/ The top 5 reporting tool use cases for small businesses

The top 5 reporting tool use cases for small businesses

Small business owners are a key part of the modern economy. They are risk-takers, job creators, and vital members of their communities. In order to succeed, they need to make smart decisions based on data.

But in an industry that is inundated with information, it can be tough to know where to start. Even the savviest business owners face information overload.

Do you ever find yourself asking any of the following questions?

  • How can I increase sales and grow my business?
  • Who are my best customers, and how can I keep them loyal?
  • How can I improve efficiency and reduce costs?
  • Is my inventory healthy, and how can I prevent stockouts?
  • How can I find and retain the best employees?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you need to usebusiness intelligence (BI) in the form of a reporting tool. BI reporting tools offer small businesses the ability to make data-driven decisions.

When you can collect, clean, and interpret your data, you can answer the tough questions and make informed decisions about your business.

Not sure where to start? In this article, we will break down the top five reporting tool use cases for small businesses. But first, let’s define what BI reporting tools are and what they can do for your business.

 

What are BI reporting tools?

Every day, your small business ingests mountains of data. This data comes from a variety of sources, including sales transactions, customer surveys, website analytics, social media interactions, and more.

It would be impossible to make sense of all this data without the help of business intelligence reporting tools.

BI reporting tools are software applications that help you collect, clean, and interpret your data. They offer many unique benefits, including the ability to:

  • Monitor KPIs in real-time
  • Create informative reports
  • Share insights with teammates and stakeholders
  • Drill down into data for deeper analysis
  • Automate repetitive tasks

These benefits—though they may seem small—can have a big impact on your business. When you have the right BI reporting tools in place, you can make data-driven decisions that improve efficiency, grow revenue, and increase profitability.

 

Why should my small business care about reporting tools?

If you’re like most small business owners, you wear a lot of hats. You are responsible for sales, marketing, customer service, finance, HR, and more.

With so many things to handle, it can be tough to find time to focus on your data. But if you want to make informed decisions about your business, it is essential that you take the time to understand your data.

When you can run and create reports, you can track your progress, monitor your KPIs, and identify areas of improvement. This information is invaluable for making business decisions.

For example, imagine that you run a local accounting firm. You are trying to decide whether to invest in a new CRM system. Without data, you would have to make this decision based on your best guesses.

But if you run a report that shows how much time your employees spend on administrative tasks, you can make a more informed decision. Maybe you find that your employees spend 10 hours per week on administrative tasks. This information would lead you to invest in a CRM system that automates these tasks, freeing up your employees’ time so they can focus on billable work.

As you can see, reporting tools can help you make better decisions about your business. Now, let’s take a look at the top five reporting tool use cases for small businesses.

 
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Use case 1: Sales and marketing performance analysis

One of the most popular reporting tool use cases is sales and marketing performance analysis. When you can track your sales and marketing KPIs, you can make informed decisions about your campaigns and strategies.

There are a number of KPIs you can track with reporting tools, including:

  • Sales goals
  • Revenue
  • Cost per lead
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Churn rate

By tracking these KPIs, you can see which sales and marketing strategies are working and which ones need to be improved.

Example:

Let’s say that you run a small e-commerce business. You are trying to decide whether to invest in a new social media marketing campaign.

You can use reporting tools to track your sales goals, revenue, cost per lead, and other KPIs. If you see that your social media campaign is not meeting your sales goals, you can make the decision to invest in a new campaign.

 

Use case 2: Customer data analysis

When you can track and analyze your customer data, you can improve your customer relationships.

When you know your customer data, you can segment your customers, personalize your communications, and provide better customer support. Obviously, your customers are more likely to be loyal to you when you provide them with a great customer experience.

There are a number of customer data points you can track, including:

  • Customer location
  • Customer age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Purchase history
  • Customer lifetime value

Example:

Let’s say that you run a small online store. You want to improve your customer relationships, so you decide to segment your customers.

You use reporting tools to track your customer data, including location, age, gender, income, and purchase history. Based on this information, you segment your customers into different groups.

You then create targeted marketing campaigns and personalized communications for each customer group. As a result, you improve your customer relationships and loyalty.

 

Use case 3: Financial analysis

Third, reporting tools are great for financial analysis. When you can track your financial KPIs, you can make informed decisions about your business.

Reporting on valuable financial KPIs can help you save money, make money, and improve your cash flow. There are a number of financial KPIs you can track with reporting tools, including:

  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit margin
  • Cash flow
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable

By tracking these KPIs, you can see where your business is making and losing money. You can then make decisions to improve your financial performance.

Example:

If you run a small flower shop, you likely have a lot of expenses, such as the cost of flowers, the cost of rent, and the cost of labor.

You can use reporting tools to track your revenue and expenses. If you see that your expenses are higher than your revenue, you can make decisions to reduce your costs. Maybe you decide to negotiate with your flower supplier for a lower price. Or maybe you decide to move to a cheaper location.

 
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Use case 4: Inventory management

Another popular use case for reporting tools is inventory management. When you can track your inventory KPIs, you can make informed decisions about your stock.

Reporting on your inventory can help you avoid stockouts, improve your turnover, and reduce your costs. Nothing helps a business run smoother than having the right amount of inventory on hand.

There are a number of inventory KPIs you can track with reporting tools, including:

  • Inventory levels
  • Stockouts
  • Turnover
  • Costs

By tracking the amount of inventory you have on hand, you can avoid stockouts. By tracking your turnover, you can ensure that your inventory is moving quickly. And by tracking your costs, you can reduce your expenses.

Example:

You run a small bookstore and want to improve your inventory management. You use reporting tools to track your inventory levels, stockouts, turnover, and costs.

You see that you have a lot of inventory on hand, so you decide to sell some of it at a discount. You also see that you have a high turnover, so you decide to increase your order frequency. As a result, you improve your inventory management and save money.

 

Use case 5: Human resources analysis

The final use case we’ll discuss is human resources analysis. When you can track your human resources KPIs, you can make informed decisions about your workforce.

Reporting on your human resources can help you improve your employee retention, reduce your costs, and improve your productivity.

HR professionals can utilize reporting tools to track a number of KPIs, including:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Turnover
  • Productivity
  • Engagement
  • Recruitment costs

By tracking employee satisfaction, you can see if your employees are happy with their jobs. If you see that employee satisfaction is low, you can take steps to improve it. Maybe you offer more training or development opportunities, or you improve your benefits package.

By tracking turnover, you can see if your employees are leaving their jobs. If you see that turnover is high, you can take steps to reduce it. Maybe you improve working conditions—and see how that impacts your business.

 

The bottom line

Reporting tools offer a number of benefits for small businesses. They can help you track your performance, make informed decisions, and improve your bottom line. If you’re not using reporting tools yet, now is the time to start.

Make sure to choose the right tool for your business. Not all reporting tools are created equal. Some are better suited for certain businesses than others. Do your research and choose a tool that will work well for you.

The five use cases we’ve discussed are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways you can use reporting tools to improve your business. So get started today and see how reporting tools can help you take your business to the next level.

Check out some related resources:

Why BI Programs Fail to Scale: The Data Decision Gap

How ESPN used Domo’s intelligent apps to increase customer satisfaction

How a leading fashion retailer is using data to drive growth

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