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This is an IFS 2015 liveblog which means everything was written at-the-moment.

In one of the week’s most accomplished presentations, Hecla Mining IT Director Alan MacPhee showed Room 202 at the Hynes Convention Center why Business Analytics (BA) is the “sharpest, keenest, coolest program of them all.”

Hecla, who have mines in Quebec, Alaska and Idaho, use this part of IFS Applications to streamline their spreadsheeting — and MacPhee loves it.

“I like frameworks, I like statistics,” he explains with excited lucidity.

To use BA effectively, you must pass the Campbell test for reporting efficiency, MacPhee said. That means Excel skills, discretionary time and available information sources. If a company is found wanting in these areas, then it might struggle to embed BA.

So, presuming your company is completely Campbell, here’s MacPhee’s guide to BA:

It opens just as though it were Excel, but the “real easy to use” BA design grid jumps out as an addition. This grid allows you to carry folders which themselves hold subcategories – called dimensions – that you can customise.

“Once you get used to the language, it’s all pretty familiar.”

You can alter and set parameters for dimensions as big as files to as small as cells, though MacPhee says don’t go granular unless you have to.

Now, when you’re using it right it gives account executives more time for analysis and often makes that analysis far easier to conduct. At Hecla, for instance, the financial reports are composed and processed in, like, 5 minutes.

Top tips for Business Analytics

  1. Get the IFS training. I could (and probably should) have.
  2. Create company standards for methods and aesthetics
  3. Keep filters at the highest level as possible. Basically, try to avoid being super specific; it just complicates things.
  4. Don’t fail the Campbell test!
  5. Don’t enter things like dates manually, use the create run-time parameters.
  6. Save Save Save. Frequently create rollback versions.
  7. Give meaningful names to row and column designs; it makes it easier to debug (plus it looks nicer).

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