Manufacturing and Distribution Dashboards for Sage X3

In the Business Intelligence marketplace, modern, powerful, and easy-to-use dashboards are upgrading the Sage X3 analytics experience for Manufacturing and Distribution organizations.

Software Advice, a comparison site for Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, has reported that dashboards are a top sell in the BI software marketplace.  They conducted a study on technology for CFOs, and the results pinpointed that data visualization tools are at the top of the list of priorities for today’s executives.  If you’re responsible for management of a manufacturing and distribution company, you are very aware of the fast pace of business today.  Dashboards provide easily digestible and quickly accessible analytics.  Moreover, data visualizations are graphs, charts, and scorecards that showcase data trends, opportunities, and successes with key performance indicators (KPIs) for projects, divisions, and/or the whole organization.

Similar to the dashboard you engage with every day in your car, businesses can make important choices by viewing operational and transactional data trends in a BI dashboard.  The main difference between a dashboard in a vehicle and a BI data visualization is that the BI version invites interaction and interpretation, for deeper analyses and any needed adjustments.  Additionally, a BI dashboard provides drill-to and drill-down features, so you can make decisions about your manufacturing and distribution company with your Sage X3 data.  Okay, so I’m assuming you get it by now: dashboards are extremely popular in business today, and it makes sense.  In this article, we’ll discuss dashboards for manufacturing and distribution organizations using Sage X3.

Let’s begin by talking about integrating data sources.  Today’s dashboard tools can pull your company information from multiple sources.  You can generate real-time analyses by integrating right from Sage X3 and/or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), as well as other data sources.  Data visualizations that are produced from live integrations are better suited for professionals who depend on up-to-the-minute data and smaller companies that only require simpler Sage X3 dashboards, without the resources to manage BI databases, like a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube.  Alternatively, bigger corporations usually need a more stable performance that a BI data store can offer your analytics.

Choosing the data warehouse or an OLAP cube integration route empowers larger organizations to generate dashboards without a sluggish Sage X3 or other data source system server due to substantial and/or simultaneous data queries.  A BI data store is an additional investment, in addition to the responsibility of replicating your data to the data warehouse or OLAP cube, but at least your data queries won’t slow down the server.  Even better news is that some dashboard tools allow the user to choose to integrate live when your analysis is more urgent, with real-time data like when logging customer orders – and pulling information from a BI data store for more routine data visualizations, like staffing and employment.  This flexibility is exactly what the business world needs today, without being too expensive.  And there’s several more aspects to think about when shopping for the best tool for your team.

There are options in terms of software platforms, specifically Excel, web, and/or proprietary.  Of course, Microsoft Excel is undeniably prevalent around the globe for finance teams, but proprietary tools are also popular in the marketplace, as well as the present and future of the technology realm: Web interfaces.  Additionally, some data sources, like Sage X3, come equipped with dashboard functionality, even though they are typically limited in their functionality, simply because data visualizations are not the primary purpose of the software.  The best dashboard tools for organizations today will be Web-based, with design and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection.  A browser-based platform has become more and more popular in the BI technology marketplace.

Web-based solutions are really popular nowadays due to how flexible and accessible the internet can be as a platform for today’s business culture, whether utilized for manufacturing and distribution or not.  If you’re responsible for managing more than one warehouse, plant, and/or distribution center, some staff in-house and some on the road, and/or with an executive team looking for a web platform, there are plenty of independent software vendors (ISVs) producing web-based dashboard software, hosted on-premises or in the Cloud, built with the same KPIs, layout options and drill-down abilities.  Mobile dashboard applications are an extension of this modern flexibility, meaning you can access your data analyses wherever you have your mobile device.  Mobile dashboards can only focus on one KPI at a time due to the size of the screen.  And there are solutions that offer ultimate flexibility in the form of hybridity: Excel, web, and mobile data visualizations.

Some tools offer flexibility in the form of multiple access points for dashboards.  In particular, there are data visualizations that are part of a complete suite of BI tools, securely and fully integrated with financial reporting, planning, and data warehousing modules, sometimes discounted when purchased as a bundle.  A suite of tools translates to one team of partner, consulting, and support professionals for you in terms of your BI analytics with Sage X3.  Data visualizations can be very effective in helping to plan for the future of your manufacturing and distribution company, enriching decisions with actual and budget figures and data trends.

There are plenty of ways that dashboards can impact planning for your manufacturing and distribution organization’s future, but let’s take a look at a couple scenarios.  You can design a dashboard of sales margin by product or group of products, which enables you to review margins related to product.  Additionally, you can use Sage X3 or other source data to illustrate manufacturing output by product and by facility.  This data visualization invites you to analyze the highest output for a specific product – and evaluate efficiency by facility.  A last example could focus on the biggest sales margin by customer or client, so you can pinpoint who is bringing in the most profit at the least expense to your corporation.  Data visualizations are very configurable, and they deliver rich intel.

If you are helping to manage a manufacturing and distribution company, dashboards can allow you to stay competitive and aware with quick and accessible analytics.  Take your time analyzing your specific needs and compare with modern dashboard software options in order to make a wise investment.  The best solution will be easy-to-use, yet powerful without having to involve IT.  Solver offers an Excel, web and/or mobile-based dashboards module stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use data visualization solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for manufacturing and distribution companies using Sage X3.

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