful?
By having some sales reports that helped break down product sales by customer groups then the business would have been able to identify the types of products that were selling to specific groups and target those accordingly. They would also be able to identify products that these customers are starting to buy more of and are going to be the next big thing in terms of product sales.
Without some business reports to provide the right level of detail, many of these decisions can be left up to gut feeling and may not be the most successful course of action.
What is the cost for an SME for Enterprise Level Business Reporting?
In order to improve reporting in any business there does have to be some level of investment, and this investment can work in a couple of ways:
Train existing staff to be data analysts.
You could look at your current team and see if there is scope to invest in them as individuals. Providing training in specialist business intelligence software would enable them to provide the business with reports that would help them answer many of the questions that they need to know, in a similar way to larger enterprises.
However, training staff in a specialist area such as data analytics would take time and most likely cost a lot in courses, as well as requiring someone who would want to learn this new skill. This type of person may not be forthcoming in an SME.
Outsource the Data Analytics.
Many SMEs would outsource different parts of their business to specialists as it is generally more cost-effective to do this than bring in new hires. But with something as specialised as data analytics, the costs of hiring external consultants to build dashboard solutions may still be beyond the average SME, with costs running into the thousands.
However, with modern business intelligence tools like Sontai, this cost falls to a low monthly fee, making enterprise-level analytics much more accessible to SMEs. The prebuilt Sontai dashboards cover key metrics in areas such as Sales, CRM and Finance and are plug-and-play into the systems that SMEs use every day, all with no IT support or technical knowledge required.
Why not learn more about what Sontai can offer, by booking a no-obligation demo, to see our platform in action!