This past November, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft Dynamics 365. Combining the Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) offerings in one unified cloud-hosted solution, there are two versions of Microsoft Dynamics 365. The lower end version of the product is called the Business Edition and is based on Dynamics NAV as a framework. The Enterprise Edition is the higher end version, which is based on Dynamics AX and created for larger corporations in the top of the marketplace. Both are hosted by Microsoft and deployed in the Azure cloud. In this article, we will explore what you should look for in a financial reporting tool for your organization to use with Dynamics 365, Enterprise Edition.
Data integrations have always been the connective tissue for financial reporting and the variety of data types businesses rely on to understand the health of their organization. And in this cloud era, they’re arguably even more important. Do you require real-time analyses that you often accomplish directly through Dynamics 365, or is your team looking for more robust financial reporting functionality, which means loading Dynamics 365 data into a cloud Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution that offers a professional grade report writer?
With the built-in Dynamics 365 financial reporting, Management Reporter (MR), any user can pull information directly from Dynamics 365 without having to replicate financials to a separate cloud reporting solution – and you can get near real-time financial statements, although MR does not report on sub-ledger data. While a CPM cloud reporting tool means your organization will be making an additional investment, some offerings have the additional benefit of housing multiple data types from a variety of sources in a singular space and thus enable sharper management reports without having to move between different reporting tools. With the management of a cloud tool outsourced and the scalability of the solution being a big selling point, you’re able to hit the ground running with simple, quick, and digestible analytics. A great example of a modern cloud reporting tool that can pull information from numerous data sources is Solver’s BI360 Cloud, which delivers rich reporting and consolidations with all of your company data from Dynamics 365 and other important data sources. When considering which tool to implement, you will have to explore platform options.
In regard to your software platform options, the choices have more recently evolved. Excel is still a bona fide staple, but web and cloud are becoming increasingly more prevalent, as well as proprietary platforms still proving to be a force on the market. You need to consider whether your team would like to work within the familiarity and flexibility of Excel for report design, the accessibility of web- and/or cloud-based tools, or both. There are a few solutions offering web-based, Excel-powered financial reporting, bringing together the popular spreadsheet application’s formulas and coding with the accessibility of running reports in a web portal from anywhere with an internet connection. There are also proprietary products that deliver their own platform with their own (non-Excel) features, formatting, formulas, and functionality that most are familiar with, but one of these tools could be precisely what your corporation needs in terms of analytics goals.
With Dynamics 365, features and functionality like report navigation, multi-language accessibility, parameters usage, and report content formatting are available to choose how you display your reports. But with native reporting tools built into the ERP system, there are also weaknesses, like the challenges involved in running consolidated reports across companies, often with different chart of accounts, different year-ends, or even different ERPs. This is just one area where stand-alone cloud report writers with pre-built integrations to Dynamics 365, such as BI360 Cloud, can serve as a true solution.
Organizations of all sizes, but perhaps especially in the upper end of the market, require robust financial reporting to remain competitive in the marketplace without any surprises or disruptions. As you shop around for CPM solutions, you will find the on-premises, cloud-based, and hybrid options. Today’s true cloud platform options include Adaptive Insights, Anaplan, Host Analytics, and Solver’s BI360. Solver, like Dynamics 365, uses Microsoft Azure as its cloud platform, while the three other vendors have chosen other cloud platforms. If you are skeptical about migrating exclusively to the cloud, you can choose to keep certain enterprise technologies on-premises if you would like, but do not forget to look ahead with your roadmap. You can also dive deeper into the opportunities and challenges of cloud and on-premises solutions in this article: Business Intelligence: Cloud-based, One-premises, or Both? Research has shown that transitioning to the cloud helps lower costs, gain flexibility, increase productivity, and distribute the right intel to the right people at the right time, so organizations can make richly informed decisions for their business.
The BI and CPM marketplace for Microsoft customers changed once Dynamics 365 launched. Vendors are working to integrate their cloud reporting and budgeting solutions, so Dynamics customers can have impactful options for robust reporting and planning. The cloud landscape will continue to evolve, and as it does, cloud reporting solutions will also change and improve. If your current system is not delivering the insight need to make the smartest business decision, it’s time to make a better investment – in a true reporting solution. Modern BI and CPM offerings are self-service in that end users can access and make sense of data without waiting for help from the IT team. That said, the IT team is a great resource and partner in making sure your various applications can integrate seamlessly to maximize productivity and data quality. You can learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 here, and Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s cloud-hosted, easy-to-use Excel and web reporting with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and dashboards as a way to accelerate company performance management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 as well as your other business applications.