One question that sometimes comes up in conversations with Intacct customers is related to confusion as to why you might need to deploy ISV tool(s) on top of the accounting system. This is a small hurdle for ISVs as the confusion seems to quickly dissipate for the Intacct community. First of all, no software solution, even as great as Intacct has proven to be, can answer to every single business-related analytical hurdle for every company. A perfect example would be Apple offering their own native Maps applications on their iPhones, but still allowing consumers to install the Google Maps app, just as any modern flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, like Intacct, does. Because every organization who utilizes Intacct has particular objectives, specific planning needs and rules, the accounting system will differ in how sufficient of a solution it is for each corporation. ISVs provide businesses the capability to customize their data management and analytics.
Another popular topic has to do with the term, “best-of-breed.” PC Magazine defines best-of-breed as “the best product of its type.” The top offering of any kind is basically impossible to produce as a manufacturer, so “organizations often purchase software from different vendors in order to obtain the best-of-breed functionality for certain key business areas. While ERP vendors provide a wealth of applications for the enterprise and tout their integrated system as the superior solution, every module may not be best-of-breed. It is difficult to excel in every niche.” In other words, if you’re a loyal Intacct customer, it makes sense to complement and supplement the ERP output with an ISV tool to accomplish what you hope to in regard to analytics. But what do you have to choose from for your processes?
Some consumers are not in the know about your options to expand analyses, budgets, consolidations, dashboards, and data storage for modern, powerfully flexible, and easy-to-use BI. And this article will aim to add to this conversation by highlighting the various tasks where third party manufacturers are producing software to expand the Intacct experience.
Traditionally, the main focus for ISV solutions has been financial and operational report writing. I’ve written about Intacct report writers on this blog before, and they’ll probably come up again. Intacct’s built-in reporting function is hardly comparable to today’s ISV solutions. Modern tools are delivering accounting logic, sub-ledger analytics, reusable reporting templates, and pre-built integrations to Intacct, in addition to other data sources, for easy-to-use, robust analyses. Some are Excel-driven, some are web-based, and others bring both together for accessibility. Some ISVs are bringing mobile reporting applications to market as a way to extend the flexibility even further. Budgeting is also a popular area for managers trying to put together a best-of-breed solution for BI and corporate performance management (CPM) processes.
In regard to budgeting and forecasting, these tasks are generally fraught with tedium. This makes sense given the traditionally associated back-and-forth e-mail conversations, concerns about security, distribution of separate spreadsheets, and the manual building of a budget in Excel. However, planning is notably more efficient with a business user friendly, Excel- and/or web-based, logic-infused ISV tool. Modern budgeting solutions enable business end users to securely streamline and own part of the planning process. If you were wondering why you would invest in an add-on tool for Intacct, you’re probably also curious why Excel should need a supplement in the form of an ISV solution.
Despite how trusted Excel is, there are plenty of ISV Excel add-in products that not only upgrade Intacct tasks, but also build up the spreadsheet program by adding features and functionality through a toolbar ribbon. And this means you won’t have to learn a whole new set of formatting and coding formulas. Excel isn’t designed to be as high powered as you need, in terms of reusable templates and accounting logic, in addition to other features that make reporting and budgeting processes easier. You can design scorecards, graphs, charts, and other dashboards in Excel, and yet, dashboards are the #1 priority BI solution for CFOs today.
Data visualizations or dashboards showcase your information in easy-to-digest ways, whether that be a graph, a chart, and/or a scorecard. Even though you can generate data visualizations in Excel with your Intacct data, neither system counts dashboards as a specialty, so they are typically limited. ISVs have answered the consumers’ calls for effective, business user friendly, rich dashboard solutions. Beyond data visualizations, there is also an interest and need from Intacct users to store and manage their data in smarter ways.
Whether data warehouses, data marts, or online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes are of particular interest to you, ISV solutions can help you store substantial and diverse data sets for analytics, record-keeping, and any industry regulations. Because OLAP cubes do not function on an open, relational SQL server platform, the tool has to be managed by personnel with OLAP-specific experience and skills. That said, OLAP cubes are prevalent, so there doesn’t appear to be a shortage for this particular skill set. On the other hand, some ISVs have produced fully built, configurable SQL server data warehouses, which were traditionally developed in-house. Data warehouses can store more than just financial data – and replication of your information to a warehouse can be as simple as the push of a button or something more regular. Reporting from a BI data store provides a higher performance because you’re avoiding the possibility of users querying data in substantial, sometimes simultaneous sets, which can slow down the Intacct server. Regarding ISV tools and how they fit into the realm of data management, third party manufacturers are providing the business user friendly, powerful, and efficient collaboration that consumers have requested.
You have a lot of software solution options nowadays, and I didn’t even get into listing ISV tools, but I do hope that you have come to understand how and why BI software can expand your Intacct experience. It will be vital to identify which particular features and functions are important to your team and to research which tools will make your BI tasks more impactful and streamlined. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and collaboration as a way to accelerate company performance management beyond Intacct.