This article zooms in on budgeting solutions for professional sports organizations using Dynamics GP, with a focus on planning processes.

 
How do you budget for your company? Microsoft Excel might be the go-to software
for finance departments, but Excel isn’t meant to handle planning for organizations of a bigger size, like professional sports teams. More Dynamics GP customers are choosing independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting tools for updating and enhancing their planning processes. Modern third party solutions streamline budgeting and forecasting by focusing in on secure teamwork. This article will discuss the impact of modern ISV budgeting tools, so your professional sports team can build modern planning processes with Dynamics GP.
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This article will touch on the basics of budgeting with your ERP system.

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The process of investing in a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can be a daunting task. Where do you start? Do you find reviews online and hope they are in line with your company’s needs and goals? Let me break it down for you. We’ll explore the basics of ERP from software pricing to ERP utilization with third party budgeting solutions.
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This article discusses tools that will impact forecasting and analyses for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce users.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.


If your organization has a sales and marketing team, and your organization wants to show your customers that they are a priority, a customer relationship management (CRM) software is probably a good thing to invest in. If you are not familiar with CRM, let me give you a brief overview of it, as well as examples of how CRM can benefit your company.
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This article will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Sage Business Intelligence and Third Party Solutions.


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Choosing the right Business Intelligence (BI) solution for your company is a lot like choosing what you need to eat for a healthier lifestyle. Is your company lacking nutrition? What does it need to help that problem and make better decisions? BI is an exciting realm to delve into because it does a number of things. It gives insight into consumer behavior, it improves efficiency, it increases productivity, and it turns data into actionable information. According to Gartner, the world’s leading Information Technology (IT) research company, BI is defined as “an umbrella term that include the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.” The objective is to provide organizations the right knowledge in the hands of the right people at the right time to make informed decisions. BI increases the ability to identify trends and challenges, as well as fine-tune operations to meet business goals.
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As many Management Reporter (MR) customers and partners have now heard, there were two announcements from Microsoft in the past few weeks about the future of Management Reporter: one was at the Amplify conference in Anaheim, California on Sunday, May 22 last month, and the other was in writing and can be found here. This blog is a follow up to the first one, written after the Amplify conference, but now with more information available from Microsoft.

For people that like to analyze and read between the lines in vendor announcements, you can read into what is meant with “no major enhancements (of MR for GP)”. For anyone that has been in the software industry for a while, it typically means one thing: MR is going on life support, but there will be bug fixes and maybe some small improvements as well as the typical 10 years of support that Microsoft often offers on major products that are being sunset.

What about MR for Dynamics GP (whose team the recent MR announcement came from) vs Dynamics SL and Dynamics AX? The recent MR announcement came from the GP team, so the slowdown of MR development there is confirmed. Now, MR supposedly has the same engine, albeit different integrations, regardless of it being AX, GP or SL, so it would be quite strange if there would be full development of deep MR functionality (not talking User Interface here) for AX, but not for GP. However, that is just speculation and for sure there will be someone taking care of MR, at least for AX 7/cloud and maybe later AX updates. So, let’s leave that door open as AX in the cloud is a very high priority for Microsoft.

And, it is a known fact that SL has a smaller customer base than GP and thus, less resources behind it, so although there has not been any MR announcements from the SL team, it would be very strange if MR’s destiny is not the same there as it is for GP customers using MR.

What about Dynamics NAV? Microsoft tried to use MR on NAV for a while, but it was discontinued a while back because MR really did not work well on NAV’s multi-dimensional database, and NAV customers moved on and today, use the native NAV report writer or ISVs, like Jet Reports and BI360.

However, Dynamics customers have many choices, probably more than most ERP systems on the market, and reporting and CPM vendors are as usual standing ready to help the customers to greener pastures when they decide the time is right to move off MR.

With that said, while existing customers that are completely happy with MR can easily stay the course with MR for a while, new customers should then decide if it is worth the risk to invest time and money in MR report writing or if they should implement a closely integrated ISV product that does the same as MR and maybe more, like reporting on both GL and sub-ledger data. There are several of these products, including BI360, BizNet, Jet Reports, Prophix and ZAP. Some of them using Excel and some using browser interfaces or both. As with any type of ISV product in the ERP space, the goal of an ISV is to stay relevant and grow by always staying ahead of the ERP vendor’s own functionality, which is often free and embedded, like you will see with MR for AX on Azure.

So, let’s assume that MR has reached its retirement age for all or most of the Dynamics ERPs and is now moving into the retirement home to enjoy the rest of its life there, with “minor releases.” What is next from Microsoft? Are they going to ignore the need for financial reporting? Are they going to look beyond MR’s limitation to only report on GL data? What about budgeting features or embedded visualizations?

Let’s make some educated guesses about the alternatives Microsoft may be thinking about for financial reporting and corporate performance management (CPM). Here are some potential options (not in order of likelihood):

Option 1:
Microsoft can change their strategy on MR and rebuild it into a modern, non-proprietary, cloud friendly report writer and try to expand it into also reporting on sub-ledgers, so customers don’t need to use two or more report writers for their different ERP reporting requirements.

Option 2:
Microsoft can keep MR on life support until they launch a brand new tool. Who knows, maybe they are in stealth mode and already working on something related to expansion of Power BI into a more full-fledged combined BI and CPM tool?

Option 3:
Microsoft can acquire a CPM vendor. It would then be likely be a modern, cloud-based tool since Microsoft is extremely focused on the cloud in almost all regards these days.

