Excel, Web, and Mobile Reporting for SAP Business One

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This article will examine and discuss your financial reporting options for your SAP Business One experience with a focus on the key feature to seek: flexibility.

Flexibility is the buzzword when it comes to approaching the increasingly more consumer-driven and global marketplace.  Flexibility, in the context of data management, refers to your ability to access your company data, which you rely on to make sound decisions about the future of your company, on the go.   Beyond SAP’s own strides, third party Business Intelligence (BI) vendors are competing to offer B1 users ultra-modern, easy-to-use financial reporting functionality, which now more than ever includes the necessity to access information anywhere the job takes them.  Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) have excelled at identifying this consumer demand and have produced with flexibility in mind for SAP B1 customers.

ISV products are offering opportunities for SAP B1 users to transcend and enhance their BI processes with customizable, best-of-breed financial report writers.  When it comes to flexibility, the leading third party tools offer options.  I’m sure it is not difficult to think of a time when you or a colleague has had to work in a coffee shop, an airport terminal, or even in a client’s boardroom, specifically needing access to real-time data to evaluate the next move.  Plenty of organizations still depend on the customary client-server, on-premises BI solutions, which requires that you be in the office or deal with a potentially slow remote connection to access company financials or operational data.  This method of workflow cannot meet your modern corporate experience – at least, for long.  But then, what can?

When talking to most professionals about the shopping process for a reporting tool, the annoyance nearly manifests itself through body language.  It can be a frustrating task that isn’t even on your typical list of things to do.  However, it going to be a big investment, even if it is an affordable solution, so it is that much more important to use your time and energy wisely to select the right report writer that emphasizes flexibility.

There are several things to consider when seeking the flexibility you need.  You should evaluate whether you can run live from SAP B1 and/or integrate data from a BI data store.  Seek an option that offers the powerful and flexible familiarity of an Excel add-in tool that allows you to report beyond the GL.  One of the most essential considerations involve a web accessible solution that still offers the user the flexibility and formatting familiarity of Excel.  Nowadays, you can look for the mobility of reporting on your smartphone or tablet with an application that offers you access to company financials, operational reports, and KPIs.  Finally, you want to consider the benefits of a product that is positioned with a complete and fully integrated BI suite for synergy in your data management and analysis.

There are several reporting solutions that integrate information using only one methodology, either live from SAP B1; or from a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube.  But there are also a few solutions that allow users to choose between both – and use them for particular data queries, based on your need.  Smaller organization with fewer SAP B1 users and/or smaller data queries usually go with live integrations.  Companies that have to have a higher performance integration without bogging down the B1 server often benefit from going the data store integration route.  If you consider flexibility in envisioning the future that you want for your company, you might want to select a product that offers you the flexibility of both options.

At the same time, how you craft and run your reports should be business user friendly – for the morale of your team.  If you think about a tool that most finance teams find easy to use around the world, Excel should come to mind – due to its ubiquity and related familiarity.  Knowing how powerful a familiar tool for a team having to implement a new solution is, you would benefit greatly from finding a third generation Excel add-in report writer, and stay away from proprietary platforms.  Today’s Excel-charged reporting tools allows users to hit the ground running with the familiarity of coding, while accelerating the reporting process with sub ledger reporting and dynamic accounting logic that simplifies the formatting.  And you don’t have to stop there.

Hybrid solutions are epitomizing flexibility with both Excel formatting and staging on the web.  Business professionals are largely going to the web, also known as Cloud computing, for their data management and analysis needs. And why not? We’re on the go more often today, and work does not pause.  Moreover, there are tools that can shift between web BI and on-premises Excel seamlessly.  If you consider your team members who work remotely, but still need cubicle real estate when they are in the office, flexible access platforms to company information anywhere you have an internet connection is pretty valuable.  Some products provide the modern versatility of both access options.  And furthermore, sometimes we only have our smart phone or a tablet, but we’re expected to meet an urgent deadline anyway.

Mobile financial reporting is the newest development in the BI realm.  We nearly have our mobile devices with us every minute of the day, smart phones and/or tablets, so why not evolve financial reporting into an application that can be opened on our touch screens?  Now you can.  By opening an app, you can reach your financials, KPIs, and operational reports anywhere you carry your mobile devices, but not every vendor has built an app for financial reporting yet.  Some aren’t even providing fully integrated, complete BI suites.

Flexibility can be built into your search, even if you are currently just looking for a financial reporting tool for SAP B1.  If your company continues to grow as you achieve goals using data to drive your decision-making, you might then need a higher performing budgeting solution.  If you invest in a stand-alone tool now, you will then have to either patch together a set of BI tools from different vendors, including the consultants, partners, and support teams associated with each, OR you have to replace the original report writer for one that is positioned within a fully integrated, complete suite reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and a data store.  If you think ahead and invest wisely, you are truly putting flexibility first for the success of your evolving workflow.

While shopping for the best report writer for your SAP B1 experience can be a tedious investment, it is a significant one.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile platforms for real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis and collaboration, with the option of email distribution of reports, as the best report writer for SAP B1.