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I am compiling a selection of BI indicators for SME businesses in the retail/manufacturing sector and writing an article on the subject for an online analytics magazine.

I am trying to develop a BI service aimed at SME companies in India as this is practically a non-existent service currently.  Top corporates have their BI teams, but the cost of hiring a good analyst is still prohibitive for many SMEs.  There is also a tremendous communication work to be achieved as many SME leaders have a limited awareness of what is BI. The goal is provide affordable BI by concentrating on a key set of indicators than can easily be tweaked in an Excel template to meet the specifics of a company, reducing my effort time and therefore bottom-line cost.

I have so far compiled a list of 5 or 6 indicators that I feel make sense for an SME to keep track:

1. Deseasonalized sales analysis: use of normalised Centered Moving Average to track overall progression of sales. (, it also has the potential for simple predictive analysis.

2. Plotting cost lag loops (Cost vs Revenue) to monitor financial health of the company and better react when there is a downturn. (

3. Private Rate of Inflation (possibly more apt for manufacturing sector): this requires a little more effort initially to gather sources of data published by national bureau of  statistics and finding ways to auto update that info, but once the mechanism is in place should be relatively simple to set up an indicator that shows the inflation rate graph for materials on which an SME is dependent for its production.

4. Buying patterns (more for retailer) analysis of clients: look at the distribution of sales of items/total invoice.

5.  Profit indicator, which product has the highest margin in terms of cost of stocking/manufacturing but also time/effort requirement to maintain/make/stock this item.

If you have an insight into SME BI analytics, I'd love to have your feedback/experience, indicator suggestion.

Kind regards

Tags: BI, SME, analytics, indicator, manufacturing, retail

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