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The Dashboard Effect


Conversations on data analytics, business intelligence, and data driven practices for private equity and the midmarket


Hosted by Blue Margin CEO Brick Thompson

Over 14,000 downloads and counting!

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#105: Embracing Change: Use an Iterative Approach to Keep Your BI Relevant

(This week’s episode is a rerelease from earlier this year, and it’s just as relevant now as it was then.) Brick and Caleb highlight how constant evolution in the BI process is key to a data initiative’s success. They emphasize the need for flexibility and incorporating user feedback for continuous improvement. They discuss the inevitability of business evolution and how BI reports must be updated to meet those evolving needs. Listen to learn why an iterative approach isn't just beneficial—it's essential for keeping up with the dynamic nature of business data and decision-making. 

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#104: How to Measure Success and Demonstrate ROI of Data Projects

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss how to demonstrate the value and return on investment (ROI) of data initiatives. They explore practical ways to quantify ROI, from automating manual effort to improving decision-making processes. Brick and Caleb also share real-world examples including the impact of increasing employee utilization on a company's bottom line.  

They discuss the importance of measuring performance before and after the implementation of data projects, the potential pitfalls of "over reporting", and the power of simplicity in data analytics.  

How to measure success


#103: Bridging Data and Leadership: Advice on Bold Execution for Midmarket CEOs

Jon Thompson hosts Karen Posey of KP Strategies to unpack the unique challenges and opportunities CEOs face in the realm of strategic planning and execution. Karen shares insights from her extensive experience leading companies and advising CEOs on the best-practices for building strategic plans that are aligned to yearly operations and budgets, and the importance of organizational alignment for successful leadership, healthy culture, and business growth.

“Over 65% of CEOs don't have the confidence [or the insight] they need to make bold moves.” -  Karen Posey

Read the interview highlights here: Bridging Data and Leadership: Advice on Bold Execution for Midmarket CEOs 

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#102: Data Security in Microsoft Azure: Understanding Role-Level and Row-Level Security

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the intricacies of role-level and row-level security in the context of data lakes. They explain the differences between the two and how each works within the Microsoft Azure environment. The conversation also touches on the importance of understanding who has access to what data, the flexibility of row-level security in Power BI, and the challenges of managing access in the data lake.

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#101: Unlock Market Potential: B2B Mid-Market Growth Strategies with BlueByrd

Kate Eberle, Director of Consulting at Blue Margin, discusses mid-market growth challenges with Richard Byrd, Fractional CMO and President of BlueByrd Strategic Sales and Marketing. Their conversation highlights the shift in private equity towards organic growth and the importance of foundational marketing strategies, expanding outreach, and leveraging AI tools. Listen in for BlueByrd's strategic marketing execution process and Richard's insights into overcoming marketing challenges in the mid-market landscape.

"We start by understanding both the long-term and short-term strategy for that company. We conduct an audit of what has and has not worked historically. Then we build a playbook to help the company understand and communicate their differentiation and budget for their initiatives to increase market share."  - Richard Byrd 

Read the Interview Highlights Here: Unlock Market Potential: B2B Mid-Market Growth Strategies with BlueByrd

Unlocking Market Potential Mid-Market Sales and Marketing (1)



#100: 7 Strategies for Effectively Managing Data Teams

In this milestone 100th episode of The Dashboard Effect, Brick and Caleb discuss the challenges and best practices around managing data talent. From hiring and retention to continuous learning and meaningful work, they share insights from years of experience. Tune in for strategies on keeping your data talent engaged and contributing to your company’s goals.

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#99: Data Lakes - The Solution to Siloed Data

In this episode of the Dashboard Effect Podcast, Brick Thompson and Caleb Ochs discuss the concept of data silos, exploring their implications and the challenges they present in today's data landscape. They touch on the evolution of data storage, from traditional data warehouses to the more modern and efficient data lakes and lakehouses. As businesses continue to generate vast amounts of data, the need to break down silos and integrate data sources becomes paramount. This episode emphasizes the importance of consolidating data, ensuring security, and the tools that evolved to no longer be prohibitive.

Data Lakes - The Solution to Siloed Data


#98: The Reality of Generative AI in Analytics: Hype vs. Progress

Brick and Caleb revisit the world of generative AI in analytics. They revisit their experience with Microsoft's Power BI Copilot and discuss the current state of AI in generating SQL queries, dashboards, and even predictive analytics with machine learning. Tune in to get their take on the hype vs. reality of AI within data analytics (and other applications like video, voice, biomedical, etc.) and what to watch for in the near future!

generative AI


#97: How to Avoid the "Treadmill" and Build Your Data Team Continuity

"Let's say you hire two people, and they build a bunch of stuff. And then they decide to quit or find a better job, and then all of that knowledge goes with them. You have to have continuity. Otherwise, you're just on a treadmill." - Caleb Ochs

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the evolving challenges companies face in building and maintaining a data analytics team. They emphasize the importance of continuity and skill diversity, particularly in middle-market companies, and delve into why many businesses are increasingly looking to outsource these specialized skillsets. The conversation reveals the gaps that can form when companies rely solely on internal teams and makes the case for partnering with a fraction data team which offers both expertise and continuity in data strategy.

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#96: Implement Results, Not Just Software Solutions

Explore the distinction between implementing software solutions and actually driving business results. Brick and Caleb discuss the limitations of canned reporting in various systems like CRM, ERP, and fleet management software, emphasizing the need for a consolidated data environment, or a "data lakehouse," to truly unlock the power of your data. Whether you're a Private Equity Operating Partner or a C-Suite executive, you'll gain valuable insights into maximizing the ROI on your software investments and preparing your data infrastructure for the future of AI and machine learning.

