If you aren’t utilizing a dynamic, robust financial report writing tool, you’re probably just treading water as opposed to fully taking your analytics into the 21st century of business, managing and analyzing your data in very actionable ways. In this article, I’ll discuss the features and functionalities of third party software solution options, so you have a head start in finding and deploying the right report writing software for your Sage X3 analytics processes.
Financial report writers empower users to design company-specific reports that use transactional data from your various sources, whether you are reporting directly from Sage X3, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, and/or relying on a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube. Most accounting systems come equipped with report writing and some financial consolidation functionality, but there are plenty of independent software vendor (ISV) software options you should consider for turbo-charged, efficient, impactful, and easy-to-use reporting. ISV solutions enable finance departments to create reusable, custom report templates that provide accessible and easy-to-understand analyses for corporate leaders, for more enriched decision-making about the future of your company. When evaluating solutions to deploy for your data management and analytics, you should be thinking about several aspects when it comes to the tool: integration options, Excel versus proprietary and/or Web and mobile platforms, and the ease of use for your business end users.
You should weigh your data integration options when seeking a report writing solution to deploy – and this is a foundational element. It would be wise to take notes of your specific business needs, whether than means reporting live from Sage X3 or pulling from a BI data store. Integrating live from Sage X3 means that you get real-time analytics, right from the X3 server. Furthermore, you will not have to replicate the company data you need to your BI data store to produce an up-to-date analysis.
You will have an additional investment with a BI data store, whether you opt to develop and/or manage an OLAP cube with specially trained staff or choose a fully built, configurable data warehouse that you buy as a commercial product. But this additional investment might very well be worth it should you have multiple users working in Sage X3, running sometimes substantial data queries at the same time, because BI data store enable you to avoid a sluggish Sage server, while still achieving a high performance analysis.
Both BI360 and BizNet are Excel-based applications that offer live integrations to Sage X3 and other accounting systems, but most third party software only integrates reporting information from a BI data store. Next on your list of considerations: your team’s platform preferences when designing and producing reports.
A lot of finance teams around the globe are most comfortable working in Excel, a tool most have utilized since undergraduate careers. Some third party software manufacturers have designed their own interfaces for report writers, and they typically assert that Excel is a logistical mess and complicated when trying to securely link and manage spreadsheets. On the other hand, with Excel so popular around the world, the familiarity of the formulas and formatting is hard to deny in the finance world. Excel-based reporting tools are a ribbon add-in that upgrades the program in the toolbar at the top of the window with functionality that focuses on accounting logic, collaboration, and security. BI360 and BizNet are database-structured Excel add-ins, providing Excel fans the advantage of hitting the ground running when maximizing their reporting tool, also eliminating any manual spreadsheet report writing issues. Excel might be the finance world’s champion, but web-based and Cloud reporting is defining the modern era of BI analytics.
To clarify, Cloud computing is a term for software hosted by a third party, off site and on the web. Web-based tools can be hosted in the Cloud or on-site, but both choices empower users to securely manage and evaluate their company information anywhere they can connect to the internet. Regarding financial report writing, you can now create and produce reports on the web, with complete drill-down and collaboration abilities. Pure Cloud reporting tools usually pull data from BI data stores, so you cannot achieve the live, real-time analytics with this option, but some hybrid Excel-powered, browser-based financial report writers.
Because of the around-the-clock, around-the-globe nature of business today, a lot of corporate collaboration is remote and consists of diverse staffing, locations, and divisions. Web reporting enables collaboration and productivity for organizations functioning in this spread out manner, particularly when remote personnel is regularly connecting to the company server(s) and/or network while out of the office. Host Analytics and Adaptive Insights are pure Cloud solutions, and they are also proprietary platforms where your data is pulled out of Sage X3 and moved into the hosting Cloud, while BI360 is a hybrid solution that offers you the flexibility to produce reports in Excel, through a browser, or a mobile application. Make sure that the tool you invest in best meets your needs, especially in terms of ease of use and flexibility. You don’t want to waste your money on a tool that is too complex for your business end users to manage.
Mobile applications are a logical extension of the popular web platform of financial report writing – for even more accessible data management and analytics. Mobile reporting doesn’t yet offer report design on an app, but you can view and drill down into your Sage X3 information. You will not benefit from just going with the solution that offers mobile reporting if you lose sight of your particular BI goals. Mobile reporting should be perceived as a perk to financial reporting software packages, for now anyway. It might be more beneficial for you to consider a financial reporting tool that is part of a complete suite of fully integrated BI solutions, which may include budgeting and dashboards as well.
When seeking the right financial report writer for your specific analytical objectives, you should look for features and functions that will help you tackle your current future problems. BI suites allow you to not only acknowledge where you’ve been and where you are, but they also allow you to plan for the future of your data management and analyses. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile platforms for real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis and collaboration, with the option of email distribution of reports, as the best report writer for Sage X3.