Automating Business Intelligence (BI) processes, such as reporting and budgeting, increases the value of your investment in a modern tool. This article discusses today’s automation options for SAP Business One.
Reporting and budgeting are popular article topics for SAP Business One users, whether it is in print, on social media, or blogs. On this blog, I have covered reporting and budgeting, zooming in on options for SAP B1. At this point, you probably think that writers of these articles assume that all you do in your role is build financial reports and manage budgets – and spend the rest of the time reading about these processes. If you feel this way, I get that.
It might feel like researching, shopping around for, and deploying business intelligence (BI) solutions could be your full-time position, especially with all the content focusing on how to access, manage, and analyze your company data. On the other hand, modern solutions are designed with consumer needs (of streamlining, empowering, and automating) in mind for reporting and budgeting, whether you are working in Excel, right in SAP B1, or utilizing an independent software vendor (ISV) product, so you can more quickly get to the other items on your to-do list.
SAP B1 is a popular, robust, and established accounting system. Even so, no program can solve all business “problems.” I’ve talked to plenty of SAP B1 users who wonder why they would look outside of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system at all – just to invest more money into a product for management of their reporting and/or budgeting processes. I used to go through my spiel about crafting a best-of-breed solution for meeting your specific company goals, but now, I tend to point to Solver CEO Nils Rasmussen’s article about Microsoft’s BI stack versus third party solution implementation. I’ve explored diverse functionalities that motivate a purchase from an ISV, but one aspect might very well add value to every other offered feature.
We have covered integrating live versus querying from a BI data store, sub-ledger reporting (GL), options regarding Cloud-based versus on-premises BI, financial consolidations, ad hoc reporting and project budgeting, amongst other business problems and the related available BI solutions. Through all of this exploration, I have come to realize that business user friendliness is the necessary foundation in a product. And automation is all about ease of use. Automated processes empower finance teams to get out of the way of routine reporting and/or budgeting, so they can focus on other responsibilities.
SAP B1, like most other accounting systems, does not have a true solution to modern reporting and budgeting needs built into the program. There’s the SAP-sponsored Crystal Reports, which is a proprietary platform. Based on the forums in and around the internet, it is a sore replacement for the popular XL Reporter (XLR). Therefore, given native options and Crystal Reports as an alternative, third party products and their functionalities become that much more valuable. Moreover, automation as a feature takes the analysis processes you would like to avoid anyway – and delivers the reports and budgets you configure right to your inbox. Automation becomes the personal assistant you have always thought you needed.
As a personal assistant, automation runs and delivers regular financial reports and budgeting updates. Automated reporting and budgeting is modern functionality that does not exist in Excel, any native modules, or even older, simpler ISV programs. In this article, we’ll discuss your options to automate financial reporting and budgeting with today’s dynamic and powerful third party software.
Let’s start with report writing. There are solutions that can automate the scheduling of reporting, which includes e-mail distribution. Envision a new normal where you can configure the distribution pattern for a billing report, and the reporting solution runs the report and e-mails it out every Thursday at 1 PM. You can get out of the way, and you only have to intervene when you need to make changes to your settings, whether it be timing, distribution list additions or subtractions, and/or key performance indicators (KPIs). Example: you can configure the generation of month-end financial statements in one Excel workbook. This is just one example of how automation can allow you to focus on other tasks while your reports run automatically.
Automation additionally applies to managing multiple subsidiary entities under a parent company. Financial consolidations, including eliminations and currency conversions, can be automated across multiple companies and/or across SAP B1 and other accounting systems that might also be deployed for specific subsidiary companies. Automation is flexible and easy to use, which brings us back to the original premier aspect to seek in a product.
Business user friendly, powerful, dynamic, and accessible are traits you should be shopping for in any BI product, and that includes financial reporting and budgeting. All of these characteristics also apply to automation of financial statements and budgets. You will want to seek automated out-of-the-box integration with friendly field names, so business end users can manage their own financial reports, instead of relying on the IT department. Mid-sized or larger SAP B1 customers that need a higher performance in reporting can choose to automate a data warehouse configuration for deployment turnaround in days, as opposed to weeks or months. All of this great functionality – and we haven’t even discussed budgeting yet.
Budgeting and forecasting are processes that most people would prefer to avoid. Automation of any piece of a planning process is then a very valuable option on the ISV market. Some ISV software allow the business user to automate their budgeting process with easy-to-use, configurable Excel or web-based budget forms, with simple loading of the finished budget or forecast back into SAP B1. Maybe it seems like automation is an unnecessary functionality, but for some, it can mean potentially more productivity and less payroll.
Automation of your reporting and budgeting processes functions more as a service than a feature, and that might be the best part of this basically hands-off functionality. Not every third party software will offer automation, so you will want to shop around for the right tool for you. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web and mobile reporting and budgeting solutions, equipped with automation to make collaborative, streamlined decision-making that much easier for SAP Business One users.