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#95: Overcoming "BI Paralysis" - The Killer of Business Intelligence Initiatives

Brick and Caleb discuss the phenomenon of "BI Paralysis," a common roadblock that hinders companies from fully implementing their Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives. They discuss the pitfalls of striving for perfection in BI reporting, emphasizing the importance of iterative development and stakeholder education. The episode is a must-listen for executives looking to optimize their data strategy and avoid the paralysis that comes from overthinking BI projects.

BI Paralysis


#94: Fast-Tracking Data Integration with Data Lakes

Brick and Caleb delve into the speed-to-insight benefits of data lakes over traditional data warehouses. They discuss how advances in technology have drastically reduced the time required to build data pipelines, making it easier for mid-market companies, especially those backed by private equity, to integrate and analyze data from multiple sources. Tune in to learn how you can leverage these innovations to make data-driven decisions faster, even if you're in the midst of a buy-and-build strategy.

Fast-Tracking Data Integration with Data Lakes


#93: Not Quite 'Big Data': A Middle Market-Sized Approach to Data Management

Brick and Caleb discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of implementing data and analytics in the mid-market sector. Drawing on their experience from 1000+ projects, they discuss why traditional big data approaches don't fit the mid-market and offer actionable insights on cost-effective, ongoing data management. This episode provides valuable perspectives on optimizing your data strategy without having to build an in-house team.

Middle market approach to data management


#92: Azure's New Threads: An Overview of Microsoft Fabric

Brick and Caleb orient us to Microsoft's new data platform, Fabric, which was launched into public preview earlier this year. They discuss its key components, including its relationship with Data Engineering, Data Factory, Data Science, and Power BI. Additionally, they explore the future implications of integrating AI into data management.

Microsoft Fabric


#91: Moving from Data Constraint to Data Maturity

Brick and Caleb, discuss the road to data maturity within companies. They outline the three stages of data maturity - data constrained, data aware, and data driven - and provide practical guidance on recognizing where your company stands and when/how to advance. They also share data maturity's impact on business efficiency, decision-making, and competitiveness.

Data constraint to Data maturity


#90: Power BI: So Much More Than a Visual Analytics Tool

In this episode of the Dashboard Effect Podcast, Brick and Caleb delve into the intricacies of Power BI, a powerful visual analytics tool. They discuss the two primary components of Power BI: the Desktop version and the Service version, and how they interact with each other. They also touch on the concept of Power BI Embedded, which allows Power BI reports to be surfaced in applications. They then explain the role of Power BI data gateway in maintaining a secure connection between local databases and the cloud-based Power BI service, and the use of Power BI report server for those who prefer to keep their reports within their network.

Power BI


#89: Expert Insights Series - SimonMed: How Data Insight Improves Performance for PE-Backed Healthcare Companies

In this episode of the Expert Insights Series, Blue Margin Director of Consulting, Kate Eberle, hosts Pedro Renteria, the VP of Financial Planning and Analysis at SimonMed. Pedro works closely with operations and leans on business intelligence (BI) and analytics to drive company performance.

“Good data creates comfort for voicing opinions. It powers strong culture and engagement, because people have tools available to be resourceful and determine if something is wrong. That is very empowering for an organization.” – Pedro Renteria, VP of FP&A, SimonMed

Read the highlights here: How Data Insight Improves Performance for PE-Backed Healthcare



#88: Using Power BI to Deal with Bad Data

Brick and Caleb discuss the different degrees of 'bad data' and its implications on business processes and decision-making. Using real-world examples, they share an approach to identify and address issues of data quality. They highlight the role of tools like Power BI (which is more than just a reporting tool) in identifying, cleaning, and maintaining data quality, ultimately leading to better business outcomes.

Address Bad Data with Power BI


#87: How to Unlock Value from Your Source System Data

Brick and Caleb delve into the reasons why businesses might want to access and analyze data from systems like CRMs or ERPs, going beyond the system's built-in reporting capabilities. Listeners will learn about the types of data that can be extracted, how it can be used to provide valuable business insights, and the various methods to access this data, including APIs. This episode is for anyone looking to leverage their source system data for more efficient reporting and broader data access.

Unlocking Value from Source System Data


#86: Database 101: Breaking Down the Basics

Brick and Caleb lay out the fundamentals of databases. They provide a clear understanding of how data is structured, stored, and related in a database, using relatable examples like Excel sheets. This discussion lays the groundwork for AI and advanced data technologies because a grasp of these basics empowers us to leverage more complex tools and concepts.

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#85: Is Microsoft Fabric Your New All-in-One Solution?

Brick and Caleb discuss the impact and implications of Microsoft's new data stack, Fabric. Can it completely replace the myriad of tools needed for data operations? How well will it integrate into a business workflow? Despite some concern about vendor lock-in, the hosts lean towards seeing Microsoft's comprehensive tool set as an advantage, particularly in terms of business productivity, cost savings, and ease of integration with other Microsoft applications.

MS Fabric


#84: Get Ready for Power BI Copilot

Brick and Caleb delve into the latest announcements from the Microsoft Build Conference, specifically focusing on Power BI and its upcoming Copilot feature. They share some of the capabilities of the Copilot's natural language querying and the potential impact on report building and data infrastructure, prompting the question: what role will data visualization experts play in the future?

Power BI Copilots will become generally available in ~6 months, and companies need to start preparing their data now to leverage these revolutionary tools.

