How to Successfully Onboard a New Business Intelligence & Reporting Solution

The right business intelligence and reporting software can significantly enhance business outcomes by giving decision makers greater visibility and insight into sales and operational performance. But getting your whole team psyched up to use and get the most value out of a new data analysis (or, business intelligence) application may not always be easy. New software onboarding helps you succeed in that.


What Onboarding Is …

Onboarding is the phase that you as a customer go through between making the decision to use a new reporting tool and being a fully set up user of this software, knowing exactly how to extract the most value from it.

What are the benefits of a structured approach to onboarding a new business analytics and reporting application?

There are many reasons why a business would want to structure and optimize their onboarding processes:

  • To ensure high data quality. Otherwise, the application won’t be used.
  • To train and engage users.
  • To vet your current business data.
  • To create momentum with the new reporting solution, garnering high usage once the onboarding is complete.

How Onboarding Works …

With business analytics and reporting software, modern onboarding starts with understanding you as a customer – your current situation, current setup, your priorities, what you want to achieve with the new software, and your definition of success.

Having measurable success criteria is ideal and should be achievable during the onboarding process. Some of the first questions to ask yourself either before you make your software selection or begin your onboarding process are:

  • Why are we doing this? Is it to improve visibility to business performance? To have the ability to analyze and report on information across the enterprise? To give analysts and others self-service access to business data with minimum IT intervention? Or to improve the accuracy of data used for your business reporting?
  • How are we going to validate the data? Using our current reporting system? Manually? With Excel?
  • What are we looking to achieve? A system that’s trustworthy to use to help manage part or all of the business? To replace your current business analysis and reporting system? To reduce data manipulation in Excel for reporting? Or to leverage totally vetted data in your Power BI visualizations?
  • Who will make data corrections and set up new users once it’s live? Your IT team? Your vendor?

Based on that information, the vendor’s software onboarding team should customize a project plan to guide you through the migration and implementation phase. As the software offering evolves and changes over time, and as new features are released, good onboarding should also make sure that these features get used and that clients benefit from them.

An Iterative Approach to the Success of a New Reporting Solution

The onboarding process for a data analysis and reporting solution should employ an iterative approach that can be easily replicated whenever new data is made available to the application, when new features are added by the vendor to the application itself, or when new users in your business are introduced to the solution.

In working with more than 2,000 businesses over the years, we’ve found the following steps to be most beneficial in helping our clients organize a successful onboarding initiative using this approach.

  • Identify the Onboarding Team – This includes individuals from your business and from the vendor’s organization who will be involved in defining and orchestrating the onboarding program.
  • Define the Data Scope of the Onboarding Project – Once the scope of onboarding has been defined and communicated with the vendor, the vendor should create a prototype of their solution for you, mapping in a subset of your data for initial testing and actual use.
  • Schedule a Kickoff Meeting – A kickoff meeting between the Customer and Vendor teams will help to ensure that both sides are on the same page relative to the scope of the onboarding program.
  • Make Sure You Have All the Data You Need – In this stage, you’ll determine if you have the right data to feed the data model of your vendor’s solution to support your current and/or desired reports.
  • Configure & Integrate the New Reporting Application w/Existing Systems & Data Sources – This typically includes the remote installation of the reporting software on your hardware or in the cloud, as well as integrating the reporting solution to your ERP’s current and historical Sales or other business data previously defined in the data scope.
  • Validate The Data – There are certain strategies you can use in validating your data for the reporting solution. Your vendor should provide guidance to you during this step.
  • Final Steps Before “Go Live” – As you’re getting ready to go-live, various final steps will need to be addressed, including setting up your security measures, defining users who will have access to the application, and conducting user training.
  • Success – As experience has shown, this stage isn’t always an immediate success. Look at this last implementation phase as the time for smoothing out the rough corners and fixing any issues that might come up.

For additional details regarding the steps above, get Silvon’s complete guide
to successfully onboarding a business intelligence and reporting solution.

Monitoring & Support Both During & Following the Onboarding Program

While your team becomes acquainted with using the software and after the onboarding program has come to an end, it’s important to provide ongoing monitoring and support of the reporting application to ensure that users embrace it with good momentum and that it continues to meet your defined scope as your business evolves.

The vendor’s support team and automated support platform should be the leading point of contact for help, questions and issues all the while – supported by the vendor onboarding team, client services group and customer success manager. Be sure to ask your vendor, too, about regular communications programs they may have to help you, such as weekly status meetings, quarterly executive reviews to learn about new features, new release notifications, and educational newsletters.

Once the onboarding is over, see if your vendor provides a methodology for helping you make changes to your onboarded data and other files – even to help you add new data if there are gaps you need to fill.

In Summary

A well-managed onboarding initiative can eliminate so many of the gotcha’s typically experienced by companies as they bring a new reporting solution on board. By using an iterative approach, you’ll be prepared to handle new features, the addition of new users and the handling of new data from both current and new sources with ease. Plus, having a vendor that not only understands your industry, but the business software you use and the unique features of the vendor’s own reporting solution, can help guide you swiftly and effectively versus leaving the entire onus of onboarding on you.


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