Since ClicData began, our interactions with companies of all sizes and users of all shapes have revealed some curiously common threads among dashboard and business intelligence use cases. So we thought it would make a lot of sense to publish an “FAQs” blog to get some answers and ideas out around BI and dashboard best practices.
Frequently Asked Questions on Dashboards & BI Tools
1. Do you have an on-premise version?
No, we’re 100% cloud based software (SaaS) solution… for a reason. This could be one of the most hotly debated issues in the free world (ok, well, among software vendors, anyway!). It really gets back to a fundamentally philosophical difference in running a business today. We purposely run a SaaS model for a number of key reasons:
- SaaS models offer a much lower cost of entry. Not only do you only pay for what you need, there are no exorbitant upfront implementation, customization or hardware costs. Instead of having to provision internal resources, a simple user interface and online application coupled with robust vendor APIs help you get up and running quickly and connect other systems to your dashboard tool with just a few clicks.With thousands of connectors to industry standard applications (think CRM, social media, marketing automation, HR systems, ERP,, accounting systems, etc.) you can be up and running KPI and dashboard reports in minutes versus hours, days or even months.
- Cloud offers access to ‘anytime, anywhere data.’ News alert: it’s 2018 and the world is on the move, and moving fast. Users need access to the right data at the right time, from anywhere. They don’t need ALL of your data ALL the time, they only need what they need. Besides, it’s costly and time consuming to store and provide all of your data, especially when only certain data is needed at various times.Cloud-based SaaS solutions give users on-demand access to precisely the data they need to make the best decisions and move the business forward faster.
- The SaaS vendor is responsible for uptime, upgrades and security. Check, check and check! It’s likely your core business is not what the cloud-based software provides, so why not let the experts focus on delivering the SaaS solution so you can focus on optimizing and improving your business? Sure, security is an ongoing concern, but again, it’s 2018 and cloud-based security solutions have also come a long way.While some IT people are concerned about security outside of the enterprise walls, it’s more likely the SaaS vendor has a much higher level of security than the enterprise itself would provide. Many cloud-based software providers have redundant instances in very secure data centers in multiple geographies. Their data is usually being automatically backed up as well, providing additional security and peace of mind.
- Higher adoption rates and faster time to ROI. Dashboard and business intelligence tools are useless unless your employees are actually using them. On-premise software solutions are often built for ‘power users’ like data scientists and analytics experts versus being built for the average business user in any department. Anytime access combined with high adoption rates give you a faster time to ROI on your investment via higher productivity and efficiency.
2. Do you connect to [insert application name here]?
A truly useful cloud-based dashboard tool should easily connect to mainstream applications across most of the mission-critical and functional systems used to run businesses today. That means APIs to thousands of applications that serve your company. While the individual applications obviously have a ton of value, that value is exponentially compounded when combined with the data and analytics across tools and departments.
If you’re not sure where to start or what that could mean to your business, don’t get sidetracked. Focus on the KPIs most important to each department, and those that roll-up to the mission-critical KPIs that drive the entire company. It’s likely there are a handful of metrics that all departments and systems track and drive at some level. Start there and work backwards, and be sure not to guess what each team is tracking. Better to take the time to interview them and map out the connection points that are going to impact your dashboard the most.
3. Can I run reports and dashboards for my clients?
Cloud-based SaaS dashboard and business intelligence tools mean you can securely manage multiple clients on a single account. There’s no heavy lifting when it comes to creating dashboards for different users inside or outside of the company, including your clients. As long as the right system(s) are connected, you have the flexibility to slice and dice the data however needed and seamlessly share reports.
Yes, it’s a beautiful thing!
4. Do you have templates?
Dashboard templates might sound appealing at the surface, we totally get it. Start with 3 to 5 common metrics, tweak a few things, and bam, you’re done.
What we’ve found consistently over the years, however, is that a template is really only of value to the guy who created it. Clients end up customizing templates to such a degree that they no longer even remotely resemble the original template. And in fact, starting with just a few KPIs and building from there typically leads to faster actionable reports than starting with pre-built template.
It’s your data and your business, why be boxed in by a template that can artificially skew what metrics you really need to track?
5. Is the tool HIPAA and/or HITECH compliant… even in the cloud?
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.
The scope of HIPAA was extended with the enactment of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Together, HIPAA and HITECH Act rules include:
- The HIPAA Privacy Rule, which focuses on the right of individuals to control the use of their personal information, and covers the confidentiality of PHI, limiting its use and disclosure.
- The HIPAA Security Rule, which sets the standards for administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect electronic PHI from unauthorized access, use, and disclosure. It also includes such organizational requirements as Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).
- The HITECH Breach Notification Final Rule, which requires giving notice to individuals and the government when a breach of unsecured PHI occurs.
HIPAA compliance is an extensive process of determining where the data is and how it is used and by whom among many other processes and procedures. Mostly it is about training of internal and external employees, subcontractors, partners and suppliers on privacy, security and standards.
While there is no official HIPAA compliance certification program, your SaaS provider should be able to help with your documentation by providing its privacy and security regulations which may be applicable to your individual HIPAA compliance record.
Specific to ClicData: our application and database are hosted by Microsoft in Microsoft Azure. Microsoft holds and is regularly certified in many types of privacy, safety and security programs including ISO27001, SOC1 and SOC2, among many others. For more information read about it here.
Graphical dashboards and business intelligence tools clearly demonstrate trends and opportunities evident from your data, and make them more actionable than ever before. If you’re looking for a new or replacement solution, check out ClicData BI solutions that are highly customizable, very robust in feature set, mobile friendly and very easy to use, even for non-power-users.
We’d love to hear more questions you have on dashboard and business intelligence tools, so post them here and we’ll add it to the FAQs list in future blogs.