As referenced in the episode, here is a link to watch the Microsoft Power BI Copilot demo: (4) Copilot in Power BI Demo - YouTube

Prepare for Power BI Copilot



#83: Demystifying Microsoft Fabric and OneLake

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss Microsoft's upcoming AI tools ("Copilots") and their new data management system, Microsoft Fabric, and how it fundamentally differs from its predecessor, Azure Synapse. They explain OneLake's innovative concept, where all data is centrally stored in Delta Parquet files. They also preview some pricing for the Fabric service and advice for those embarking on data projects ahead of its general release.

Microsoft Fabric & OneLake Demystified


#82: Expert Insights Series - Nestell & Associates: ERP Digital Transformation for Private Equity

In this episode of the Expert Insights Series, Blue Margin consultant Greg Brown hosts Jack Nestell, Managing Partner of Nestell & Associates.

“Private equity firms are focused on creating vibrant, healthy, sustaining organizations. And of course, one of the tools for that is IT and business information.” - Jack Nestell, Nestell & Associates 

  • 5:34 - Six Steps to Execute a Successful Digital Transformation Project
  • 12:38 - How to Assess Data and ERP Gaps During Diligence 
  • 17:30 - How to Prepare Employees for Organizational Change
  • 21:00 - How to Evaluate and Improve Change Success Factors

Read the highlights here: Nestell & Associates: ERP Digital Transformation for Private Equity

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#81: Expert Insights Series - How ParkerGale Capital Supports Portfolio Growth with a Sales Metrics Playbook

In this Expert Insights Series episode, Blue Margin co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Jon Thompson hosts Paul Stansik, Operating Partner at ParkerGale Capital. Paul works with management teams to drive organic growth through improved sales, marketing, and leadership effectiveness.

“When you think about opening up your part of a business or a team, and exposing the warts, flaws, mistakes, and things that are going wrong – that is a scary thing.”- Paul Stansik, Operating Partner

  • 8:33 - How to use vulnerability to build trust and improve team performance
  • 14:50 - How to improve portfolio companies with data-driven dialogue and a weekly Sales Metric Playbook
  • 28:48 - Why he chooses to show "Less Data, More Often" to portfolio executives

Read the highlights here: How ParkerGale Supports Portfolio Growth with a Sales Metrics Playbook

Paul Stansik


#80: The Complexities of Data Lake Management

Brick and Caleb outline the importance (and complexities) of actively managing a data lake to meet ever-changing business needs and user requirements.

Data Lake Management


#79: Three Pillars for Your BI System Framework

In this episode, Brick and Caleb outline the three pillars of a BI system framework: data lakes, data modeling, and data visualization.

3 Pillars for Your BI System Framework


#78: Expert Insights Series - CIO Insights on Data Monetization, Data Lakes, and AI

In this episode, Brick Thompson hosts CIO John Manzanares, a seasoned IT leader and a board member for PE-backed field services, construction, transportation, and logistics companies, as well as the Society for Information Management.

“What’s the foundation, if you’re doing anything around AI or ML in your organization today? Data. The foundation is data.” -CIO John Manzanares

  • 4:10 - How a PE-Backed Midmarket Commercial Services Company Monetized Their Data
  • 16:28 - How to Minimize Business Intelligence Project Delays

  • 24:30 - How Data Lakes are Key to the Buy-and-Build Strategy

  • 31:37 - How Microsoft’s 365 Copilot Will Likely Change Data Reporting

  • 38:57 - How to Wrangle ChatGPT in the Wild West Days of AI

Read the highlights here: CIO Insights on Data Monetization, Data Lakes, and AI

John Manzanares


#77: Expert Insights Series - Middle Market Methods' Value Creation Roadmap™ for Private Equity

In this episode, Blue Margin consultant Greg Brown interviews John A. Lanier, CEO of Middle Market Methods. John shares insights into his approach to value creation road-mapping as well as his strategies for identifying areas for operational improvements and addressing the misalignment that commonly occurs between PE sponsors and portfolio company executives. 

“The portfolio company’s leadership team must take ownership of its investment thesis and translate it into daily tactical execution. However, and ironically, they may not know that it even exists.” – John Lanier, Middle Market Methods 

  • 3:45 - Evaluating Opportunities for Improvement

  • 9:39 - Using the Socratic Method with Portfolio Executives

  • 11:46 - Addressing Misalignment Between PE Sponsors and Portfolio Executive Teams 

  • 18:50 - Cross-Functional Value Stream Mapping 

  • 27:42 - Discussing Tech and Data Diligence with the Entrepreneur-Executive

Read the highlights here: Middle Market Methods' Value Creation Roadmap™ for Private Equity

John Lanier


#76: AI: The Case for a Data Lake?

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the importance of preparing your data environment for the arrival of AI tools. They highlight the advantages of a data lake, a flexible repository for storing and integrating data, making it easier to analyze and report on. By having an established data lake, organizations can seamlessly leverage upcoming AI tools without having to scramble to access data in their transactional systems.

Prepare for AI with Data Lakes


#75: Prepare Your Data for ChatGPT

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss ChatGPT - its current capabilities, shortcomings, and anticipated impact on BI. They offer some advice about preparing your company data to leverage these advancing technologies.

Data and ChatGPT


#74 - Why Build a Data Lake in the First 100 Days

In this episode, Kate Eberle and Brick discuss the benefits of using a data lake instead of a traditional data warehouse during the first 100 days of a company's acquisition by a private equity firm, citing its ability to speed up insights, offer a consolidated view of data from different add-ons, and act as a sandbox for determining operational key performance indicators (KPIs). Data lakes can provide fast, updated information, enable better natural language querying, and allow companies to quickly adapt to evolving business needs, making them a both a foundational and scalable solution.

