In the modern business culture, a powerful financial report writer is essential in translating the growing amount of data into analyses that inform better decision-making for the future – and it’s not different for professional sports teams. Your options as a professional sports team can be overwhelming, particularly with everything else on your list of tasks to maintain the brand and stay competitive as a team and a corporation. In this article, I’ll discuss features and functionality you should seek to improve your financial reporting process as a professional sporting team using Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Financial reporting looks like custom statements comprised of your transactional and operational information, either right from Dynamics GP or from an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or data warehouse. GP comes equipped with a legacy reporting module, called Report Writer, but plenty are hanging on to the discontinued FRx or its replacement, Management Reporter (MR). Additional tools that GP natively offers: Smartlist, SSRS, Analysis Cubes, Power BI, and more, which makes for way too many software to learn – and none of these are a singular, universal reporting tool that can report across all GP modules, are business user friendly in the design process, and also provide web and mobile end user options and modern formatting. However, independent software vendors (ISVs) have been really successful at bringing robust, easy-to-use reporting solutions to market that enable finance departments to build reusable, customizable templates, with specific reporting functionality to serve your professional sporting analytical needs. When searching for the right reporting solution, you should weigh your data integration options, Excel, web, and/or proprietary platforms, as well as business user friendliness and other elements.
Lots of consumers wonder why they shouldn’t just rely on the Microsoft BI stack, which has been around for some time now, but a quick search on the internet would return several articles detailing the underwhelming software experience related to the limits of non-Excel, GL-exclusive, non-web reporting that Report Writer, FRx, and MR all provide users. You might find these options interesting because they, for the most part, are free, but you will get what you pay for with these proprietary interfaces. If you are wanting to truly upgrade your reporting processes and are prepared to invest in a solution, there are lots of easy-to-use tools that provide professionally formatted sub ledger reporting, live integrations, and flexible web and mobile access.
The arguably foundational element to consider should be how you want to integrate and pull your data. How do you integrate your data currently? Would you prefer to pull information live from GP, from a BI data store, or from both options? A live integration means you can achieve a real-time analysis of GP data, but could make the server sluggish, depending on how many users are querying simultaneous and/or significant data sets. FRx, MR, BizNet, and Solver’s BI360 provide live integrations to Dynamics GP, in addition to other data sources, while plenty of report writers exclusively query data via the high performance route of a BI data store.
BI data stores, like OLAP cubes and data warehouses, are more stable, but are not as flexible as a live integration. BI data stores are more ideal with multiple users and larger amounts of data to analyze. But you will first be replicating company data to the platform, and there is an additional price tag. You should know that some products, like BI360, are hybrids that allow you to integrate both ways, and you can report both on your General Ledger data as well as on sub-ledger data. And flexibility relates directly to ease of use, another important consideration.
Excel has been around for decades and is relatedly ingrained in the finance world, but is it remaining competitive for today’s business culture? Some ISVs would argue that Excel is challenging when you go to manually link disparate spreadsheets. This sentiment is usually put forth by vendors who are marketing their own proprietary tools. However, Excel’s familiarity is a great advantage, so Excel add-ins accelerate the spreadsheet program with accounting logic and secure collaboration. Even though Microsoft products like FRx and MR are not Excel-based, software like BizNet, F9, and Solver’s BI360 are all Excel add-ins, making software implementation and utilization simple for business end users. Even though Excel might be the most familiar, Web and mobile reporting is the present and future of BI technology.
Web-based reporting tools, which are often called Cloud BI solutions if they are hosted off-site in the Cloud, provide flexibility in terms of accessing your data from anywhere you can connect to the internet. Regardless of where business takes you, you can pull up and drill-down into your company data, so you can contribute to decision-making processes. Web-based software directly responds to the on-the-go, global nature of business today, with flexible access outside of the office assisting in the move toward more collaborative ownership of a company’s future. Adaptive Insights and Host Analytics are both pure Cloud reporting tools, while BI360 provides a hybrid experience of both an Excel platform and a web portal, in addition to mobile reporting. Few ISVs have mobile applications that provide data analysis on your mobile devices. Mobile reporting is helpful for corporate decision-makers who are always away from their desks, but tend to be somewhat restricted due to screen size. Conceptually, mobility will continue to grow in importance, perhaps especially to road warriors working for a professional sports team.
Professional sports teams generally have typical reporting needs, but sometimes have to zoom in on industry-specific analyses. While they usually are processing standard P&L reporting, some are forecasting ticket sales, and some set up GP with cost centers for particular team-related operations, such as games, venues, managers, players, scouts, and various minor league clubs. Some might use reporting to understand past performance, so they can build a post-season budget. A final example: some teams might use GP’s Analytical Accounting (AA) module, which is an add-on that allows you to add more dimensions to the GL, so you can check expense reimbursements by player. All of these sporting-specific analyses can be processed by the best modern ISV solutions.
Finding the best fit for a financial report writer to upgrade your Microsoft Dynamics GP experience needs to be about figuring out your specific needs as a professional sports team, especially from those who are charged with creating and running reports. While this process can be complicated, it is essential considering the investment. 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 professional sports teams using Dynamic GP.