This article discusses next steps to take for your reporting and budgeting needs regarding Dynamics 365.
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Microsoft unveiled their cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Dynamics 365, just a little over a month ago. As a potential business intelligence (BI) customer, you’re probably curious about your reporting and budgeting processes in the context of moving towards a cloud-based ERP system. As you know, a new United States president was elected on November 8th, and as always with a new president, people are curious or worried how things will work out. If you are one of the approximately 85% of the world still using an on-premise ERP system, this same analogy can be applied to those who are planning to go onto a cloud ERP. This article focuses on the next steps to take for your reporting and budgeting in regards to Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 unveiling.
After the Thanksgiving holiday, I sat down with Solver’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Corey Barak to talk about the importance of business intelligence (BI) for organizations. Corey is our “Chandler” from the television sitcom, Friends. Everybody admires him for his sarcastic humor, intellect, and his sound judgment. Corey manages the day-to-day operations and focuses on maximizing the service quality to our customers and partners. He has been in the BI industry for 20 years, and started his career at Solver in 1999 as a Senior Business Intelligence Consultant. Outside of Solver, he is a father of two children and a husband. As 2016 is coming to a close, I was pondering on the New Year, and the kind of impact BI may have on companies. As an author of leading BI books, including “Process Improvement for Effective Budgeting and Financial Reporting” and “BI360 Book – The Ultimate How-To Guide,” I thought Corey would be the appropriate person to pick his brain about the importance of BI for any company.
Watch the interview below or read on for the transcript of our conversation.
Kim: “Why is BI important for companies and does the beginning of the year have an impact?”
Barak: “BI is the framework for setting strategy and managing the success and failure of the strategy. Companies should create a closed-loop process where they set strategy, set the goals for the strategy, put together the budget or the forecast, and constantly review and analyze the actual vs. the budget/forecast of the goals. If changes need to be made, then the strategy or the goals may need to be modified, which starts the loop over again. It has an impact on the beginning of the year as the majority of companies are going through their budget process. If they have a fiscal year that isn’t based on a calendar year, then this would be a chance to do forecasting. They could reforecast based on the strategy. If the strategy has not been set and finalized, then it makes it impossible for managers to put together a budget that should be dependent on the strategy.”
Kim: “What are steps to start adding BI for your organization?”
Barak: “The first step is to determine what impacts your business – the revenue growth and profitability -and determine how to measure that. Some manufacturing companies may have areas around manufacturing speeds or getting things out to the market quicker. Find those Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that drive your revenue growth. If you company doesn’t know what they are, the company needs to find out what they are. If they don’t have the data to determine their KPIs, then it is time to look into a BI tool that can bring in data from disparate systems and display them in structured reports and dashboards that are quick and easy to view. Make sure you’re making progress and improving. If you’re not improving and you’re actually declining, this is where you can start reviewing your strategy as things aren’t going the way you planned. Once it is finalized, then determine if this data is easy to access or it takes time to put this together. Bring that data in, calculate the KPIs, and compare it to your budget or your forecast every month.
Kim: “What are some tips that you can share with organizations that are looking into investing in BI?”
Barak: “Find a tool that can bring your financial data and operational data together. Generally, a KPI is not going to be based on just financial data or just operational data, but a combination of the two. Determine the company’s KPIs and then determine the departmental KPIs, and create dashboards for them as well. Concentrate on the company’s KPIs, what really impacts the entire business and then start moving to each department. Find out how to get the data and what the calculation would be for the KPIs. Next step is try to build those, practice them before you put it into the dashboards. Go manually calculate them, make sure it’s trending properly. The next step is building a dashboard. Start early in the process of implementing a BI Tool and if you have a BI Tool, then start the process of strategy and planning early. There should be regular forecasts based on potential changes to the strategy and initiatives.”
*Side note – A KPI stands for a key performance indicator, which is a business metric used to evaluate factors that are important to the success of a company. For example a KPI can be gross margin, turnover, net income, sales by salesperson, and more. There are thousands of KPIs you can use. The key is to find what is important to your company and industry.
Kim: “How does Solver use dashboards that other companies may not?”
Barak: “Solver has completely revamped our financial process. End of 2015, we decided to change the way we report our financials. In 2015 and prior, we would literally get an email with our financials and everyone looked at different values, but there was no determination of what the most important KPIs are to the executives and to managers that will grow the business to drive profitability. We rebuilt our allocation model in January 2016, so that it would take into account what was truly important and impacts our decision making. We brought in more data sources. We finally built KPI’s and dashboards for executives and then we built them for department managers. This is how we start meetings rather than looking at a financial statement. Our financial statements are backups now and used mainly if we have a question or need to drill down. Our KPI’s show comparisons to the budget/forecast and to prior years. We show 24 and 36-month trends so we know if we are trending up or trending down. We now are able to make decisions immediately because we have the data and analysis at our fingertips.”
