Hanna Kim
How to Prepare for Your First Data Warehouse Implementation

This article will focus on the process of preparing for a successful data warehouse implementation.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Image taken from Shutterstock.

Data warehousing is an analyst’s dream. Why? All the metrics about the company’s activities is gathered in one place. Well, how do you make that dream a reality? First, you have to prepare for your data warehouse implementation. Many software implementations can be challenging, and only a few organizations today achieve successful software implementations on their first try. In this article, we will discuss preparing for a successful DW implementation. Continue reading

Nils Rasmussen
Top Reasons Why Most Companies Are Far From Business Intelligence Nirvana


What happened to the vision of the easy, self-service, one-stop shop business intelligence (BI) capabilities that countless companies across the world have been seeking? After years of investing in new ERP systems, including cloud-based solutions, home-grown data warehouses and even sexy, new dashboard tools, the vast majority of companies are far from BI Nirvana.

The sad truth is that most organizations I talk to have 5 to 7 different reporting tools between their ERP solution, CRM, Payroll, Web site data and other systems. It does not make it better that more than 90% of them do all- or a majority of their budgeting and forecasting processes in manual Excel sheets. Oh, and then the sales team or certain other departments have sometimes implemented an analytics tool to provide them with dashboards and easy ad-hoc analysis. This will often fix short term pain, but it will not take you to BI Nirvana. In some organizations, the IT department has spent a year or more to build a so-called “enterprise data warehouse”, often with only some of their data sources included, such as General Ledger data and Sales data, and most of the time with IT-dependent report writers, OLAP cubes or pivot tables as the only means of reporting on the data.

companiesfarfrombinirvanaSo, what is the status of companies’ BI capabilities as of today? The bad news is that it is far from the BI Nirvana that managers have been dreaming about for years now after watching slick demos from one BI software vendor after another. But, the good news is that things are getting better. You only need to step back and compare your BI capabilities today with what they may have been in 2005, 1995 or, if you were even around in….1985. Chances are that your information workers now have more and better reporting tools available to them. Of course, today you have more data sources than ever, and market dynamics change faster than at any time in history. So, somewhere along the way, business users took matters into their own hands and the result was that…..Excel became the world’s most popular report writer and budgeting solution. But, although Excel is quite user friendly, extremely flexible and familiar to almost every business user on the planet, it was never meant to be an enterprise-wide BI tool. So, how do one get to this utopian place called BI Nirvana? You might need “a little help from my friends” as Joe Cocker sang in his popular rendition of the original Beatles song. In other words, do your homework, talk to your friends both inside and outside your company and educate yourself. Although every organization should stake out their own BI journey based on their needs, available data sources, internal talent, platform strategies (i.e. database type, cloud versus on premise, etc.) and more, a few things seem to fall into a common formula for BI success:

1) Strive for a single BI solution that covers all or most of these: Reporting (financial and operational), budgeting and forecasting, dashboards/analysis and data warehousing. If some key functionality is not covered by the BI suite you select, then make sure it integrates directly with a powerful 3rd party add-on for whatever functionality is missing in the suite. The last thing you need are more reporting tools in your company….so make sure the BI suite eliminates or reduces the need for your other tools.

2) Don’t ignore the power, flexibility and familiarity of Excel. But it should not be a manual Excel model, it should be an Excel add-in that allows you to build reports and input forms that dynamically retrieves and even saves data to a database. Oh, and it should be web-enabled or be able to convert the Excel templates to dynamic, browser-based templates for easy end-user access.

3) Repeat after me: “I promise not to implement more proprietary BI tools with unfamiliar user interfaces and that also may require all my end users to install client software or use Terminal Server or Citrix to access a remote desktop”. Using cloud, hosted or on premise architecture is not the most critical question. What you need to empower your growing number of end users that are seeking BI Nirvana is a single, self-service, web-based BI portal where each user can run reports and drill down to answer their questions without bothering IT or the accounting department, they can enter their budgets and they can discover trends and answer Who? Where? What? questions in interactive dashboards.

4) Finally, and this is a no-brainer….your BI capabilities are only as good as the data available in your BI suite. So, if you don’t have a well-functioning data warehouse yet to give you that sought-after, single version of the truth, start planning for one. You are going to need it if you want to get to BI Nirvana. It is an exciting road ahead for organizations seeking a competitive edge through BI excellence, even if you meet a few bumps along the way. Vendors like Solver with its BI360 solution as well as several other software providers with modern BI suites are continuously investing to help companies’ BI visions come true. Good luck on your journey!

