OLAP applications have, by most accounts, made their biggest impact in Finance Departments. Of course, financial analysts aren’t the only staff who can benefit from OLAP capabilities. There are applications that provide reports and analyses to sales and marketing staff too. But one important under-served community for OLAP solutions are managers who need to report, analyze and even plan based on employee time and other resource allocations.
In the case of measuring employee time and resources, employees rely on MS Outlook to schedule their time the same way Finance departments rely on Excel to get the reports they need. It’s basically second nature for people to schedule their time in their Outlook. So an optimal OLAP solution would include Outlook as well as a company’s accounting system, and it would provide for dynamic connectivity to Excel and other reporting front ends.
To fulfill the “online” promise of OLAP, such a system would provide the real-time intelligence to gauge the productivity of the sales team, or list the top projects that are still under budget, or are getting into trouble. In true OLAP-multidimensional fashion, there would be the opportunity to understand time and resource allocation by Project, Activity, Manager, Consultant, Billable, and Version (e.g., Actual vs. Budget). And for the financially inclined, P&Ls by Project, Team, or Employee.
The benefit for end-users would include a true fathoming of how they contribute to the business; for managers, the ability to monitor results in order to make the best-informed plans about allocating resources to the most profitable projects.
Time is Money, as the saying goes—and so, as far as OLAP applications go, there’s every reason in the world to benefit from an OLAP solution that can deliver live time and resource performance data. And after all, why should Finance professionals have all the fun?