With BI360 organizations can report live from their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or from the BI360 Data Warehouse (DW).  The question is which one is best for your organization.  Each organization needs to determine which approach is best or whether a hybrid approach is best.  This article will give the benefits of using each option.
There are three main benefits of reporting live from the ERP:

  1. Live Reporting: there is a direct connection from many ERP’s directly into BI360, which allows for live reporting on thousands of fields.  This means that once a transaction is entered into the ERP, then it is available for reporting.  There is not a delay or a process that a user needs to wait for.
  2. Cost of Configuration: BI360 is already pre-configured for thousands of fields in many ERP; therefore, once the software is installed a person can start building reports.
  3. Metadata: as mentioned, there are already multiple modules and thousands of fields already available for many ERP’s, such as all Microsoft Dynamics products, Sage MAS500 and X3, and Epicor Prophet 21.  Standard modules and fields are constantly being added at no cost.

The BI360 Data Warehouse offers many advantages as well:

  1. Speed: using the DW enables organizations to perform many tasks to speed up reports, such as indexing, using a different server which is recommended, and using the flexibility of the DW to enhance report building.
  2. Report Design: Building reports directly from ERP requires hard-coding many times, such as accounts.  For example, cash would be a specific account range and then accounts receivable would be set up as another range.  The DW allows an organization to create trees or attributes so that the report design can point to current assets and the report will dynamically expand.  This will limit the number of groupings, which will greatly enhance speed. Please refer to the White Paper BI360 White Paper – Using Attributes instead of Account Ranges.
  3. Consolidation: consolidating multiple companies from the ERP requires the multi-company tool.  The DW allows companies to build hierarchy trees and report on any level of the tree.
  4. Combine Multiple Sources: gives the ability to combine multiple data sources and report from them using one connection.

There are many advantages to using either solution, but we have many clients that use a hybrid solution.  The recommendation would be to clearly define what reports would be built connecting to the ERP vs. the DW, so that there is no confusion within the organization.  An example of a hybrid approach would be using the ERP for subledgers and the DW for budgeting and financial/operational reporting.

There is no doubt that a new generation of Enterprise Collaboration tools are coming full steam to the corporate marketplace. As the Facebook generation(s) starts demanding modern collaboration tools and interfaces at the workplace, this new breed of “social” business tools are here to stay. Early adopters are already using one or more enterprise collaboration tools, while late adopters might take two or more years to get on-board.
Yes, we have had collaboration tools available for a long time, just look at how much time we spend with e-mails, desktop sharing tools and sharing of files on the good old intranet every day. The question that every executive who believes technology is the way to make a real impact on their organization should be asking themselves is; if e-mails, meetings, conference calls, employee surveys, HR-managed resource and phone lists are the best use of everyone’s time for the next 10 years or if a good amount of this communication could have a better home in a modern enterprise collaboration tool.
A successfully implemented (including executive sponsorship and cultural adaptation) enterprise collaboration tool could with ONE single web-based interface (not with logging in to 5 different tools) that works on any device help with the following:
1. Idea generation and nurturing
2. Finding and networking with key resources (people directory)
3. Facilitating and storing of important business discussions of any kind (that does not include communication like: “Hey Joe, do you want to go to lunch at Noon today?”). E-mails and instant messaging do a fine job handling that today.
4. Facilitating and storing of key information through built-in micro-blogs and wikis
5. Facilitating and storing employee (and partner/customer) surveys
5. Searching and finding historical information from all of the above processes
6. Cross-linking of information from all of the above, so when you are doing one task, key words in your text start finding related items in the collaboration repository and serving it up real-time.
I think it is just a matter of time before modern enterprise collaboration tools are at a maturity stage and there are enough success stories that the technology becomes more important to growth and productivity than for example the company’s ERP system. This will not happen in 2012, but my guess would be by around 2014 or 2015.

As a selection tool, a cost / benefit analysis helps you focus on the most suitable category of software, rather than trying to differentiate between similar budgeting solutions. For example, it can help you find out if your needs are better served by:
  • High-end or low-end software
  • SQL-based or OLAP based software
  • Web-based or standard client-server software
In addition to helping to distinguish between different software categories, a cost / benefit analysis can help you decide whether to stay with what you have or make a new software acquisition.
If you were to look at a range of companies using the different budgeting packages on the market, you would see that their levels of satisfactions range from highly satisfied to dissatisfied. Finding success with a particular solution is dependent on several factors:

  • Software features
  • Skills and involvement of key employees
  • Long term support and software upgrades from the software vendor

In the software selection phase, matching the organizational needs and constraints with software features is essential for success. One of the best ways to do this is to devise a list that weighs the benefits against costs. (See below)
A cost / benefit analysis table can become rather subjective because it is hard to assign a value of intangible items. However, because each item is weighted, it usually provides a better indication than simply drawing up a list of pros and cons with no assigned values.

Note: Scoring from 10 to -10 for each item, where 10 is the highest score and -10 is the lowest score. A total score above 0 shows that the company most likely will achieve an overall benefit by purchasing the new software.

To help you in your search for budgeting software that best fits your organization, our solution BI360 Planning can be viewed anytime in a recorded webinar  “Looking to Take Away the Pain of this Year’s Budgeting Process?“. Following the webinar, if you should need any additional information or would like to request a live demonstration email us: info@solverusa.com.