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#73: Building Strategic BI Reports: Key Questions for Stakeholders

In this episode, Brick and Will, Solutions Architect at Blue Margin, discuss the four areas of questioning he uses when interviewing SMEs or stakeholders for building a report. It's important to understand the context first before choosing the right metrics and slicers to ensure that the report is actionable and meets stakeholders' needs.

Strategic BI Reports


#72: Expert Insights Series - Weave Growth Partners on Private Equity's Late Adoption of Data-Driven Practices

In today’s podcast, Blue Margin consultant Greg Brown hosts Vishy Venugopalan, Managing Partner of Weave Growth Partners. Vishy brings the Silicon Valley playbook to lower midmarket deals by melding his knowledge of tech startups, investing, and both descriptive and prescriptive analytics. The interview explores the ‘why’ behind private equity’s slower adoption of data driven practices, correlates a company’s data adoption practices to evolutionary biology, and discusses the human aspects of advancing data science.

“It is not an insignificant amount of leadership that needs to be exercised to lead the people to change their behavior over the long term and make it more data driven.” -Vishy Venugopalan, Managing Partner, Weave Growth Partners

  • 5:25 - Private Equity’s Slow Adoption of Data Driven Practices
  • 12:28 - Data’s Evolutionary Process
  • 22:50 - The Cultural, Human Elements of Data Change 

Read the highlights here:  Weave Growth Partners on Private Equity's Late Adoption of Data-Driven Practices.

Vishy Venugopalan


#71: KPIs for Midmarket Manufacturers

In this episode, Caleb and Kate discuss important KPIs for the manufacturing industry. While there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, they outline and provide insight on the leading and lagging KPIs that have helped our midmarket manufacturing clients improve sales operations, inventory management, labor and machine utilization, and cash flow.

#71 - Manufacturing KPIs


#70: Understanding the Data Source

In this episode, Brick and Caleb talk about the importance of making sure business users of BI understand the underlying data sources and their capabilities and limitations. It'll help maximize the value of your BI efforts.

Know the Data


#69: How Data Transparency Supports Our Team Culture and Performance

In this episode, Brick and Caleb share Blue Margin's journey of transitioning to a culture of data transparency and the widespread benefits of tracking and sharing individual metrics across the company.

Dashboard Implementation


#68: Making the Case for BI

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss how to get internal buy-in for BI by making a clear connection between your BI projects and the anticipated ROI.

Make your case for BI


#67: Value Creation with BI Through Human Centered Design, w/ Brian T. O'Neill

In this episode of Expert Insights Series, hosted by BI Consultant Greg Brown, we feature Brian T. O’Neill of the company Designing for Analytics. Brian shares his deep experience in how to create value from data projects and the impact of human-centered design on business outcomes.

“Business is people. You can’t get to business value if you don’t first go through user adoption. Business value will follow if you design something indispensable. If not, you’re a cost center. You’re just spending money.” - Brian T. O’Neill, Designing for Analytics

  • 2:15 - The importance of human-centered design in data solutions. 
  • 11:34 - How to think about UX during product design. 
  • 15:55 - Creating business value with user adoption.
  • 17:58 - Why data teams need a consultative approach.

Read the highlights here: Value Creation with BI Through Human Centered Design, w/ Brian T. O'Neill

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#66: Dealing with Untrustworthy Data

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss different causes of untrustworthy data, and how to expose and address it to avoid flawed decision-making and improve adoption of your BI efforts.

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#65: Becoming Data-Driven - Data Culture Misconceptions

In this episode, Brick and Caleb tackle some of the misconceptions around making your organization data-driven, and some of the steps you can take to do it successfully. 

Becoming Data-driven


#64: Expert Insights Series - BI Projects Drive Financial Transformation, a PMO Leader's Insights

This episode of Expert Insights Series, hosted by Jon Thompson, features Tracy Hockenberry Senior Program Manager at Eaton (85,000 employees worldwide) and former Director of Enterprise PMO at New Story Schools, an Audax portfolio company that worked with Blue Margin to focus the team on the critical value creation metrics. She offers perspective on the vital role that project management plays in BI development, and by extension, financial transformation.

“To lead any business initiative, start by thinking about your current state of data. Data intelligence is key to drive business decision-making and strategy." - Tracy Hockenberry

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are Tracy’s and do not necessarily represent those of Eaton or her previous employers.

Read the highlights here: BI Projects Drive Financial Transformation, Insights from a PMO Leader

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#63: Expect Iterations on Your BI Projects

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the likelihood and value of iterating your BI solutions. You should expect and embrace it.

One and Done


#62: Expert Insight Series - Data as a Powerful Change Agent with Anthony Algmin

In this Expert Insights interview, Greg Brown, BI Consultant for Blue Margin, hosts Anthony Algmin of Algmin Data Leadership, host of podcast Data Leadership Lessons, instructor at DATAVERSITY (, and author of Data Leadership: Stop Talking About Data and Start Making an Impact! 

Read the highlights here: Data: A Powerful Change Agent, with Anthony Algmin

Anthony Algmin Podcast


#61: Four Simple Ways to Improve BI Adoption

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss four simple things you can do to improve BI adoption in your company.

BI Adoption Tools


#60: Expert Insights Series - One Rock Capital: Top Line Growth Strategies

This episode of Expert Insights Series, hosted by Jon Thompson, features operating partner Brian Potts of One Rock Capital. During diligence, Brian assesses investment growth potential, and post-acquisition, he sets and executes portfolio companies’ sales and marketing strategies. He has 25 years of experience building and improving businesses; holding leadership positions in manufacturing at Cintas and Clarus, in media at The Nielsen Company, in consumer products at Blue Triton Brands, and in PE at GE Capital, Antares Capital, and The Riverside Company.

