How data ETL tools can help you improve business operations
ETL tools have been around for a while, but many businesses are still hesitant to adopt them into their everyday operations. This is a huge mistake! ETL tools can help reduce routine manual work, freeing up your employees to focus on more important tasks that will help the business grow. In this blog post, we will discuss the power of ETL tools and how they can improve your business operations!
What exactly is ETL?
ETL stands for extract, transform, and load. These three steps are essential to moving data from one place to another. ETL tools simplify this process by automating it, which can save your business a lot of time and money.
The process of ETL has been around for many many years. It often involved complex database manipulation, custom scripting, and using on-premise servers to store the data. With modern business intelligence (BI) tools, ETL has advanced to a stage where many of these mundane and complicated tasks are now a thing of the past.
What ETL tools are and what do they do?
One of the biggest benefits of ETL tools is that they can help you clean up your data. Data cleansing is an important but often tedious task that ETL tools can automate. This means that your employees can spend their time on more productive tasks instead of manually cleaning up data.
ETL tools can also help you standardize your data. This is important because it allows you to easily compare data from different sources. Without ETL tools, this process would be much more difficult and would require hours of manual data entry and prep.
How businesses can use ETL tools to improve operations
Businesses of all sizes can use ETL tools to streamline their business processes. No matter what department you work in, handling data will continue to be an increasingly important part of your job.
Examples of how businesses have used ETL tools to improve performance
ETL tools can be used to improve business processes in sales organization. One of the most important aspects of sales is timely reporting when it comes to quota attainment, total bookings, and rep efficiency. In organizations with hundreds of sales reps, summarizing this data can be critical for executives. ETL tools can be used to extract data from common sales systems — such as customer databases or CRM software — processed, analyzed, and then presented to sales leadership through the use of dashboards and visualizations.
ETL can also improve finance and accounting teams. These teams are often buried in spreadsheets, performing the same routine data entry and manipulation month after month. ETL tools can be used to connect to common financial systems such as NetSuite or QuickBooks. The tool can then automate the transformation of the data by creating calculated fields, combining reports for reconciliation, and building pre-built templates that can be reused for future months.
ETL tools also can have a huge impact on overall operational reporting for the business. Depending on your business, you most likely have huge transactional processing systems such as inventory management or point of sale. These systems can produce millions of transactions per day, and trying to analyze them can be quite daunting! A modern ETL tool can automate the ingestion and transformation of data of all sizes, increasing your power to analyze these business processes.
How to get started with ETL tools for your business
Thanks to modern BI tools, it’s incredibly easy to get started with an ETL tool, regardless of your technical background. BI was built for the business user in mind, meaning it required minimal additional training and no coding experience at all. Here are a few recommendations you can follow to get started with an ETL tool.
1. Partner with a vendor who specializes in ETL
With so many different types of BI vendors, it’s important to work with one who specializes in ETL and has tools readily available. Oftentimes, BI vendors focus solely on the end visualization of the data through dashboarding. Modern BI vendors have created end-to-end solutions that include advanced ETL capabilities. These tools can be extremely easy to get started with, even if you haven’t had experience with data.
2. Begin with basic ETL capabilities
Starting small is always a good idea when it comes to large ETL projects. With so many transformation types, it’s important to not be overwhelmed. Try simple ETL projects such as adding calculated fields or summarizing data through aggregation techniques. As you begin to become more familiar with the ETL tool, you can progress to more advanced topics such as joins, window functions, and data validation operations.
3. Work as a team
Never work in a vacuum. After purchasing a BI solution, try to involve as many people as possible in its implementation. Data can be quite intimidating. The most important thing is to get started and work through problems together when they inevitably arise. It may also be beneficial to create a data team that specializes in the ETL tool and can help other business users as they have questions.
4. Gather feedback from end-users
The end product of any ETL tool is to create actionable insights for end-users to consume. These end-users could be scattered throughout different parts of the organization. Consider doing feedback sessions and office hours, and encourage end-users to attend and freely provide their feedback. It’s very rare that an ETL project will turn out perfect on the first try. Be prepared to iterate and refine your ETL processes.
If you’re still on the fence about ETL tools, or if you think they won’t benefit your business, we urge you to try them out. We promise that you won’t regret it. ETL tools can help reduce routine manual work, freeing up your employees to focus on more important tasks that will help the business grow. Implementing an ETL tool is one of the best decisions you can make for your business.