Excel, Web, and Mobile Reporting for Microsoft Dynamics NAV

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When it comes to financial reporting for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the most practical element to look for to meet company needs, besides ease of use, is flexibility.  This article will explore and discuss the most important features to look for in a modern financial reporting solution for your Dynamics NAV experience.

As the marketplace settles into a new normal as both increasingly more global and consumer-driven, flexibility becomes extremely valuable.  When I say flexibility, I’m referring to accessibility and mobility of your company data that you use to make informed decisions about developing your business for future success and brand growth.  In addition to Microsoft’s own efforts, independent software vendors (ISVs) are striving to provide NAV customers with superior reporting capabilities, therefore also understanding the need to access the information that moves a company forward.  This direct experience and understanding has driven some third party software manufacturers to produce financial reporting tools with a focus on flexible accessibility for Dynamics NAV users.

Third party products are accelerating business intelligence (BI) processes beyond Dynamics NAV by offering personalized, best-of-breed financial reporting capabilities.  In the context of flexibility, the best ISV solutions provide options.  Surely, you can easily think of a time when you have been in a client’s lobby, a hotel room, or the back of a taxi, and you need to check in on your company’s performance and financial health, with real-time data analysis.  Lots of companies are still relying on the traditional on-premises, client-server BI tools, restricting access to being in the office or a sluggish remote connection.  This is just not an effective or realistic “solution” these days for most corporate decision makers.  What is?

When you think about the investment of implementing financial reporting software for your Dynamics NAV experience – the time and energy of research, demos, and of course, the cost, does your body language and mood change for the worse?  For most professionals I talk to about shopping for a reporting tool, the responsibility seems like a nuisance especially considering the regular list of responsibilities; it can be a long, tedious process.  That all said, it becomes even more important to select the best tool, so you can create financial reports with a modern, dynamic solution with flexibility at the forefront.  Things you should consider when looking for flexibility in a reporting tool:

  • the option to run live from Dynamics NAV and/or integrate data from a data storage unit (i.e. an OLAP cube or a fully built, customizable data warehouse)
  • the familiarity and power of a 3rd generation Excel add-in tool that also offers sub ledger reporting
  • the accessibility of web-based BI, with formatting and functionality powered by or similar to Excel
  • mobile reporting, with quick and easy access to your company’s financials, operational reports, and KPIs through an application for your tablet and smartphone
  • positioning within a fully integrated, comprehensive suite of BI modules that synergize BI data analysis processes

There are lot of report writers that are going to integrate data via exclusively one method, whether it be live from Dynamics NAV; or from an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or a data warehouse.  However, there are a few products that will allow you to choose which method works best for you for any data query you perform.  Generally, smaller companies with less Dynamics NAV users with smaller queries for data go the live integration route, and those organizations that need a higher performance data integration without slowing down the NAV server tend to benefit from relying on a data storage source integration.  But let’s say that your company is in the mid-market now and building some momentum, seeing client lists hit landmarks with additional visible growth on the horizon.  If you want to avoid going into the trenches of software shopping for your BI analysis any time soon to accommodate growth, you should know that there are products that offer you both options for your flexibility in access.

Meanwhile, the platform you create and run reports on should be easy to use for your team.  Microsoft’s ubiquitous spreadsheet program, Excel, is a tool most financial professionals around the globe have been using since college.  If you want to show your team you appreciate the effort and learning curve required to acclimate to new software, invest in a product that is a third generation Excel add-in tool and avoid the proprietary interfaces.  Modern Excel-powered reporting add-in software invites users into the product with the familiarity of formulas and formatting, while enhancing the program with sub ledger reporting and accounting logic that streamlines and simplifies the coding and designing process.   But don’t stop there.

Products that provide the hybrid experience of Excel familiarity and web staging are the epitome of flexibility.  The business world is definitely going in the direction of the web, specifically Cloud computing.  And why shouldn’t it?  We’re on the move all the time, but work does not pause as we wait at our gate at an airport, at the train station, or in our foreign hotel room.   Furthermore, there are products that make the move between on-premises Excel and web BI an exhibit of seamless flexibility.  Think about the present and future of your company as professionals more frequently work remotely and yet, still have a cubicle in the office.  Access to company data should be anywhere there’s an internet connection – and a few products offer the realistic flexibility of needing both access platforms.  Sometimes, we’re only armed with our mobile devices, but urgent tasks and deadlines arise anyway.

Mobile reporting is an important evolution in the business world.  As we rarely go anywhere without our mobile devices, whether a smartphone and/or a tablet, why shouldn’t you and your team have access to company data at the click of a mobile application?  And you can.  While it is a relatively new development in the BI realm, you can access financial data, KPIs, and operational reports anywhere that you have your smartphone, but not every product is offering this flexibility.  Some do not even have fully integrated, comprehensive BI suites.

Maybe you just need a reporting solution right now, so you narrow your search to stand-alone financial report writers.  As your company continues to grow, because of the informed decisions executives made from the data-driven reports, your team realizes that performing manual Excel budgets is just not manageable anymore.  Unfortunately, your decision to go with a stand-alone product means that you are either going to have to piece together a BI toolbox from different vendors (as well as consultant, partners, support teams) or you end up replacing the reporting tool for one that is positioned within a comprehensive suite of reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and a data warehouse.  The best plan of action is to think ahead and plan for the successful company you intend to be, especially since all of these investments are about alignment for your team.

While searching for the right reporting tool for your Dynamics NAV experience can be a complex process, it is an important 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 Dynamic NAV.