We start talking about our exit strategy on the day we acquire. Can an owner tell a story with their data? Are we happy with the story?” –Brian Potts

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are Brian's and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of One Rock Capital.

Read the highlights: One Rock Capital: Top Line Growth Strategies

How PE Can Add Value


#59: What Do You Need for Successful Self-Service BI?

Brick and Caleb discuss self-service BI, what it is, and some of the considerations for making it happen in your company.

Self Service with Power BI


#58: Expert Insights Series - Extract More Value from Your Power BI Data with Power ON

In this Expert Insights interview, Jon Thompson hosts Vice Presidents Eric Weiss and Mike Marotta of Power ON. Founded in 2015, Power ON has 50 employees across the globe, and over 20 Fortune 100 customers. The company’s toolset extends Microsoft Power BI features, enabling real-time write-back and collaboration for planning, variance analysis, forecasting, budgeting, and workflows. Where Power BI is traditionally a one-way street, ingesting and presenting data, Power ON provides a two-way street, enabling users to input data in Power BI which writes back to the data model.

“The disruptive aspect of (single screen reporting) is that it dramatically saves time by consolidating collection and reporting. It really has a huge impact on the velocity of decision making.” - Eric Weiss

Read the highlights: Power ON: Scenario Planning and Write-Back in Power BI

Write-Back with Power BI


#57: Expert Insight Series - How Trace3 Accelerated Their VCP with an OKR Dashboard

In this episode of our Expert Insights Series, Blue Margin's CSO, Jon Thompson, interviews Tania DiCostanzo, VP of IT, Strategic Initiatives and Data Analytics for Trace3, a $2bn IT and managed services company. Tania is at the forefront of using data visualizations to ignite business growth. Listen to her insights on the power of data and how to be successful as a "data mobilizer", an increasingly critical role in business.

“You really need to understand from the top – what do we need to be measuring?” - Tania DiCostanzo 

Read the highlights: Trace3's VP of IT: Accelerate Value Creation with a Company OKR Scorecard

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#56: ETL & Data Warehouse Architecture with David Dimmen

Brick and David Dimmen discuss a high-level overview of Blue Margin's approach to ETL and data warehouse architecture. Warning: This one is a bit on the technical side. We recommend viewing the YouTube version of this episode here, so you can see the diagrams David refers to during the discussion.

High-Grade ETL


#55: Expert Insight Series - Industrial Growth Partners: Using Data to Maximize Value and Performance Throughout the Investment Lifecycle

In today's podcast, Jon interviews John Parent of Industrial Growth Partners (IGP Equity) as part of our ongoing Expert Insight Series. John shares IGP's approach to working with their portfolio companies to maximize alpha.

If you can create and develop those systems, which is difficult to do in a short time period, but if you can do it, create that data visibility, you’re rewarded handsomely when it comes to exit. – John Parent

Read the highlights: Industrial Growth Partners: Leveraging Data Throughout the Investment Lifecycle

John Parent EIS


#54 - Expert Insight Series - Forbes’ “Grandfather of Gamification”: Data Creates a Culture of Growth

In this installment of our ongoing Expert Insight Series, Jon interviews Chuck Coonradt, 5x best-selling author, CEO, and Fortune 500 consultant. Chuck wrote The Game of Work which has been foundational in Blue Margin's philosophy on the importance of #datavisibility for job ownership and accountability. Listen to them discuss how gamifying work transforms the workplace through employee engagement and job ownership.

“Only when we successfully transform our measuring into something tangible, relevant, and meaningful do we allow management by measurement to really take off. That transformation is called scorekeeping” - Chuck Coonradt

Read the highlights: Forbes’ “Grandfather of Gamification”: Data Creates a Culture of Growth

The Grandfather


#53: Using BI to Optimize Your Hiring

In this episode, Brick and Greg Brown discuss some of the ways BI can be used to improve hiring processes and effectiveness. Having an applicant tracking system as a data source is not a prerequisite.

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.


#52: Expert Insight Series - BI Strategies for PE Portco Acceleration with Marty Moore of Tenex Capital Management

In today's podcast, Jon interviews Marty Moore of Tenex Capital Management (private equity) as part of our ongoing Expert Insight Series. They discuss private equity's use of advanced data analytics to improve portfolio company operations.

“Too many portfolio companies have not invested in tech for too many years and find themselves playing catch-up.” - Marty Moore

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Read the highlights: Tenex Capital: How Private Equity Uses Data to Improve Portfolio Operations


#51: BI Project Execution with Jennie Swenson

In this fourth episode of our series on BI project management, Brick and Jennie discuss the project execution phase. They touch on the main components of this phase, including project integration management, quality management, resource management, communication management, and risk management.

“In executing, we're drawing on processes from different areas. First, we're looking at project integration management. We're also looking at quality management, resource management, communications management and risk management. And there are processes and frameworks underneath each one of those to execute our projects well.” -Jennie Swenson

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.


#50: Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake - Which do you need?

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the differences between a data warehouse and a data lake and what each is best suited for. For mid-market companies, in many cases both could have an important role in an overall BI strategy and implementation.

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.

Related reading: Data Lake vs Data Warehouse


#49: Is Snowflake Your Data Warehouse Nirvana?

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the Snowflake data warehouse service. They describe what it is and some of the pros and cons to consider when deciding if it might be the right solution for you.

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.


#48: BI Project Initiation, with Anne Eisenach

In the third episode of our series on BI project management, Senior Project Manager Anne Eisenach rejoins Brick to discuss initiating a BI project. Initiating well minimizes project risk and maximizes outcome. The main ingredients are scoping and stakeholder alignment.

