Business Intelligence vs Operational Reporting vs Financial Reporting (part 1)

Business Intelligence vs Operational Reporting vs Financial Reporting (part 1)

11th September 2013


The seemingly endless number of reporting and analytical options that exist for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers can leave decision makers confused about what they need, and when to use which tool. To help navigate this confusion, I will be writing a 3-part blog that focuses on some specific business requirements, and the tools that best fit those needs. Today for part 1, we will be focusing on differentiating an Operational Reporting tool such as One View Reporting (OVR) from a Data Warehouse based Business Intelligence (BI) solution. The second part to the blog will focus on the differences between Financial Reporting and BI Analytics. The third and final post will focus on consideration factors for determining your Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence solution.
Operational Reporting and Business Intelligence each serve specific purposes for different roles and responsibilities that exist within a typical business. Operational Reporting fulfills a key need to various consumers of tactical data, whereas Business Intelligence provides an analytical and strategic perspective of the enterprise as a whole. Both solutions provide vital roles in your organization, and one does not replace the other.

Operational Reporting

Operational Reporting solutions should deliver the following benefits:
  • Real Time Reporting – To be of benefit, Operational Reporting needs to provide current information to its consumer. For example, it does not do the shipping dock much good to view a list of ready-to-be-shipped orders from yesterday.
  • Detailed Information – Operational Reporting must present the data in the lowest level of granularity. For example, if there is a sales line that is backordered and needs to be filled, the responsible parties need to know the specifics of the transaction.
  • Flexibility – To limit your dependence on IT, your Operational Reporting solution should provide flexibility to enable end users to create their own specific views of the data.
A few years ago, Oracle released a built-in Operational Reporting tool for EnterpriseOne called One View Reporting (OVR). OVR is an intuitive tool that is easy to use and meets the requirements listed above. It integrates nicely into the JDE interface, which allows for a seamless user experience.
Just like other Operational Reporting tools, OVR is not and should not be considered a Business Intelligence solution as it falls short in specific areas. Operational Reporting by itself does not meet the needs of your Executive and Management teams, nor does it provide the appropriate visibility to your relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) throughout your organization. OVR is limited to JD Edwards data, and does not extend to include other relevant data sources that help to provide a full picture of enterprise performance such as Point of Sale (POS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data. Operational Reporting tools also do a poor job of delivering analytics across subject areas in a common view.

Business Intelligence

Executives and Managers require a different perspective of how data is viewed and interacted with. They need to see the complete picture when it comes to enterprise performance, and cannot be limited to just a silo of JD Edwards data.   A data warehouse resolves this issue by consolidating and integrating not only your JD Edwards data, but also other sources of data that can include:
  • Additional ERP Systems
  • CRM Data
  • Budget, Goal, Plan and Forecast Data
  • Point of Sale (POS) Data
  • Web Applications
  • Spreadsheets
  • Other
By combining data from these disparate data sources into a centralized data warehouse, BI solutions provide a complete view of your enterprise, as well as a single location for your users to satisfy their analytical needs.  BI Dashboards are built on top of the data warehouse, providing a clear representation of what is going on within the business.
Business Intelligence also helps change your company culture by incorporating KPIs into daily activities. Relevant KPIs should be defined by management, and then regularly measured via the BI solution.  These measurements, which may contain information for multiple data sources, can then be compared to preset corporate goals and plans, providing clarity to company performance.  All consumers of BI should have visibility to these same KPIs, creating an environment where all employees understand what is important, and what needs to be improved.
Another huge difference between BI and Operational Reporting is how you interact with the data. As stated earlier, Operational Reporting is deliberately detailed, and presents a ‘Query, then Analyze‘ mentality. This can make it difficult and time consuming for users to be able to identify trends and exceptions in the data.  I see a lot of customers that try to create a BI view by running operational reports, dumping huge amounts of data into Excel, and then manipulating a series of spreadsheets to create a dashboard view.  This is obviously very time consuming and error prone, not to mention frustrating to employees that do the work.
Conversely, BI solutions built on top of a data warehouse aggregate the data to useful levels, and then leverage functionality like exception highlighting and graphs to clearly identify critical trends and exceptions to your data. End users then have the ability to drill into areas of interest down to the appropriate level of granularity (even the individual transactions if necessary).  This approach represents more of an ‘Analyze, then Query‘ mode of operation, which is fundamentally different from Operational Reporting.
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