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Aidis Stukas February 11, 2019

Odoo ERP and Business Intelligence: Data has an idea

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In this blogpost we will have a look at Odoo from Business Intelligence/Analytics perspective. We will have a look at what Odoo has to offer when it comes to various stages of Business Analytics: Descriptive Analytics, Predictive Analytics and Prescriptive Analytics.

The term Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision making. The terms Business Intelligence and Business Analytics are synonymous and are used interchangeably in this blogpost.

Let’s have a look at different stages of analytics as defined by Gartner (see the chart below).

Odoo image and text block

Descriptive analytics: What happened?

Descriptive analytics questions are the most natural and most frequently asked:

  • How much of product X did we sell last month?

  • How much time did it take to produce product Y on average?

  • How much value did the CRM team Z create?

Answers to these questions are mostly available in the backbone of Business Intelligence applications - Standard reports. These questions are often displayed in dashboards. If not available, these reports could be generated via self-service BI or by conducting ad-hoc reporting.

Overwhelming majority of Odoo applications has Standard reporting available, the list would include Sales, CRM, Point of Sale, Website, Purchase, Inventory, Manufacturing, Invoicing, Project and many others. Ad Hoc reporting and self-service BI is also available, at least to some extent: Odoo allows creation of Ad-hoc reports easily via Pivot view, which is available in most Odoo Apps.

Odoo image and text block

Pivot view enables creating your own reports according to particular needs. However, there are some limitations - not all data relations could be available. Therefore, in some cases you could need developer help. Overall, Odoo has very strong Descriptive analytics.

Predictive analytics: What will happen?

Ok, let's say we already know what happened, can view it from various perspectives, in different slices, what next? The next step in predicting possible futures:

  • How much of X we will sell?

  • Will client Y buy for product in next basket?

  • How much of stock will be left by July?

Predictive analytics looks at current and historical facts to estimate, forecast, predict the future, identify risks and opportunities. Information on how many products we will sell, will the client make a purchase enables better decision making.

Odoo image and text block

There is limited amount of predictive analytics. For example Odoo Subscriptions module allows to see forecasted annual MRR growth and forecasted annual contracts growth. There are few other Odoo Apps that allow similar level of predictive analytics.

Prescriptive analytics: What should we do?

The next step after predictive analytics is prescribing the actions:

  • How much of item X should we buy so we have enough stock for the next month?

  • Which product we should show as an alternative in our eshop?

  • From which warehouse should we ship the item?

Prescriptive analytics suggests decision options to take advantage of the results of descriptive and predictive analytics. Prescriptive analytics are used for two purposes: decision support and decision automation.

There are no Odoo apps that offers so called “final frontier” of business analytics. That is not surprising as prescriptive analytics is hard to do right. However, the future is bright, as most Odoo based systems have enough information and strong reporting basis, it has a strong potential for building both predictive and prescriptive solutions.

Conclusion: strong basis and plenty room for improvement

Odoo has a strong descriptive, scarce predictive and lacking prescriptive analytics. Odoo shines in standard reporting, it's pivot view offers create self-service and ad-hoc reporting capabilities, and graph view provides powerful abilities to visualise a any view. Some Odoo Apps offers basic and limited forecasting functionality. Prescriptive analytics, unfortunately, are nowhere to be found.

If we have a look at mostly used Applications we would come up with something like:

DescriptivePredictive
CRM++++
Sales++++
Inventory++++
Warehouse++++
Accounting++++
Manufacturing++++
Project
++++
Website++

To sum up, Odoo has very strong descriptive analytics that could be used building both predictive and prescriptive analytics. It is only question of when Odoo will build better predictive and prescriptive capabilities. But for now we could have a look at third party tools and other approaches that we could be used for leveraging data that is available in your Odoo solution. But let’s leave it for another blog post. If you like to hear more from us -  subscribe to our newsletter.

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