Use of business intelligence

In the age of digitalisation and constant change, it is crucial for companies to plan, implement and monitor their projects efficiently. In this dynamic business world, companies can no longer rely on gut feeling and intuition alone. Instead, data-driven insights and decisions are the key to success. This is where Business Intelligence (BI) comes in.
Abstract business data interface with graphs and world map on a multi-layered background.


Introduction to Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence aims to make decisions based on collected data in order to uncover problems, increase profits and performance and optimise processes, among other things. 
BI therefore refers to processes and tools used to collect, sort, consolidate and analyse various historical and current business data from different sources. This generates actionable insights in the form of reports, dashboards, graphics, etc. These can then be used to make informed decisions on how to proceed with certain aspects of the project. 
However, it is important to emphasise that BI only uses information that relates to the past and present. Although the data is made available, the decisions ultimately have to be made by you on the basis of this data.
The term Business Analytics is often used in this context. In contrast, Business Analytics is concerned with analysing data more precisely in order to gain deeper insights into the data and make a statement about the probability of an outcome occurring. Nevertheless, Business Intelligence also has some advantages that can be utilised for the project.

Relevance of Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) provides valuable insights that support sound decision-making. In contrast to intuitive decision-making, i.e. gut feeling, BI-supported decisions are based on data analysis, which allows strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities to be identified, which contributes significantly to increasing the success of the project. 
An important point in this context is the competitiveness of a project. Only if this is high will it be accepted by the market and be successful. BI can help here by recognizing trends, supply and demand and thus creating opportunities for project success. In addition, comparing the actual state with the target state enables the project to be optimised in order to keep it competitive, e.g. through efficient resource allocation. These adjustments can not only protect the project from potential risks, but also help to avoid financial losses such as unexpected costs or budget overruns. With the help of BI-supported key figures, it is possible to recognize at an early stage where action is needed, which enables targeted problem solving. A practical example is a company with several branches which, thanks to BI, can recognize where certain products are missing, allowing them to be efficiently redistributed between locations.

Implementation of Business Intelligence

Due to the amount of data required in this process, the creation is usually carried out by IT. In this way, a large amount of information can be generated to support the project. However, as there are now also self-service BI tools that are intuitive to use, people without programming skills can also participate in the process and be supported in the decision-making process. Centralising all information in one place also ensures that the required data is easy to find - a decisive advantage, especially when several departments are involved in a project.
The process begins with the collection of data from a variety of sources, both historical and current, which is then imported into a data warehouse or other storage location. This data needs to be organised into a structured form to ensure correct indexing and archiving. The data records are then organised and analysed to identify patterns and possible irregularities. Based on these analyses, dashboards and reports are created that serve as the basis for further planning. Specialised tools are available for each of these steps, making it easier to access and analyse the information and thus further increasing user-friendliness.

Core components of Business Intelligence

By and large, these tools all ensure that data is prepared, synchronised, edited, processed, etc. in the background or they support the user in interpreting the results in order to make decisions.
BI reporting

This involves the presentation of data and findings through the creation of reports with summaries and visual elements. There are different types of reports:
  • A standardised report contains groups of data, i.e. elements that complement each other. They are produced regularly to provide all the necessary information at a specific point in time, e.g. after a milestone has been reached.
  • An ad hoc report is used for the quick output of data required in urgent situations, i.e. these reports are only created when there is a need for information.


It is possible to ask questions and get answers through intuitive interfaces by sorting through data to find what you are looking for. In this way, answers can be determined without programming knowledge and more information about performance can be obtained.

BI dashboards

Dashboards are used to display key figures in the form of charts, graphs or tables, making the data easier to understand. Anyone can use and share this visually prepared data for analysis. The result is a bird's eye view of the company's overall performance. The focus is on information density, and trends, patterns, etc. can be identified.

Problems with Business Intelligence

As with all processes, there are a number of things to be aware of when using BI. First and foremost, it is important to be aware that the data used to perform the analysis may be incorrect, leading to incorrect conclusions. Although the analysis speeds up the decision-making process, it takes time to become familiar with the technique. With so many things to consider, it can take some time to integrate the process. However, this also depends heavily on the type of BI a company chooses. Either only a few people in the IT department need to be trained, or individual teams need to be trained on the application. This also depends heavily on the structure of the organisation. If there are a large number of employees, it may make sense to leave it to the IT department, whereas in small companies there may not be the resources for additional staff, so existing employees will need to be trained.
Before purchasing a tool, you should also consider exactly what functionality you need, as there is a cost associated with the purchase. It is therefore important to think carefully about what you need.


With modern BI tools, data can be queried, dashboards created and visualised in order to find and share results at a glance. As data retrieval and the creation of reports and visualisations are now automated, the process is much faster, even if extensive training is required. Nevertheless, Business Intelligence can help to make the right decisions for a project and thus increase its success.

Business Intelligence - the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, business intelligence

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