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Garry Ray

Check Your Company Health

A host of programs promise to analyze and improve your business. None, however, take the unique approach of Business Insight from Business Resource Software, Inc. The program weights hundreds of numeric and non numeric factors that enter into any business venture, including "hard" data such as sales projections and "soft" data such as buyer perception, management quality, and product life cycle. From a broader perspective, the program can suggest the best approach to starting a company or analyze product development issues within a large organization. Even though your business may not be in trouble, Business Insight can provide new insights into its structure and health.

Entering data is simple. The program walks you through an extensive series of questions, such as a product price, the company revenue objectives and promotional strategy, and the required return on investment. The revenue-objectives question, for example, requires a first-year estimate of company product revenues. Another group of queries focuses on the various stages of a product life cycle. Not every question has to be answered, but the more information the program has to work with, the better the final analysis will be. Once this data-entry phase is complete, Business Insight analyzes the case using its internal rules.

Business Insight produces a series of reports in outline format that describe the business strengths and weaknesses. Each section provides a different "view" of the business you have described to the system.

The Observations sections analyzes the data and describes what the company can do to improve its situation. This section also flags conflicting responses: For example, you can not skim short term profits while pursuing long-term growth.

The Highlights and Lowlights sections show the 10 major strengths and the 10 major weaknesses of the business, lists from highest to lowest priority. Business Insight uses "assertion ratings" to determine these strengths and weaknesses. For example, the assertion rating for the cultural-trends factor measures the extent to which cultural trends support of undermine the acceptance of a product. A high assertion rating (say, 80 on a scale of 1 to 100) indicates that cultural trends support the product; an assertion rating of 20 means that cultural trends do not support the product. These ratings are computed from the answers to the original set of questions.

The Charts and Ratios section offers a mixture of financial charts, business ratios, and competitive comparisons. The program also considers planned versus suggested actions, suggesting appropriate actions using the information provided. Finally, the Key Factors section shows the factors that influence product success, taking into account the business environment, the product, the competition, and the cost to enter the market.

A Business Insight analysis consists of more than 200 factors. You can get a lot of different analysis of your data simply by changing a variable. For example, you can trace the observation that your company has limited management strength, note the marketing manager may have a low degree of suitability for the position (a factor you entered during the initial analysis), and change your assessment (which of course requires a change in the marketing manager.) You can then have Business Insight reanalyze the data to see what effect the change might have on marketing strategy.

Many of the questions in Business Insight call for numeric data - for example, five-year revenue forecasts. In such cases, the program provides an internal spreadsheet that you can access directly from the question panel. You can develop a spreadsheet by using many of the same keystrokes and functions found in 1-2-3.... Its comprehensive analysis technique, impressive presentation style, and sheer usefulness make it a program without rivals.


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