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Of late, Business Intelligence (BI) has gained tremendous significance across the enterprises. It has the potential to shape an organization’s growth and productivity. BI is a technology driven process for analyzing data and presenting the reports, dashboards, etc. to the respective stakeholders, which assists in taking appropriate decisions to achieve organizational goals.
Enterprises often face difficulty in extracting the right information from the huge data packs available with them. While the Big Data Analytics helps in getting deeper and exploratory perspective of the sea of data available, Business Intelligence presents the data in a more structured and easily understandable way. BI systems richness in dashboard visualization, reporting, performance management metrics and more can be vital to making advanced analytics actionable.
Benefits of Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence is associated with several benefits, a few of which are listed below:
Improved Productivity: Traditional methods of gathering information, compiling data and generating reports requires lots of time, efforts, and dependability on several internal departments. By integrating BI applications, the data can be extracted and the reports or dashboards can be generated with just the click of a button, thus relieving employees to concentrate on more productive initiatives.
Accuracy: There is always a risk of inaccuracy due to manual intervention while tabulating and assessing data. The ease in information sharing helps reduce duplication of roles/duties within the organization and improves the accuracy and usefulness of data generated by different departments.
Customer Behaviour: BI helps in gaining insights to the customer behaviour. These insights can help the Organization position itself in accordance to the behavioural changes of the customer.
Gain Competitive Intelligence: BI can also be used to gain insights into what the competitors are doing. This strengthens the company’s ability to make decisions and plan for the future.
Decision Making: Unavailability of right information at right time is one of the major reasons for improper decisions that affect the Organization’s strategic initiatives. BI reports help in monitoring past and present performances, and assist in predicting the future thus enabling the Manager to take appropriate decisions.
Return on Investment (ROI): With the increased awareness towards market insights, faster reporting, decreased operating costs/lower overheads and access to better quality data and information, BI can positively influence a Company’s ROI.
While an Organisation can reap several benefits through Business Intelligence program, the integration of an application with the internal systems and quality assurance plays a key role in successful implementation. Testing these BI applications is crucial for any organization as the credibility of the reports generated is important. It requires several steps of testing for ensuring a proper functioning.
Key Testing Areas
Business Intelligence programs requires testing in the following four key areas:
1) Discovery or Knowledge Acquisition:
- Acquiring knowledge of the identified data resources
- Reviewing Data model, Data lineage and understand the Meta data
- Creating Functional Traceability document
- Reviewing Data Profiling Analysis reports
- Conducting Data Sampling and Analysis on the key data elements
2) Test Authoring and Execution:
- Creating test scripts that are repeatable and re-executable
- Preparing Data Summary reports and Comparison reports between Sources and Target
- Preparing separate test cases for historical (initial) loads and incremental (delta) loads
- Conducting Data Quality and ETL testing on all possible data sets
3) Test Data Management:
- Implementing customer’s data masking policy on sensitive data
- Configuring Test environments to mimic prod configuration for effective performance testing
- Preparing Test environments with larger data volumes and production quality data for accurate end to end testing
- Securing Data
4) Test Process Automation:
- Automating the validation processes as much as possible
- Building custom scripts (using SQLs/Unix scripts/VB/Java) for data validations
- Building automated scripts to compare pre and post migration of data sets
- Developing Reusable test cases for automating functional testing
While there are several Business Intelligence applications readily available in the market, it requires lots of process and methodology to be followed to choose the best fit for an organization. Involvement of the independent software testing companies from the procurement stage itself helps in an easy and effective implementation of the BI programs.