Reporting and Document Management for Microsoft Dynamics, Sage X3 and other ERPs

As document management, reporting and business intelligence comes together, a new era of holistic data and text management begins.  This article will explore the world of content intelligence with a focus on the new product category offerings.

In 2007, Gerry Brown, now a Senior Analyst of Customer Engagement & Marketing Technology for Ovum in London, created the term, “content intelligence,” an aggregation of Business Intelligence (BI) and content or document management for improved insight and decision-making power.   What had been two disparate processes and sets of data became one as a customer driven term.  The concept was simple – professionals would like to be able to not only search for their scanned, virtual documents, but to analyze financial reports and drill down to the text and content that lies outside of already input data in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems like Microsoft Dynamics and Sage.  The concept was more than just another buzz word; it combined and streamlined two different analyses into a singular, more holistic approach to corporate performance management, and it is really starting to build momentum.

Back in the 1980’s, software systems started to emerge that were built to virtually manage printed documents, photographs, and other paper-published materials.  Later on, new applications, called electronic document management (EDM) systems, entered the marketplace that organized and maintained electronic documents, created on a computer and stored on the local network.  EDM systems organically evolved to manage any type of file that could be captured and stored on a network.  Essentially, these applications became self-service virtual file cabinets.  Fast forward to the mid 2000’s, and we’re back to Gerry Brown’s “content intelligence.”

Content intelligence is a concept, potentially a buzz word in the business world, but more specifically, it is a new product category.  This new offering in the world of analysis combines business intelligence reporting and data analytics with document management.  Traditionally, document management has scanned, filed, and made documents quickly retrievable by extracting text as search keywords.  Content intelligence, as Brown predicted, allows professionals to “slice, dice, and drill down on text and data as an integrated whole,” in an effort to interpret patterns of text and communication for more informed decision-making.  By combining these two conceptual processes, business end users have self-service access to their data and their text.  But how?  What does it look like?

 

 

Where does this drill-down happen?  What kind of options are out there?  How can I shop for this new type of solution and what should I know before deciding what is right for me and my company?  You will for sure have questions with any new product category, and it always helps to have a foundation of understanding before you can navigate your own research.  This article will explore the world of content intelligence, otherwise known as document management for BI in an effort to answer some of your questions and point you in the right direction when it comes to weighing your product options to find what solution is best for your company.

Printing and storing documents can be expensive – in printing supplies, space, and the retrieval time.  Document management applications function as a way to eliminate printing, physical file cabinets, and the navigation of filing systems that can be overwhelmingly large, seemingly non sequitir, or even just out of date.  More specifically, quality document management systems rely on quick scanning of documents, so you can import electronic files into a network destination that is easily accessible.  With a modern product, you should be able to find scanned documents in seconds because of keyword or full-text search capabilities.  Document management has become user friendly, intuitive, and powerful.  With this refinement, evolution was inevitable.  Now, sophisticated products are integrating with ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics and BI tools to include filed electronic documents in the analysis arena.

One document management vendor, PaperSave, recently paired up with Solver’s BI360 in response to several customer requests for BI analysis capabilities.  The PaperSave product offered electronic workflow management already.  Now, customers want to be able to access the invoices, receipts, and written communication within their ERP as a payables, receivables or some other sub-ledger transaction – for accessible analytics.  PaperSave decided to pair with a BI product like Solver’s BI360 to power the drill-down analysis, and the partnership is paying off for customers.

The integration is simple.  Every time a record is input into Microsoft Dynamics, the product partnership generates a link to the scanned document for accessible evaluation.  This same drill-down path is then also re-produced in financial reports in the BI tool, such as within an Accounts Payable report.  The drill-down functionality will allow the user to answer detailed questions without bothering his or her accounting staff, by drilling down to see the specific scanned document, for example a receipt from Office Depot, which make up the transaction.  Users can access this point-and-click feature in real time from anywhere they can log on to their Dynamics server, anywhere they have internet connection for web-powered BI Suites like BI360.  This upgrade saves money on time and space needed for document management and retrieval, empowers users with self-service BI by drilling down to make more informed assessments and related decisions regarding the health of the company.  This kind of partnership elevates the BI infrastructure of a company as well.

Generally speaking, content intelligence makes for more holistic and streamlined analytics.  Weekly, monthly, project, or annual reports or budgets can include a more complete picture with the ease of point-and-click linkage to the scanned document.  Because of the security built into both solutions, your data and scanned files are accessible only to privileged parties.  Additionally, all important documentation is in one secure space that authorized users can access easily.  With a digital copy of invoices, correspondence, and other print documents, there’s less data input errors.  Budgeting, planning, and modeling will have the functionality to include limitations, capabilities, customer communications, and any monetary risks in the forecast for future profits.  In general, this evolution makes management of company data and any print data the most streamlined it has ever been.  It is a comprehensive response to the actual and physical reality of big data, from multiple sources.

In terms of an investment, it is another software system, but it is built to save substantial money, time, and space, so the return on investment (ROI) is a potentially quick turnaround.  Document management software should be easy to use for the business end user, and it will be important for you to shop for a solution that integrates with your ERP and your BI tools.  Not every BI solution is equipped to integrate with a document management system, so make sure to invest wisely in an option that is a true upgrade.  There is a lot to consider whenever purchasing wide-reaching software, but hopefully, this article gives you a head start in the process.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile comprehensive BI suite with integration to document management systems such as PaperSave and DocLink.

 

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