“Project initiation helps you be efficient in execution. It ensures that we have scope alignment, both internally and with the full team of project stakeholders at the outset of the project before we jump in and start developing heads down.” - Anne Eisenach

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.


#47: Expert Insight Series - Change Management with Dain Johnson of Rev 0

As part of our ongoing Expert Insight Series, Jon interviews Dain Johnson of Rev 0 Consulting. They discuss change management, especially as it relates to data initiatives.

Distributed decision making makes sure that the right people have the right info at the right time to make the right decisions. That is why I love dashboards and data analytics which get that information into the right hands.” - Dain Johnson

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.

Read the highlights: Change Management and the Power of Data for Distributed Decision Making


#46: Don't Drown in a Waterfall!

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss the risks of trying to design and build everything you think you might ever need in a data warehouse in one single project. A faster, less expensive, and higher success rate approach is to start with smaller, high-value scope to start with, and then add on to it over time as reporting needs present themselves. This is the classic "waterfall" versus "agile" problem.

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.

Related reading: Starting a BI Initiative? Choose Agile Over Waterfall


#45 - PM Series - Resource Planning, with Jennie Swenson

In the second episode of our series on BI project management, Brick interviews Jennie Swenson, Director of the PMO for Blue Margin, to discuss resource planning during a BI project. They discuss the factors to consider in initially assigning work to engineers, and the things that might cause the need for changes during project execution.

"Primarily, the goal of resource planning is to allow us to maximize profitability by ensuring we have the right resources on the right type of work and that we're going to be able to deliver on time for our clients.” - Jennie Swenson

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.


#44 - How to Fire Your BI Vendor

Brick and Caleb outline some of the challenges of BI self-sufficiency and their recommended approach for building an internal BI team

“If they want to be self-sufficient, we want to help them do that.” - Brick Thompson

Click here to watch this episode on our YouTube channel.


#43 - BI Project Scoping, with Anne Eisenach

In this first episode in a series on BI project management, Brick interviews Anne Eisenach, Senior Project Manager, to discuss the first critical steps in a BI project, strategic and tactical scoping. If you get this right, you set yourself up for a smooth BI project, delivering on the desired ROI and goals, and staying in sync with the key stakeholders.

“What's the outcome that the client is hoping to achieve? Not just the output. Having this conversation with our client, and then making sure that we can internally articulate that well, before we go any further, is really important.” - Anne Eisenach

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.


#42 - Expert Insight Series - Tecum Capital: How Private Equity Can Leverage Data Across Industrials for Higher Returns

In today's podcast, Jon interviews Sean Edmonson of Tecum Capital Partners (private equity) as part of our ongoing Expert Insight Series. They discuss the value of data, and the premium Tecum puts on having good BI to drive portfolio company success. They also discuss Tecum's approach to investing and what the current climate might mean for them and others in PE.

“If you don’t have any type of dashboarding or KPI system, it’s a major deduction on the value of your company.” - Sean Edmonson

Click here to view this episode on YouTube.

Read the highlights: Tecum Capital: Using Data for Higher Returns in Manufacturing, Services, and Distribution


#41 - How to Hire a Good BI Visualization Engineer

Brick and Caleb discuss considerations for when you're hiring a BI visualization engineer. It can be tricky to hire the right one, and they offer some tips on things to look (and look out) for.

Click here to watch this episode on YouTube.

Read more: What to Look for When Hiring a Power BI Consultant

Here are some of the tools we use to drive discussions and assess technical ability for potential visualization engineer hires:

#40 - Using BI to Find Alpha in Private Equity, with Greg Brown

Brick and Greg discuss how good BI can help private equity firms to find and generate alpha in their portfolio company investments.

Read more: How Private Equity Uses Data-Driven Insights to Generate Alpha


#39 - Azure Synapse Analytics - What the Heck is It?

Brick and Caleb discuss the Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics service. They cover the parts of it most likely to be used for doing good BI, and touch on why it's a good choice over patching together several unrelated tools.


#38 - You CAN Herd Cats - Get to Your Data Faster with a Lake(house)

Brick and Caleb discuss the challenge of consolidated reporting, especially from recent mergers or acquisitions, and how using a data lake can bring quick reporting and analysis wins. They also discuss how using a data lake can ease the process of merging subsidiaries onto a central ERP (or CRM, etc.) system.

Read more: Data Lake vs Data Warehouse


#37 - Time Intelligence, with Sarah Martinez

Brick and Sarah Martinez, one of Blue Margin's Lead Data Visualization Consultants, discuss time intelligence in BI. They talk about the importance of constructing and using a date dimension, and some of the tricks to create reports for different time periods (e.g., yesterday, month-to-date, user-defined time period, etc.) without having to write scores of different measure formulas.


#36 - Expert Insight Series - Notch Partners CEO: Leveraging Data and Curating a Large Pool of Executives for the Right Deal, at the Right Time

Jon Thompson hosts founder and CEO of Notch Partners, Andy Thompson, to discuss matching deals to executives (and vice versa) in the PE world. Notch Partners is a boutique executive talent consultancy retained by leading private equity firms such as Advent, Charlesbank, Warburg Pincus, and AEA. Notch Partners creates competitive advantage for PE firms by “cultivating high-impact relationships that result in superior returns for investors and transformative career opportunities for executives.” They source industry-specific CEO-level talent as well as executive-led investment theses. Founded in 2002, the firm maintains a network of 40,000 executives and works with later stage investors purchasing control positions in mature companies.

