The Business Intelligence side of Lean BI

BI in Lean BI

Business intelligence (BI) - Wikipedia defines it as the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. 

To some, Business Intelligence evokes visions of programmers, software and enormous data sets. That's not Lean BI. Lean BI takes a guerrilla approach to Business Intelligence.

For example; Microsoft Excel, some argue has the power to manipulate all but the largest data sets. While debatable, it's an indication of its capabilities with operational data. Most Excel users barely touch its full capabilities. Since Excel is already installed on most computers it’s the perfect vehicle for creating and displaying Lean BI. If data manipulation is required (and it usually is), the manipulations can be automated (using Visual Basic for Applications) and run in the background so the average user requires no special skills.

Data Sharing

Another tool in BI is online data sharing. This is the ideal method for multiple facility operations. Lean BI uses Microsoft SharePoint because of its seamless integration with Excel. Smaller organizations may not need online data sharing, but it has many advantages. Instead of emailing files, online sharing allows everyone to see results. And, if your team posts the actions underway to address opportunities, (a recommended practice) everyone has visibility to those as well. There is no better way to create accountability than online data sharing. (Do not confuse online sharing with real-time data. Substantial performance improvement has occurred with data that’s updated monthly - but it was because that data told a complete story.)

Data visualization 

Data visualization is also a Business Intelligence tool and its a key Lean BI ingredient. Team understanding is maximized when data is presented in clean, easy to understand graphical displays. Instagram wouldn’t be so popular if people didn’t like images. Optimized results are attained when the entire team has a deep understand of the current state of a process. Well thought out graphical displays ensure everyone understands trends and opportunities that would otherwise be buried in numbers.

Compared to Business Intelligence Software

Compared to data analytics software, Lean Business Intelligence is a targeted, 100% focus on performance improvement. Data analytic software is great for examining raw data and drawing conclusions. But, with repeatable processes, the questions that need to be answered are predetermined; (i.e. where should the team be focused for maximum impact?) The data that provides that answer is also predetermined.

Here's a comparison of Lean BI to common BI software:

Characteristic Lean BI BI Software
Implementation targeted on an operational process that’s not performing to potential Yes No
Implementation ROI is obvious because it focuses on, and displays, the impact on business results Yes No
Process improvement experts help determine missing data that's necessary to create focus on business improvement Yes No
On-going costs are insignificant for software and licenses Yes No
Creates team specific responsibilities for the actions that will drive improved resultsYes No