Hopefully, this conversation is helpful for your BI needs and for your organization, no matter the size.
The importance of training is more than just the obvious. BI360 users will often say, “I don’t know how to use BI360, so let me take a training class.” Structured training is about the best way to learn how to use and become more efficient with BI360. As Solver’s Training Manager with over 15 years of training experience (two of those with our tool), I say this to everyone – never stop learning!
On November 1, Microsoft officially released not just one new version of Dynamics, but two. And there’s the element of moving away from 4 different products and toward one entity or umbrella that has two different offerings, but more importantly, Microsoft Dynamics is moving to the cloud. What does it all mean for the traditional, on premise implementations of Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, and SL? How do other Microsoft products factor into this development? What should customers know about connecting some on premise systems, like Business Intelligence applications, to Dynamics 365? I had the opportunity to have a hearty cup of coffee and conversation with Solver CEO Nils Rasmussen about this major development from Microsoft and the impact it will have on both the technology and business worlds.
Watch the interview below – or read on for the transcript of our conversation.
There’s a lot more to cloud–based business intelligence tools than easy data accessibility. This article examines why CFOs and accounting pros see cloud BI as a great return on investment.
Like a lot of productivity and management software, business intelligence (BI) tools are moving to the cloud. Why? Sure, the cloud makes BI more accessible, and deployments more manageable, just like data of every kind. Whether it’s Corporate Performance Management (CPM) or even music, you can access it via any web browser or mobile device, anywhere, anytime.
But there are other reasons why the cloud and business intelligence tools are a perfect match, especially for CFOs or accounting pros who rely on BI to boost bottom-line performance. We’re talking about solving problems such as lowering costs, gaining flexibility, and increasing productivity, all while realizing BI’s promise of delivering the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make more informed decisions. As Solver builds – and gets ready to deliver BI360 as an innovative cloud service, we continue to discover reasons why cloud is the future for Business Intelligence.
Here are 9 reasons why a cloud-based Business Intelligence Tool may be right for you.
Solver Global came together at one location last week to host its annual Focus customer and partner conference at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines hotel in sunny San Diego, California. Solver kicked off the conference with two-day intensive training classes designed for beginning and advanced users. There were valuable information-sharing sessions that attendees came to expect with additional learning and networking opportunities, including a dynamic keynote speaker. Continue reading →
Determining which sessions and activities to attend at this year’s conference can be mind-blowing, making your head spin with all of the possibilities. To help you pinpoint key sessions and things to do at the event, check out my guide to this year’s conference.
This year, Focus 2016, August 22-25, 2016, Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA gives customers more ways to share their own BI360 stories with the community. Attendees can ask questions and gain valuable tips and insights from the people who have lived through the challenges and successes of a BI360 implementation during extended Customer Showcases and Panel Discussions. Then, attendees can enjoy the amenities of the resort with their colleagues while having candid dialogs during various networking activities.
Extended Customer Showcases
In prior Focus events, Solver created 20-minute Customer Showcase presentations, giving attendees a taste of real-world experiences. This year, we’ve extended that time to 45 minutes to give presenting customers and session attendees a chance to drill down further into the details of the customer’s story, thus allowing attendees more opportunities to ask questions and gather ideas they can try in their own organizations. This year’s featured customers and their scheduled sessions are below:
Your company has put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into acquiring a budgeting and planning software system that will streamline your staff’s workload. Chances are, that even after training, you or your team has only been using a small percentage of the features or functions available in the solution.
For four days in August, dozens of BI360 product experts, hundreds of technology professionals and BI360 users will gather to impart their wisdom to help you and others like you become BI360 gurus in their own right.
This article will discuss financial and operational reporting options for Professional Services organizations using Microsoft Dynamics SL, so you can invest in the right software for your team.
In the modern business culture, perhaps especially for Professional Services organizations, a powerful, user friendly report writer is essential to staying competitive in your sector, navigating the ebbs and flows of the economy through smarter decision-making, so you’re continuing to evolve as a business and a brand. In this article, I’ll lay out some of your options for today’s quality financial and operational reporting solutions, zooming in on features and functionalities, so you can make the best investment to expand your Microsoft Dynamics SL analytics as a Professional Services organization.