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BI Reporting: A Step By Step Guide for 2024

January 23, 2024

Mile Zivkovic

BI reporting can help you make data-driven decisions around your business more easily. But what exactly is it and how does it work? Let’s find out.

They say that time is money but in today’s world, saying that data is money is equally correct. With the right data in your hands, you can make better business decisions and increase profitability. One of the top ways to do that is BI reporting.

The world of BI is notorious for being overly complex for the average business user. But today, we’re going to show you how anyone can use BI reporting to make smarter business decisions, as well as how you can create a simple BI reporting dashboard.

What is business intelligence reporting?

Business intelligence reporting is the process of collecting, analyzing and visualizing data in order to help key business stakeholders make more data-driven business decisions. BI reporting involves using multiple tools that help go from raw data to valuable business insights.

The typical BI reporting involves:

  • Data collection
  • Data transformation
  • Data analysis
  • Report/dashboard creation
  • Sharing the report/dashboard
  • Monitoring and iterating on the process

Benefits of BI reporting

There are many ways BI reporting can help any business out there, but two of them stand out as the most common ones.

First, BI reporting helps you explore data without requiring any knowledge of data science. Once you have the data ready, you can use the data visualization function and turn it into a visually understandable dashboard. At this point, anyone with the right business skills can interpret these dashboards and use the data to make the right moves in their business.

This brings us to the second point - better decision-making. BI reporting empowers managers, CEOs and everyone including individual contributors to make decisions based on more than gut feeling. Take a look at historical data to get actionable insights and make forecasts about the future.

Types of BI reporting

BI reporting is an umbrella term that covers different ways of visualizing and analyzing data. These are the most common types of BI reporting tools and activities.

Self-service BI

These are data analysis tools where the user can drag and drop elements to get the kind of output they need. They can change date ranges, types of graphs and tables, pick and choose table elements and more.

KPI reporting dashboards

These are dashboards with a specific purpose in mind. They typically have a pre-defined number of KPIs based on the topic. For example, a financial KPI reporting dashboard for a SaaS app will have churn rates, MRR, ARR, CAGR, CAC:LTV and other metrics.

Embedded BI

These are dashboards embedded in SaaS products. For example, an e-commerce platform that has a dashboard functionality, allowing store owners to manage their inventory and track key sales metrics in one place.

Predictive analytics

Dashboards and reports that take into account historical data and use it to make forecasts for future periods.

Real-time data monitoring

Dashboards and BI tools for monitoring crucial metrics from processes happening in real-time. Examples include error logging, building or energy waste monitoring,and monitoring production lines or manufacturing machines.

How to build a BI reporting dashboard with Luzmo

If you’ve decided to say goodbye to spreadsheets and embrace the future of data analytics and visualization, we have some great news. With Luzmo, anyone without data science skills can create a BI reporting dashboard. And with a decent developer, you can embed them in any web environment and share data insights with product users quickly. Let’s walk you through an example of how to create one so you too can make more informed decisions about your business.

We’re going to show you all the steps to create a sales pipeline dashboard that looks like this:

sales pipeline dashboard

Set out business requirements

The first question to answer is: who are the business users and decision-makers who are going to be viewing this dashboard? This determines the type and granularity of data you show, as well as the order it is presented in.

In our case, the audience is sales managers.

Second, determine the goal of the dashboard. What should the person reading achieve once they are faced with this data?

For this example, the sales manager will be monitoring sales performance, so they can better forecast business performance for their company.

Last but not least, determine the key metrics that help you achieve those goals for that target audience. In this case, the metrics will be deal value, number of deals, close rate, performance per employee, value per funnel stage.

Prepare your data for analysis

BI reporting tools can automate a lot of things, but they still need to know where the data for your dashboards comes from. Typically, user-friendly BI tools let you directly connect with your most important data sources in a few clicks.

The first part is to identify where your data sources come from. In our case, we’re going to use HubSpot as our CRM tool of choice for our sales pipeline dashboard.

Whichever your data source you use, the data you get is usually not ready to be used for business needs such as analysis and visualization. In that case, you can use ETL, ELT or data modelling tools like Fivetran or DBT to structure your data in the right format. 

In our specific example, apps such as Fivetran extract data from Hubspot and create data tables that business intelligence reporting tools can use immediately. Typically, these tools just extract data and don’t store it,which you can do in an online data warehouse such as BigQuery, PostgreSQL or Snowflake. 

With this technical step out of the way, you can move on to the more fun tasks.

Connect the data to your business intelligence tool

Depending on the BI tool you use, this step can be more or less complicated. Enterprise-level tools such as Microsoft’s PowerBI or Tableau are a bit more complex in this regard. With Luzmo, this step is a piece of cake.

With Luzmo, you can connect to:

Basically, all major databases and data warehouses are covered.

To add a new dataset in Luzmo, simply go to Datasets in the left-hand side of your dashboard and choose your data source. You’ll then see the credentials modal, where you can fill in the necessary values for a PostgreSQL database. For more details, this video is a good starting point.

datasets in Luzmo

Visualize your data

Visualization means turning data points into graphics that stakeholders can understand. We offer a large selection of visualization types in Luzmo, so choose the one that best suits your needs and drop it onto the canvas.

For our sales dashboard, we’re going to build a common visualization called a stacked bar chart.     

stacked bar chart visualization in Luzmo

     

At this point, you should drag and drop the data you want to visualize onto the chart.

finished visualization in Luzmo

 You can now continue the exact same process for each metric or chart you’d like to visualize in Luzmo.    

Optimize your dashboard following best practices in dashboard design

You probably won’t get everything right on your first try, but don’t worry. Good BI tools let you change things on the go and edit and adjust dashboards according to the needs of your end-users.

If you don’t know where to start, our guide on dashboard design is a great way to learn the basics of dashboard optimization. 

Pro tip: if you want to save time, using Luzmo’s templates can give you inspiration and food for thought about what metrics (not) to include.    

Luzmo dashboard templates

Share your dashboard

Your dashboard is done and you’re ready to show everyone in your team what a major step-up from Excel you’ve made. In Luzmo, you can share your dashboard within your organization in just a few clicks:    

dashboard sharing in Luzmo

But if you have more than your internal team in mind, there are other ways of sharing. In Luzmo, you can embed dashboards into websites, portals or SaaS applications. This facilitates easy sharing with customers. For more info on embedding dashboards, this is a good read.

    

dashboard embedding in Luzmo

But of course, you don’t want to remind anyone to check your dashboard masterpiece all the time. In Luzmo, set up automated email reports that go out to key stakeholders at your desired intervals.    

automated dashboard sharing

And just like that, you created a BI reporting machine that helps key stakeholders make better business decisions.

Start BI reporting today

BI reporting is not a buzzword - it’s a case of empowering non-tech-savvy users to make more data-driven decisions. You no longer need large teams of data scientists, analysts and data management experts to create a simple but powerful BI dashboard.

With Luzmo, creating dashboards and interactive reports is a walk in the park. Our modern BI tool fits many use cases, from embedding dashboards in a SaaS app, website or web application. With our intuitive interface, it will take you mere days to create an embedded dashboard - not weeks or months.

Create your first BI report in Luzmo today - completely free.

Build your first embedded dashboard in less than 15 min

Experience the power of Luzmo. Talk to our product experts for a guided demo  or get your hands dirty with a free 10-day trial.

Dashboard