Cloud Business Intelligence Solutions for Acumatica

This article explores financial reporting and budgeting options in the cloud for your Acumatica Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

In today’s business world, our processes and technology platforms require accessibility and flexibility, and more solutions are showing up on the cloud market. Since data sources and data in general continues to expand in size and can increasingly be found across cloud and on-premise locations, more executives are looking for the right Business Intelligence (BI) solution to empower business end users to make better and smarter business decisions. In this article, we will discuss several business intelligence options for your Acumatica ERP system that will cover deployment options, sophisticated functionalities, and hopefully, answers to any questions you may have regarding BI add-ons.

Let me give you a quick background on Acumatica. As mentioned above, Acumatica is a cloud ERP that also allows on-premises installation. Acumatica comes with good native reporting options and has an integration to Microsoft Power BI. Power BI is a powerful visualization tool with services and features that enable users to find and visualize data in a compelling way, share discoveries, and collaborate in intuitive new ways. According to research done in 2015 by RightScale Inc., 93% of businesses already use cloud technology in some form or another. As a Cloud ERP vendor, Acumatica is a leader in this business culture shift. If you are searching for a more sophisticated financial reporting, consolidations and budgeting, you have several deployment options.

Are most of your systems on-premises or on the cloud? Third party BI solutions have been expanding Acumatica functionality for a while now by delivering best-of-breed financial reporting and budgeting , as well as data warehouse solutions. There are important aspects to think about when investing in a BI software that will accommodate your company’s current and long term goals. World-class reporting and consolidation tools that are cloud or web-based platforms include Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics, BI360, among others. Of these, Adaptive Insights and Host Analytics are pure cloud solutions, and just like Acumatica, BI360 can be hosted on-premises or by a cloud service provider.

If you’re having a difficult time differentiating the two types of tools (Cloud or on-premises), find more information in this article on What Does my Company Do with Reporting and Budgeting When Dynamics GP is Moving to the Cloud. You can also find more information on the advantages and disadvantages of both options in this Business Intelligence: Cloud-based, On-premises, or Both? article, so that you can navigate to a decision a little easier.

There are several reasons, including the deployment options I’ve mention above, why you would want to look at a BI add-on for Acumatica. The first reason is that, in terms of budgeting and forecasting, there are-, like in most modern ERP systems, some core budgeting functionalities in Acumatica, but most customers may be looking for more sophisticated features, such as budgeting workflow, customizable budget input forms, rolling forecast, cash flow forecast, among others. Functionality is a great reason to look into a third party add-on. Another reason is that customers may have other historical data residing outside of their Acumatica ERP system – from systems such as third party payroll systems, membership systems, loan management systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce or Microsoft CRM. Having data outside of Acumatica might require users to invest in a data warehouse (DW) that will combine data from all sources. Your integration options will be either to pull data directly from Acumatica for real-time analyses or to load data from Acumatica and other transaction sources and into  a DW. You would add a third party BI solution to Acumatica if you are looking for a more customizable financial reporting and budgeting tool.

 

There are numerous reporting solutions that have features that are accessible and flexible. For instance, these solutions offer Excel add-ins as well as a web portal that is packed with reports and dashboards relevant to a particular user, so that he or she can rapidly get to subscribed reports, commentary, discussions, polls, and groups. One of the greatest benefits of a modern web-based BI portal is that it usually offers an intuitive, collaborative technology where a user can personalize a newsfeed that will pull and combine commentary discussion based on particular tags, like “travel expenses” or “budget feedback” as examples. Users can promptly pull reports instantly for execution or make comments, as well as share links to specific reports with their colleagues. These collaboration functionalities are not only user-friendly, but also fresh and modern with social networking features and functionalities.

As companies are moving to the cloud, the cloud is also moving and evolving continuously, and its usage is rising drastically. As cloud reporting and budgeting solutions continue to get smarter, it’s likely that hybrid models will appear in the BI marketplace, combining both cloud and on-premises data sources, just like your Acumatica ERP system. If you decide on a cloud-based Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution, you could still choose to keep certain functions on premise. Please keep in mind that properly implemented cloud BI often  has as a great return on investment. Cloud helps solve problems such as gaining accessibility, increasing productivity, lowering IT costs, all while delivering the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make smarter business choices. I advise you to review BI tools that are accessible, easy-to-use and flexible for you and your team. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer your 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 Acumatica.

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