May 9, 2014

Board Management Intelligence Toolkit Review

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Board’s Management Intelligence Toolkit is a combination of business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM) software. Unlike some companies developing CPM and BI software, Board is a relative unknown. TechnologyAdvice’s expert review is designed to introduce this tool as an alternative to larger, better-known offerings from companies such as Oracle and SAP.

This review assumes readers have a working knowledge of Business Intelligence software and the functions it performs. To learn more about the basics of Business Intelligence, check out our Guide to Business Intelligence.

Board’s most recent version, 8.1, was released in 2013. In this release, Board introduced several new features that improved the toolkit’s functionality. First and foremost, Board now supports multiple languages, allowing multinational corporations to utilize the software across their operations. Board has also enhanced the session handling capabilities of its back-end, and increased the performance of cached information, which should help with large deployments. To the uninitiated, this means that Board will work harder, better, faster, and stronger.

Additionally, Board now offers mobile applications for iPad and Windows 8 devices, which provide access to reports and dashboards while out of the office. Unfortunately, Board’s mobile applications don’t yet allow write-back to the main installation, meaning that data can be accessed on the go, but cannot be input. Also, some more advanced reporting capabilities are not yet supported on mobile. According to a Board representative, full reporting and write-back capabilities will be added in an update to be released in Q2 or Q3 of 2014. Of course, Board is ahead of some of its competition by offering a mobile app at all.

Besides the new features, the most attractive aspect of the Board Management Intelligence Toolkit is its intuitive design. Using a drag-and-drop interface, any user can create custom reports, dashboards, and applications without any programming knowledge. If a user understands how to work with formulas and functions in Microsoft Excel, he or she can build a data analysis application using the Board toolkit. In fact, the spreadsheets within Board are in some ways better than Excel, as they allow for cells to contain both values and formulas.

Before making a purchasing decision, there are a few constraints to consider:

  • Even though Board Mobile has an iOS app, the on-premise installation is only Windows compatible at present. Macintosh workplaces would need to choose a cloud delivery, but according to a Gartner report, Board has “minimal experience supporting this type of offering.”
  • Board does not offer a free trial period for their software, but they do offer a hosted webinar so that interested parties may demo the interface and capabilities.
  • Board Management Intelligence Toolkit’s pricing is per-user per-year, and can vary from $1000 to $3000, depending upon total number of users. It’s not an insignificant investment, but since Board is both a CPM and BI tool, it is less expensive than buying two separate programs. Additionally, the annual maintenance fee is 20 percent of the initial implementation cost. There is also an additional fee for server usage.
  • Board is not designed to solely do large-scale statistical and data analysis. Researchers crunching thousands of disparate, unstructured data sources should probably look elsewhere.
  • Board International’s presence is mainly in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. They do, however, have offices in 15 countries, including the US and UK. Also of note, only the licensed user may contact Board for technical support issues.

In short, Board Management Intelligence Toolkit is a good alternative to some of the more well-known BI and CPM tools. It is a powerful, intuitive program, that can suit any deployment size. It has been successfully implemented at many large companies across a variety of industries. Notable Board users include Puma, Best Western Hotels, retailer Charlotte Russe, Mitsubishi Electric, the United States Navy, and many others.

Anyone considering a BI installation, and especially those who don’t already have a CPM solution, should consider Board Management Intelligence Toolkit.