Matthew Felzke
Coming Back from Microsoft Dynamics User Group Summit 2017: Fixin’ to Hit the Trail Running

This article recaps the countrifried Microsoft Dynamics User Groups Summit in Nashville October 10-13, 2017. Continue reading

Alex Geller
My Prediction: Convergence between Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management Vendors in the Mid-Market

This article will focus on the demand for convergence of Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management tools and why this benefits mid-market companies.

Image taken from Gartner.

The latest release of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence strengthened my conviction that the market will see consolidation between the Business Intelligence/Visualization (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) vendors. Gartner classifies them in separate quadrants because the respective tools are evaluated differently during the sales process. Furthermore, BI tools usually sell into marketing and sales teams while CPM targets finance and accounting professionals. Consequently, there has been limited Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) in the space. Note that this article assumes readers are familiar with the basic definitions to focus on a narrative explaining the demand for their convergence.

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Hanna Kim
The Benefits of Dashboards in Your Month-end Financial Presentations

This article focuses on using dashboards in monthly financial presentations for stronger decision-making.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Graphics are everywhere. They are literally everywhere we go, filling our kitchen pantries and even the clothes we wear. Red Crow Marketing Inc. mentions that “digital marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day.” If we’re drawn to visuals, doesn’t it make sense to apply visuals to your financial reports and presentations? Think about receiving multiple pages of spreadsheets full of data. Is this how you best extract your financial analysis at the end of every month? This is where a dashboard comes in handy. Dashboards are defined as charts, graphs, and scorecards that convey data trends, successes, and problem areas with key performance indicators (KPIs), whether you are looking at a store, region, product, and a corporate department in particular, or the entire organization. A dashboard presents key data from various financial and operational sources on a single page, and uses graphs and tables to summarize a large amount of data. In this article, Solver Controller Gina Louie will talk about her experiences in presenting month-end financial presentations to the management team.

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Hanna Kim
The Power of Good Drill-Down in Dynamics NAV Reports

This article focuses on the importance of the drill-down function in your reporting tool.

gooddrill-downHave you looked at the summary page on your bank statement and not been able to recall a transaction you made? Or has your department made a large transaction and nobody in your team was able to figure out what the company’s money was spent on? This is where a drill-down feature in your reporting will benefit you. A drill-down is a feature that can be found in your reporting tool, and it allows the end user to see details of the transactions the user is reporting from. If you are relying on Microsoft Dynamics NAV for your business, this article will focus on what you need to know regarding drill-down features to expand your reporting processes. Continue reading

Matthew Felzke
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 3

At the end of 2016, we sat down with CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate to discuss 20 impactful years of being a leader in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry. This is the final segment in the series, where the executive team members discuss what differentiates BI360 and what they would like to be known for in 20 years.

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Hanna Kim
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 2

Before the holidays, we sat down with CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate to discuss 20 impactful years of being a leader in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry. This is the second in a series, where the executive team members discuss the future of Solver and BI360 in terms of product innovation, customer and partner relationships, and the organization as a whole.


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Matthew Felzke
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 1

I recently sat down with the leadership team at Solver to discuss the 20th anniversary of launching the organization.  The following is the first in a series, where they talk about how the organization came about, where they have gone and been, why they launched BI360 and more, as they move toward a cloud deployment option in 2017.  CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate all chimed in about the successes and challenges that they have faced – and what they are most proud of on this anniversary.

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Hanna Kim
Microsoft Dynamics 365 has Accelerated the Cloud ERP Revolution, but What About Your Reporting and Budgeting Needs?

This article discusses next steps to take for your reporting and budgeting needs regarding Dynamics 365.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

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.

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Hanna Kim
The Importance of Business Intelligence for All Companies and how it Impacts the Beginning of the Year

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. Solver offers BI360, a web-based dashboard as well as reporting, budgeting, and a data warehouse, stand-alone or as a comprehensive suite of BI modules, and would be happy to answer questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use solution that enables collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI needs.

Tina Lee
The Importance of BI360 Training

IMG_0960The 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!

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