Option 4:
Microsoft can develop partnerships with financial reporting or full-fledged CPM vendors while they figure out the future, which again will likely be #2 or #3 above, or they may lean on their ISV channel for the longer term.

Ultimately, Microsoft knows that they will need a good reporting and budgeting tool for AX Cloud, Madeira and NAV, as these three ERPs seems to be what they bet their long term cloud and on-premise presence on.

In the meantime, Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL customers probably have the best ISV community of any their ERP competitors, so there are plenty of pre-integrated third party solutions ready to take Microsoft Dynamics’ financial reporting to the next level. What that next level is can be food for thought in a future blog.

This article will focus on Management Reporter (MR) and the options for investing in a new reporting tool.

Management Reporter

Management Reporter (MR) is an interactive reporting application that was designed for business professionals that can use the application to create, share, maintain, and view their financial statements. Microsoft offers MR for their ERP customers as a native General Ledger (GL) report writer in Dynamics AX, GP, and SL, almost aided by the more technical reporting tool, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to solve ERP reporting problems. If you attended Microsoft’s Amplify conference in May this year, you probably have heard that MR will no longer have any major releases, but rather go into maintenance mode with only minor updates. In other words, the product is clearly heading for the sunset. Many companies who have used MR and its predecessor, FRx, are already looking for an alternative. This blog article will zoom in on the concerns regarding the impact of this change and the solutions to these concerns.
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LOS ANGELES, CA, June 3, 2016 – Solver, Inc., a global leader in Business Intelligence for all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, including Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP Business One, Acumatica, and Intacct, today announced that it has made Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the third consecutive year.  Gartner Magic Quadrants are a culmination of research in a specific market, giving a wide-angle view of how well technology providers execute against their vision.

“We’re excited and honored to be recognized by Gartner for the third year in a row in this elite group of corporate performance management (CPM) solutions, said Mike Applegate, Solver CTO. “As we continue our global expansion, we are accelerating our product vision of BI360. Lead by our outstanding partners, the advanced reporting, planning and dashboard capabilities of BI360 continue to enable information workers access to meaningful data, to make better decisions. We have many exciting announcements planned for our annual user conference later this year, which will further strengthen our leadership as the premiere CPM solution.”

Magic Quadrants provide a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers, where market growth is high and provider differentiation is distinct:

  • Leaders execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow.
  • Visionaries understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute well.
  • Niche Players focus successfully on a small segment, or are unfocused and do not out-innovate or outperform others.
  • Challengers execute well today or may dominate a large segment, but do not demonstrate an understanding of market direction.

Solver’s placement within the Niche Players category of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant demonstrates its focus on the mid-market and the Microsoft platform.

About Solver

Solver provides BI360, the leading Business Intelligence suite for Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, SL, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, Intacct, Acumatica, NetSuite and other ERP systems. Solver is a Microsoft Gold ISV Partner and the winner of the Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award and has a presence on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. BI360 is sold through a worldwide network of resellers and is ideal for companies looking to find a user-friendly, yet highly functional Reporting, Budgeting, Dashboard, and Data Warehouse solution to give them deep insight and actionable information across all facets of their organization.

For any questions, visit Solver’s website or contact Solver at info@solverglobal.com.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. We deliver the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, we are the valuable partner to clients in over 13,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, we work with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA., and has 5,800 associates, including more than 1,450 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries.

For any questions, visit Gartner’s website or contact Gartner at info@gartner.com

LOS ANGELES, CA, June 2, 2016 – Solver, Inc., the global leader in Business Intelligence for mid-market ERP systems, today announced an integration with Sage 100.

“We are thrilled to provide world-class BI360 reporting, consolidations, budgeting and dashboard options to Sage 100 users and our partners,” said Nils Rasmussen, CEO of Solver. “Our comprehensive Business Intelligence suite is an organic fit for many Sage 100 customers and prospects, specifically those companies who are still using manual Excel spreadsheets or other sub-par processes to manage financial planning and reporting, but can appreciate the importance and value of automated financial processes.”

The initial release includes pre-built, live reporting for Sage 100’s General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Order Entry, Purchase Orders, and Inventory Control modules. This means that a customer finance team can install BI360, instantly start writing reports with the modern Excel add-in and then, have their users run these live reports and dashboards in Excel, as well as the BI360 Portal or on mobile devices. Adding the BI360 Data Warehouse, Sage 100 customers can then also do budgeting and merge Sage 100 data with other in-house data sources for a complete Business Intelligence capability at a fraction of the price and implementation effort of traditional BI solutions.

Driven by a wizard, the integration connecting BI360 to Sage 100 is built to make it completely non-technical for a business user or partner to configure and populate the BI360 Data Warehouse with Sage 100 data.  Almost immediately, joint customers can start writing BI360 reports, or configure new BI360 budget models and dashboards.

About Solver

Solver provides BI360, the leading Business Intelligence suite for Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, SL, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, Intacct, Acumatica, NetSuite and other ERP systems. Solver is a Microsoft Gold ISV Partner and the winner of the Microsoft BI Partner of Year Award and has a presence on the Gartner Group CPM Magic Quadrant. BI360 is sold through a worldwide network of resellers and is ideal for companies looking to find a user-friendly, yet highly functional Reporting, Budgeting, Dashboard, and Data Warehouse solution to give them deep insight and actionable information across all facets of their organization.

For any questions, visit Solver’s website or contact Solver at info@solverglobal.com.