This article will go about explaining the impact of data warehousing for Sage 300, so that you and your team can get a head start figuring out the best modern solution for your company.

Since data is such an important topic in the world of business, it makes sense that data warehouses are going to be prominent by association.  However, questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how rapidly start to pile up for most of us because firstly, what do data warehouses even look like?  Are they tangible, physical items where you can store files, like an external hard drive?  Who maintains them?   When should we be investing in a data warehouse?  Where are they hosted?  Why do we need one?  And how do we get started with our data warehouse?  For Sage 300 customers, maybe these questions have crossed your mind – and perhaps there are other confusing elements that you would like addressed before understanding whether or not you even need a data warehouse.  In this article, I will answer some of the main questions Sage 300 customers might have, so you can comprehend the key features and functionalities in order to pinpoint your team’s data warehousing needs.

Who?  Let’s begin by detailing the implementation and automation of a data warehouse.  A data warehouse solution ideally comes “out of the box” empty, meaning your Sage 300 and other source data will obviously not already be loaded.  Consultants who specialize in extract, transfer, and loading (ETL) will install your warehouse and automate the ETL of information from your data sources, like Sage 300.  Next, a consultant who concentrates on accelerating, maximizing, and simplifying reporting, planning, and/or data visualizing processes will assist you in data queries from your warehouse.  After deployment and training, the business end user can manage a data warehouse, as opposed to the IT department.
What?  Data warehouses are multi-dimensional, hi-tech databases.  If you are attempting to get a visual, let me break it down for you.  Data warehouses are databases and digital storage, staged on a server, which can be shared or its own designated platform.  Hard drives, internal or external, invite you to store multiple kinds of files, applications, and software in one space, today’s data warehouses allow you to house multiple types of operational and transactional information in one place.  Another way to look at it: data warehouses are like multiple dimensional versions of a spreadsheet in that you can organize your operations and transactions in consolidated, intuitive, and dynamic ways, with the form and functionality needed to eliminate error in an easier-to-use environment.
When?  Answering the question of when you should deploy a data warehouse is going to be different for each company, but if you’re starting to feel the wear and tear of manually documenting, as well as data management and analysis within a program like Excel, in the form of errors and declining staff morale or even costly time and money, it is likely time to invest in a data warehouse.  Also, if your Sage 300 server is slower due to multiple users querying substantial data sets at the same time, a data warehouse offers you higher performance and stability.  Another typical scenario is that your management team not only needs reporting and dashboards from Sage 300, but also from other data sources (sales system, payroll system, etc.), and you realize that it would be a lot easier to do analysis and reporting if you have a single, central database (aka Data Warehouse) that combines your different data sources
Where? Data warehouses are digital, so you won’t be physically storing anything in your server room.  Traditionally, IT professionals would develop a data warehouse as a project specifically for the company, oftentimes working for years.  Today, a new breed of data warehouses are offered commercially, as products you can purchase and configure to meet your specific company data management needs.  Modern, commercial data warehouses can be accessed and managed through a data source management application, like Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.  Solver offers their own program, as another example, aptly named BI360 Data Warehouse Manager, which is a non-technical platform for management of the data warehouse by business users, as part of the BI360 suite of BI solutions.
Why?  Answering why can be similar to answering when, but let’s take it in a different direction.  Typically, data warehouses are compared to online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes.  Several BI solutions suggest or require OLAP cubes to maintain data for analysis.  OLAP cubes are not built with a transactional SQL server database, so they require management by personnel with specific OLAP skills, like MDX query language, because of technically complex they are.  Furthermore, they zoom in on analytical information, as opposed to transactional information.  A data warehouse organizes by subject, and you can duplicate multiple kinds of data to the stable, business user friendly platform for easy management and analysis with your BI software.
How?  How is another question that can elicit a similar answer to our question of who.  That said, let’s move past who deploys, automates, and streamlines your data warehouse for best practice financial reporting, budgeting, and dashboards.  As a business end user, you can manage your modern, commercial data warehouse.  With intuitive configuration abilities, you can set up data replications to the data warehouse once or routinely – or you can simply click a button and replicate any time you want or need.  Today’s modern data warehouse software solutions are built with the concept of avoiding IT management, so that you can access, maintain, and analyze your data at any time in your day.  Moreover, they are Microsoft SQL server relational databases, organized around subjects, as in customer, product, and sales.  Because they hold multiple types of data, they are organically great platforms for cross module reporting and financial consolidations.  Finally, they stand alone, commonly without any concurrency control mechanisms, transaction processing, or recovery necessary.  They are dynamic solutions with built-in adjustment functionality, like currency conversion, data cleansing, eliminations, and data integration techniques to make data management and analytics simpler for you.
Data will continue to grow in size and importance to corporate decision-making, so data warehouses will remain relevant to the business world, especially as companies continue to enrich their reports, budgets, and dashboards with diverse types of data.  If you are seeking a consolidated platform to house your Sage 300 data, in addition to information from other data sources without having to involve the IT team, a data warehouse likely could be your solution.  Solver offers a fully built, configurable Microsoft SQL Server-based data warehouse 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 Warehouse solution that enables collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your Sage 300 experience.