Read more: Notch Partners: Finding Executives for the Right Deal at the Right Time


#35 - The Brontosaurus and the Root of all (Business) Problems

In addition to Jon's theory of the Brontosaurus, Brick and Jon discuss their view that the root of all business problems is lack of clear visibility.

Read more: Data Visibility and the PE-backed Executive


#34 - The Age-Old BI Challenge, with Greg Brown

Brick and Greg Brown, one of Blue Margin's Business Intelligence Consultants, discuss the critical question in BI: How do you get the right information, to the right person, at the right time, in order to best drive good outcomes? Greg has a very early automated BI example from IBM in the 1950's, and also explains a more recent example of how McDonald's uses up-to-the-minute BI to reinforce brand loyalty.

"If you can get data on time to the right people, you can actually affect the outcome of the current period and inform tactical changes and changes to your strategy that will get you much quicker and positive results than waiting for a retrospective report.”

Read more: How to Get the Right Data, to the Right People, at the Right Time


#33 - BI Metrics for the Legal Industry, with Kate Eberle

Brick and Kate, Director of Consulting, discuss BI in the legal field. They've worked with several large law firms and point out some of the key considerations in terms of metrics and reporting.

"There are two key questions every firm that we've worked with has wanted to answer... The first, "What work have we accomplished in a set time period?" And the second, "Are we getting paid for that work in a timely way?” - Kate Eberle

Read more: How Leading Law Firms Track WIP, Client/Matter Performance, and DEI


#32 - Horse Before the Cart - Start with the Reporting Need

Brick and Caleb discuss the best practice of understanding likely reporting needs before architecting a data warehouse, versus just pulling all of the data into the data warehouse. It's OK to have all of the data pulled into a Persisted Staging area, or into a data lake, but overengineering the data warehouse and reporting views and cubes lengthens the time to get to reports and can result in rework.

Read more: 2 Essential Ingredients of Successful Data Projects


#31 - Why Not Use Automatic Connectors Every Time?

Brick and Caleb discuss low-code data connectors and when and why to use (or not use) them.


#30 - Expert Insight Series - Data Driven versus Non-Data Driven Companies, Interview with Andy Scott, PE CTO

Blue Margin Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Jon Thompson, hosts technology and operations leader, Andy Scott, to discuss the role of data in business. Andy has 35 years of experience across multiple industries and organizations holding positions that include Chief Technology Officer, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, VP of Digital Product Management, and Board Director. He is known for his track record of delivering growth and empowering leadership through digital transformation.

“The non-data driven company is running around in firefighter mode, while the data driven company can focus on growth and performance."

Read the highlights: Andy Scott, CTO, on Data Transformation at Hydromax USA


#29 - Top Shelf Business Intelligence, with Courtney Tewalt

Brick and Courtney, Blue Margin's Quality Systems Manager, discuss the things you should focus on to make sure you're delivering high-quality BI, both from the data side and from the visualization side.


#28 - Mid-Market BI, Just the Right Size

Brick and Caleb discuss the unique data needs of mid-market companies in the approximately $50M to $2B revenue range.


#27 - Snickers Bars and Master Data Management

Brick and Caleb discuss the topic of Master Data Management (MDM) for analytical data. It's conceptually simpler than it might at first seem but takes commitment to implement and maintain. No Snickers bars were harmed in the making of this episode.


#26 - Found One Million Dollars of Missing Invoicing Thanks to BI

Brick and Caleb discuss a BI project that had an unexpected, but very welcome payoff.

Read more: Case Studies


#25 - The Downsides of Manual Reporting, with Bryan Maltais

Brick and Bryan, a Business Intelligence Consultant, discuss the downsides of manual reporting and the upsides of automated reporting. They also discuss how to get going on automated reporting without breaking the bank.

“Implementing business intelligence and automated reporting is the ultimate low-hanging fruit to transform your business.”

Read more: Pitfalls of Manual Excel Reporting


#24 - Azure and Power BI - A Match Made in BI Heaven

Brick and Caleb discuss some of the many ways that Power BI and the Microsoft Azure platform work together so well. Power BI can do reporting well from most data systems, but when it is paired with the services in Azure, a lot of additional capabilities are made easy to do.

Read more: Azure and Power BI


#23 - How Not to Build a Dashboard

In this episode, Brick and Caleb discuss some of the things to avoid when building a dashboard, whether for yourself or for a business. They cover approximately ten important items to consider. 

“Anyone can watch some YouTube videos and learn how to create a report in Power BI. But creating a report that actually improves outcomes takes a lot more training and experience.”

Read more: How to Build an Effective (Power BI) Dashboard and Dashboard Design to Ensure Adoption


#22 - The Pros and Cons of Low or No code ETL Tools

Brick and Caleb discuss low and no code ETL tools, sometimes referred to as "enterprise service bus" or ESB or eBus. They point out some of the common pros and cons to think about when considering using one of these tools.


#21 - When Not to Use a Data Warehouse

Brick, Blue Margin's founder and CEO, and Caleb, Vice President of Delivery Operations, discuss some of the most common situations where it makes sense to skip the data warehouse and instead do your analysis and reporting without it.

Read more: Best Practices for Data Warehouse Architecture


#20 - How to Budget for a BI Project, with Kate Eberle

Brick, Blue Margin's founder and CEO, and Kate, Director of Consulting, discuss how to think about what an appropriate budget might be for BI projects. They get into considerations around ROI and business impact, and also whether to do the work internally or potentially an outside partner.

#19 - Using BI to Drive Accountability, with Greg Brown

Brick sits down with Greg Brown, one of Blue Margin's consultants, to discuss accountability in business and how BI can play a big role in creating a culture of accountability.