Karen Barak
Making the Most of Focus 2016—Best Things to Do at THE BI360 Conference of the Year

In just a few weeks, from August 22 – 25, 2016, the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines in San Diego, CA will become the focal point where hundreds of BI360 Partners and Customers will gather to learn about one of the top full service business intelligence suites and corporate performance management (CPM) products on the market.

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.

LAJOLLA

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
The Benefits of Automated Payroll Budgeting (Budgeting Series)

This article discusses the significance of automated payroll budgeting.

automatedpayrollbudgeting

Ever wonder how your company handles payroll planning? I do. It is important to know how your organization budgets payroll because it is typically large part of your company’s master budget. Payroll can be a complicated process for employers. To get a better understanding, let’s define what payroll is. According to Investopedia, Payroll is the “sum total of all compensation a business must pay to its employees for a set period of time or on a given date. It is usually operated by the accounting department of a business. Payroll can also refer to the list of employees of a business and the amount of compensation due to each of them.” Payroll automation refers to the use of computers to produce paychecks and manage payments for an organization. Payroll automation is often integrated into the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that gives a thorough view of the finances of the company. This article is the fourth installment of our series on budgeting: Automated Payroll Budgeting.

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
Excel-based Budgeting Tools versus Web-based Budgeting Tools (Budgeting Series)

This article focuses on the difference between Excel-based and Web-based budgeting tools.

Choosing the right budgeting tool is extremely important for a growing company. Many financial companies use homegrown Microsoft Excel models extensively in their budgeting, but there are some limitations that are inherent in the application. I admit Excel is a great tool for modeling and analysis, but it is not the best tool to use for budgeting. Software companies are developing commercial budgeting tools that are Excel-based and Web-based to stay familiar with the features and functionalities that most professionals are accustomed to. In this article, we will explore the advantages and the drawbacks of both Excel-based and Web-based budgeting tools that organizations experience. This article is the third installment of our series on budgeting: Excel-based Budgeting Tools Versus Web-based Budgeting Tools.

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
Live ERP Budgeting, What Is It?

This article will touch on the basics of budgeting with your ERP system.

ERPBudgetingBI360

The process of investing in a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can be a daunting task. Where do you start? Do you find reviews online and hope they are in line with your company’s needs and goals? Let me break it down for you. We’ll explore the basics of ERP from software pricing to ERP utilization with third party budgeting solutions.

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
Budget Consolidation in Multi-Entity Organizations (Budgeting Series)

This article focuses on consolidating finances from multi-entity companies.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Nobody likes growing pains, but every company wants to grow. Growing pains are symptoms that an organization needs to make a transition. It is the nature of business. There is a way to alleviate these pains through automated consolidation of your company’s budget. Budget consolidation, just like financial consolidations, is growing in significance because of reasons such as globalization and the popularity of acquisitions and mergers. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for a mid-sized organization to own many legal entities in different locations. Although a business’ budget consolidation requirements may not be that complicated, creating a set of consolidated accounts can be time consuming and prone to many errors if done in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. There are many financial consolidation tools and solutions that can also automate the consolidation of your budgets and they can replace or improve existing processes and systems. This article is the second installment of our series on budgeting: Budget Consolidation in Multi-Entity Organizations.

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
Best Budgeting Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP Users Replacing Forecaster

This article will focus on Forecaster and the options for investing in a new budgeting tool.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Have you been using Forecaster to budget your finances? Microsoft recently made the announcement that Forecaster will not be available or supported for new Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 customers. There are around 48,000 GP customers of out of 200,000 Dynamics ERP users, and around 2,000 organizations are using Forecaster in their budgeting procedures. Therefore, companies who have used Forecaster as a budgeting tool are looking for an alternative.

Continue reading

Karen Barak
Listen and Learn from Your Peers and Enjoy the Resort at Focus 2016

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:

Continue reading

Hanna Kim
Budgeting Software with Automatic Spreading (Budgeting Series)

This article focuses on budgeting software, specifically zooming in on the automatic spreading functionality.

Budgeting with Automatic Spreading

Budgeting software is one of the most fundamental and critical tools for managing your money. Think about all of the time and energy your company allocates to budgeting. I think about my recent car investment and all of the costs that come with it, including car insurance. I feel extremely overwhelmed just thinking about it, but knowing that there is a simple solution to budgeting calms my anxiety. Do you feel overwhelmed at work? You may feel like this if you are punching in your budget data manually. If you are working toward a financial goal or you are working with limited money, finding an easy way to budget will benefit you at both a personal and organizational level. In this article, we will be covering the first topic of our budgeting series where I will be focusing on an important budgeting need that a budgeting software can solve with corresponding features such as automatic spreading.

Continue reading