Monday, 11 October 2010

Four Ways to Take Your Future Into Your Own Hands

How much faith do you have in your forecasts? Laden with assumptions and often supported with little data, projections tend to be shrouded in uncertainty, necessarily, and thus inspire little confidence. It isn’t unusual to hear forecasts likened to guesses, even by the teams that prepared them. To inspire more support for your projections, you need to consider four simple factors: data quality, business intelligence software, modeling capabilities, and a bias toward action. 

1. Data quality: Starting with unreliable data virtually assures that your conclusions – and resulting actions – will be ineffective. Forecasting practices can be improved substantially by gaining full access to all the data in your organization and pulling it together in a way that facilitates comparison and granular analysis.

2. Business intelligence software: Being able to reach across all the systems in your company for the data you need is simplified with a robust business intelligence solution, such as SAP® Crystal Reports®. This platform provides rich features without being cost-prohibitive to smaller and medium-sized businesses. Use this solution to make more sense of your data by turning it into analysis that can be put to work.

3. Modeling capabilities: What does the future hold? Even basic scenario modeling capabilities can help you understand the implications of the decisions that you make based on the analysis of your data. Before committing to a course of action, do some “what if” planning to test your assumptions.

4. A bias toward action: Forecasting and planning are meaningless if you don’t plan to take action. Use your analysis and scenario modeling to develop – and execute – a plan for the future. Turn your business intelligence efforts into results, and drive ROI for your organization. 

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