Brick references the book, The Game of Work, by Charles Coonradt. Here's the link to its Amazon listing. And here's the link to the author's business website.

Read more: Using BI to Create Accountability and a Healthy Culture

#accountability #transparency #visibility #reporting #BI


#18 - How to Effectively Manage a BI Project, with Jennie Swenson

Brick sits down with Jennie Swenson, Blue Margin's Director of the PMO, to discuss the project management approach she and her PMs take to delivering successful BI projects.

#17 - Why We Moved to Fixed-Price Billing

Brick and Caleb discuss Blue Margin's shift from time-and-materials to fixed-price billing. The change has materially improved the outcomes of their projects for clients and for Blue Margin. Some of the benefits are not intuitively obvious but will make sense to most billing professionals.

For a great resource on fixed-price billing, check out Jonathan Stark. His focus is more on "value pricing" rather than fixed pricing, but most of the concepts apply to both.

#16 - How to Succeed with BI: Types of Data Sources and Data Integration

This episode gets a bit technical as Brick and Caleb discuss different types of data sources you might run into when building reports or a data warehouse. They also talk about approaches for combining data from different systems and dealing with data redundancy. 

Read more: Succeed with BI: Manage Data Sources, Integration, and Redundancy


#15 - Expert Insight Series - Taking Advantage of Economic Headwinds, Interview with Jill Belconis

Jon Thompson, Cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Margin, sits down with Jill Belconis, career CEO at Shelter Mortgage turned strategic business coach. They discuss taking an offensive stance during cyclical economic downturns, focusing on your “one thing,” using a job scorecard (BI) for accountability, not going it alone, and overcoming resistance when creating a data-driven culture.

Read more: Jill Belconis on Scaling Business with Clarity and (Data) Alignment

Podcast Links (in order of appearance):
Young President’s Organization (YPO)
Carver Peterson
National Bureau of Economic Research – Business Cycles Since 1940s
Jim Collins’ Flywheel Concept
Jill’s Blog Article – Focusing on the One Thing
Jill’s Blog Article – The Job Scorecard
Scaling Up
Patrick Lencioni’s New Book – The Working Genius
Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Jill’s TED Talk


#14 - How to Quickly Get BI Wins

Getting started with BI is easier than you might think, but there are a few key things to keep in mind.

For further reading: The Quick Path to Winning with Data and Dashboards


#13 - BI Is Not the Same as an ERP Implementation

BI projects can and should be much more agile than something like an ERP implementation. They should be structured to deliver results and value quickly.

For further reading: Starting a BI Initiative? Choose Agile Over Waterfall (

#12 - Why Spend Time on Report Design and Wireframing, with Will Trickett

There are significant benefits to spending time up front on report design before jumping into the actual build. 

Read more: Successful Dashboards: How Wireframing Saves Time and Delivers Results

#11 - How to Succeed with BI: Aligning on Metrics

Brick and Caleb discuss the importance of aligning on the definition of metrics. It seems obvious, but can be tricky if you're not careful.

For further reading: 2 Essential Ingredients of Successful Data Projects


#10 - How to Succeed with BI: Defining the Impact

Brick and Caleb discuss defining the impact a BI effort is expected to deliver so you can decide whether it is worth the effort or can be achieved in a simpler way.

For further reading: 2 Essential Ingredients of Successful Data Projects


#9 - How to Succeed with BI: External Partner or Internal Team?

Brick and Caleb discuss the pros and cons of tackling your BI project using outside help versus keeping the work in-house.

Read more: When to Use an External BI Consultant


#8 - Who Should Own BI in Your Company, with Kate Eberle

Brick and Kate discuss the different roles within a company that typically own the BI function and some of the potential pros and cons of each.

Read more: Who is Your Data Mobilizer?


#7 - Data Warehouses - Why the Bad Rap?

Brick and Caleb discuss the "modern data warehouse" and what distinguishes it from the traditional data warehouse.

Read more: Best Practices for Data Warehouse Architecture


#6 - Why Power BI (vs. Tableau, Qlik, etc.)?

Brick and Caleb discuss why they feel Power BI is almost always the right choice for your BI tool.

#5 - Performing Data Diligence

Brick and Caleb discuss performing diligence around data maturity of an organization prior to purchase.

Read more: How to Assess Acquisition Value Through Data Diligence

#4 - Data Visibility and the PE-Backed Executive

Jon and Brick discuss their experiences with BI in business and specifically as VC-backed and then PE-owned business managers.
“When you don't have good instrumentation, you spend a lot of time worrying about what you don't know.” - Brick Thompson, CEO

Read more: Data Visibility and the PE-backed Executive


#3 - Expert Insight Series - Interview with Adam Coffey, Author of The Private Equity Playbook

Jon Thompson, Cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Margin, sits down with Adam Coffey, #1 bestselling author of The Private Equity Playbook and The Exit Strategy Playbook, to discuss the state of private equity investments, strategies for reinvestment at the time of exit, and how data analytics supports executives in operations and diligence.

Interview Highlights: Adam Coffey and The Exit Strategy Playbook


#2 - When Changes to Your Business Break Your Reporting

Brick and Caleb discuss a recent change at Blue Margin that made their reporting no longer useful, and how they fixed it. 

#PowerBI #businessintelligence #reporting #BI #dashboard #datawarehouse


#1 - Do You Really Need a Data Warehouse?

Brick and Caleb discuss the merits of building a data warehouse versus connecting directly to a data source (such as an ERP system) for creating reports in Power BI and other reporting tools. 

Visit Blue Margin's library of additional BI resources here.

#Azure #PowerBI #businessintelligence #reporting #BI #dashboard #datawarehouse

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