In today’s increasingly global business world, there’s a growing demand for flexibility, secure collaboration, and accessibility when generating financial reports and dashboards. This article will discuss mobile reporting and dashboards in the context of meeting modern professionals’ BI needs.
I was recently talking to a CFO of an international company who lived and worked from the headquarters in Seattle, Washington about the limitations and related frustrations he was facing in trying to run his company. In the past few years, he has been traveling a lot, sometimes internationally, because of a reorganization and the growth of his company. His team is using SAP Business One and Crystal Reports, but he is currently in the market for a new Business Intelligence (BI) solution that will empower him and his finance team to easily collaborate, report, and generate data visualizations whether they are in the office, in one of their international offices, or even somewhere like an airport restaurant. Sound familiar?
Even if you are not facing the same struggle or cannot relate to being a growing international company, the demand for flexibility, accessibility, and mobility is commonsense. As technology continues to enable professionals to produce financial reports, budgets, and dashboards in more efficient ways, I know it is not just me (and this CFO): more independent software vendors (ISVs) need to apply the principles of streamlining, turbo charging, and collaborating to all areas of BI. The truth is, there are a few third party products that incorporate all of that, with a head start into the quickly evolving future. In the case of this CFO – and a lot of SAP B1 customers, there is a need for some reporting that is specifically built for on-the-go decision-making. This article will explore the concept of mobile reporting and dashboards for SAP Business One.
Since SAP B1 retired XL Reporter (XLR) and shifted their focus to Crystal Reports, there is a growing population of customers who are unsatisfied. Just wander the internet for a minute, and you will find forums, web sites, and LinkedIn postings that speak to the disappointment that is related to the shift away from an Excel-based financial report writing tool to the proprietary interfaced Crystal Reports. I have written about alternatives to Crystal Reports that take the ease of Excel-based reporting into today’s fast lane of reporting tools because, if there is going to be a replacement, it should be a true upgrade, especially for the investment of time, money, and energy that it will require. And an upgrade means that financial reporting should take a different shape for the changing landscape of the business world.
For this CFO using SAP B1, he and his team wish they still had the easy-to-use Excel add-on tool, XLR, for financial reporting. But he was also aware of options to move into the Cloud. He was curious about the perks about accessing templates and running reports from anywhere there is an internet connection. On the other hand, he had heard enough complaining about the non-Excel interface from his team, and he shared their frustration, as it felt like a step backward in terms of their ability to get things done. At one point, he had assumed they would get used to Crystal Reports, and he admitted that they surely would, but he now wants more. As we continued to discuss his wish list, it became clear to me that it broke down into three main concepts: flexibility, collaboration, and accessibility.
Flexibility refers to the ability to produce reports and dashboards in different ways, with the same efficiency. As the workplace continues to change in shape, size, and geography, there are people working in the office on the network, working remotely – with or without access to Excel, and working from the backseat of a cab. Excel is the preferred spreadsheet program around the globe, so professionals have been using the formulas and formatting since at least college. However, my CFO pal was concerned about giving up Excel for the mobility of the web, and that simply is not true. There are a few third party products that power their web portals with Excel formatting and the flexibility to go back and forth between the two. It is sometimes all about knowing how to shop for your BI tool. Meanwhile, with some finance teams spread out, whether it is because of business travel or home offices, there’s still a need for people to securely work together.
Finance teams might assign individual duties to different positions, but collaboration is inevitable. You should be looking for a solution that allows people to securely collaborate across multiple modalities. Whether it be Excel spreadsheet distribution, a web portal with a report library, and/or password-enabled access for designated users, your team should be able to safely collaborate on report writing and share dashboards whether you are working in the office on a PC, a tablet on a flight with WIFI, or on your mobile reporting application in the lobby of a prospective client. There are solutions that empower you to access and participate at whatever coordinates you find yourself on the globe, at whatever time of day.
Accessibility is really where mobile reporting and dashboards for SAP B1 bring together all three of these elements. Most professionals, especially at the executive level, are carrying smartphones. There are few ISVs who have released mobile applications – and they worth your consideration, as a feature of a reporting module, or when replacing Crystal Reports. If you are attending an international conference or participating in a sales pitch in a different time zone, your other responsibilities do not pause. Mobile applications allow you to make informed decisions regarding the current health and future of your company from wherever you are with the ease of your smartphone.
Mobile reporting and dashboards is relatively limited in terms of those offering the product, but it is safe to assume that ISVs are rushing to roll out their reporting and dashboards mobile applications. The current offerings typically are dashboard-related and zoom in on one key performance indicator (KPI) at this time, due to the size of mobile phones. However, in terms of urgent decision-making, this might be all that you need, whether it is a summary of figures in a table or visualized data in charts or graphical scorecards – especially when you don’t have any other way to access company data, in some cases. It is a powerful evolution that speaks to the demands of today’s business world. You are bound to have a lot of questions about the best way to combine flexibility, collaboration, and accessibility in a BI solution that includes mobile reporting and dashboards for SAP Business One. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web and mobile reporting and dashboard application, positioned within a full suite of BI tools for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities with SAP Business One.