The modern business world moves at such a pace that it is imperative that our tools be accessible and flexible for our analytical processes. Mobile applications are just one example of how independent software vendors (ISVs) are delivering Business Intelligence (BI) tools that speak to consumer needs for financial reporting, data management, and analytics for Sage 100 users. Today, you should be investing in BI technology that is nothing short of the flexibility you require, in terms of how you get to your transactional and operational information for more streamlined, smarter decision-making, regardless of where you are working. Third party software vendors are bringing flexible BI solutions to market for an upgraded, modern end user experience.
ISV tools are expanding Sage 100 features and functions by offering best-of-breed reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and data warehousing. Furthermore, today’s BI software is giving the business end user some options. We can all relate to being out of the office when you need access to company information – and sometimes, it’s urgent. If you’re still relying on an on-premises BI tool, you’re not alone, but you understand that being in the office or depending on often shaky remote access software, like Citrix, VPN, or Terminal Server, can be restricting. If you’re ready for an upgrade, you can achieve that with more modern, accessible software. Let’s discuss your options.
When shopping for a BI solution that upgrades your processes to meet goals, there are a few elements to consider. First, evaluate which data integration option best serves your team: do you need a live integration, so you can achieve real-time analyses from Sage 100 – or can you integrate from a BI data store, like a data warehouse or an OLAP cube? Do you require both? Next, think about the platform. Would your team prefer an Excel add-in that takes the familiarity of the spreadsheet program and adds in BI functionality, which would expedite the time required to learn the tool? You might want to go with a web-based software so you can access data from anywhere with an internet connection. Fortunately, some applications are Excel-powered and hosted on the web when it comes to report design. Relatedly, mobile apps continue to show up in the marketplace, allowing you to access financial statements, dashboards, and KPIs from your mobile device. You should also look at software that is part of a complete suite of fully integrated BI tools that can streamline your BI processes.
Modern BI software solutions usually integrate either directly from Sage 100 for up-to-the-minute financial reports and dashboards or by relying on an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or a data warehouse. With flexibility being so important in today’s business world, why deploy technology that only integrates one way? Some tools allow you to pick how you want to pull data for a specific process. If you’re a smaller team with fewer users and smaller data pulls, a live integration from Sage 100 will likely be adequate. If you’re a larger organization with more than one user sometimes simultaneously pulling data and slowing down the Sage 100 server, you would benefit from a high performing BI data store. It also doesn’t hurt to plan ahead. If you’re planning to grow enough that you have to consider a breadth of new logistical hurdles, you should choose technology that can accommodate your success. The best tools will provide flexibility in the form of hybridity.
Flexibility is also a synonym to business user friendliness in this context of technology. Because Excel is firmly entrenched in business worldwide, tools that are powered by the spreadsheet tool enable Excel power users to have a head start, thanks to the familiarity of formulas, formatting, and coding – which you don’t get in a proprietary platform. The best Excel-powered reporting and planning tools upgrade the program with dynamic accounting and business logic and sub-ledger analyses for simpler design and richer results. There are additional feature and functionality offerings you should be weighing when looking at the ease of use you want and sometimes, require from modern BI solutions.
Some BI solutions of today bring together Excel’s familiarity and web/mobile flexibility into one tool. Cloud and web-based solutions become more popular by the day, and BI tools are following that trend. Strategy and deadlines do not wait for you to get back to the office, so BI tools that give you access to your data on the web, preferably powered by Excel when it comes to formatting, should be at the top of your list. When you’re identifying your team’s particular BI needs, don’t ignore that you probably have staff that already telecommutes, some who will work remotely in the future, and then there are those who will still be on-premises every day. Your team should have access to, manage, and analyze financials from anywhere they can connect to the internet, and more options continue to emerge, including mobile apps.
Cloud- and web-based tools might be the star of the BI show these days, but increasingly, mobile devices extend the analytical experience for Sage 100. Since most are constantly carrying a smartphone, it follows that BI analyses would find their way onto mobile devices. Since mobile BI is relatively new, not every ISV offers a mobile app. Another rare offering: a comprehensive BI suite of completely integrated tools.
Maybe you’re focused on upgrading your GL-exclusive financial reporting for Sage 100, but don’t forget to look ahead by only shopping stand-alone reporting tools. If your roadmap includes organizational growth, you should evaluate BI suites that also offer budgeting, dashboards, and/or a BI data store. If you go with a stand-alone report writer now, you might have to piece together tools from different software vendors, which means multiple consultants and support teams – or you will have to replace the stand-alone reporting solution with one that is positioned within a BI suite. You have plenty to consider, but Solver is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel 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 Sage 100.