Matthew Felzke
Data Warehousing for Manufacturing Companies using Dynamics AX

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This article will detail the effects of a commercial data warehouse for manufacturing and distribution organizations utilizing Microsoft Dynamics AX for their financials.

Data is the rightful buzzword for this era of business, perhaps especially for manufacturing and distribution organizations trying to meet their roadmap goals.  As data continues to grow in size and significance, data warehousing becomes a related task for modern business.  Even if you know a thing or two about data warehouses, you might have some questions or curiosities about them and how they relate to your manufacturing and/or distribution analytical processes.  Who manages a data warehouse? Are they like anything besides an OLAP cube?  At what point should a manufacturing and/or distribution corporation install one?  Cloud or on-premise?  How do we set up a data warehouse?  As a manufacturing or distribution Microsoft Dynamics AX customer, you likely have at least one of these questions.  This article will do the work of answering some of the more frequently asked questions, so you can more clearly see how data warehousing can be a solution for data management objectives with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

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Hanna Kim
Common Management Reporter Challenges and Alternatives for Microsoft Dynamics AX Users

This article will focus on alternative report writers for Dynamics AX users who share common Management Reporter (MR) issues.

MRAs a regular subscriber to several Business Intelligence (BI) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) user groups, I’ve come across common issues regarding Management Reporter (MR) for those using Dynamics AX. In today’s business world, a modern, dynamic financial reporting tool is extremely important to making smart business decisions while developing your company and brand. This article will discuss the options for investing in a new reporting tool to expand your organization’s Microsoft Dynamics AX experience.

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Hanna Kim
How to Prepare for Your First Dashboard Implementation

This article will discuss the process of preparing for a successful dashboard implementation.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

There is power in storytelling. As humans, we find purpose in moving people to do great things. We use stories to make sense of things whether it’s giving your friend advice or explaining a business concept to your coworker. Well-designed dashboards tell a meaningful story with data in the form of charts, graphs, and scorecards that exhibit trends, opportunities and challenges with key performance indicators (KPIs) for your organization. Many software implementations can be difficult, and only a few companies today achieve “perfect” software implementations on their first try. If you are reading this article because your company recently purchased a dashboard tool or if you are wanting to invest in one, don’t feel discouraged. I’m here to help. In this article, we will discuss preparing for your first dashboard implementation.

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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

Hanna Kim
Why Simple Dashboard Layouts Are Usually the Best Dashboard Layouts

This article will focus on dashboard tips and tricks that enable organizations to understand their company data better for stronger decision-making.

shutterstock_dashboards

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

All companies, no matter the size, benefit from Business Intelligence (BI). Of all BI tools, dashboards are often seen as a top priority especially to Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and other executives. According to Software Advice, a comparison site for Business Intelligence tools, dashboards, scorecards, and performance management software are priority number one for today’s financial executives. Dashboards provide quickly accessible, easily digestible analytics. It is an overview of your key information at a glance. Data Visualizations are graphs, charts, and scorecards that showcase data trends, opportunities, and challenges with key performance indicators (KPIs) for departments, projects, and/or the entire corporation. Making wise decisions is crucial for every organization because it heavily weighs on the company’s performance and condition, but just because an organization uses a dashboard, doesn’t mean it will be successful. In this article, we will focus on why a simple dashboard layout is typically the best kind of dashboard layout.

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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!

Hanna Kim
Data Warehousing for Manufacturing Companies Using Sage 100

This article will zoom in on the impact of a data warehouse solution for manufacturing companies using Sage 100.

DW for Sage 300

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Corporations use data to set and meet goals in order to stay on budget. A data warehouse is a powerful tool to organize and strengthen Business Intelligence (BI) analyses. A data warehouse (DW) is a multi-dimensional database that can store a large amount of data, collected from an array of sources within a company and utilized to guide management decisions. The information in data warehouses can be used for things such as scheduled budgeting, reporting, and dashboards or higher level performance data questions. They structure around the subject, so they focus the interaction through organizing by topic such as customer, product, or sales. As a manufacturing company using Sage 100, you may want to know the impact a data warehouse solution has for your company.

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Hanna Kim
Best Report Writers for Microsoft Dynamics Users Using Management Reporter

This article will focus on Management Reporter (MR) and the options for investing in a new reporting tool.

Management Reporter

Management Reporter (MR) is an interactive reporting application that was designed for business professionals that can use the application to create, share, maintain, and view their financial statements. Microsoft offers MR for their ERP customers as a native General Ledger (GL) report writer in Dynamics AX, GP, and SL, almost aided by the more technical reporting tool, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to solve ERP reporting problems. If you attended Microsoft’s Amplify conference in May this year, you probably have heard that MR will no longer have any major releases, but rather go into maintenance mode with only minor updates. In other words, the product is clearly heading for the sunset. Many companies who have used MR and its predecessor, FRx, are already looking for an alternative. This blog article will zoom in on the concerns regarding the impact of this change and the solutions to these concerns.

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Matthew Felzke
Data Warehousing for Professional Services with Dynamics AX

In this article, data warehouses for Professional Services organizations will take center stage, with a focus on expanding Microsoft Dynamics AX analytical processes.

Data is increasingly more important in today’s business world, perhaps especially for Professional Services organizations.  As data informs decision-making at all levels, Professional Services organizations are striving to stay on budget and on track with projects, vendors, clients, and so forth, a data warehouse can be positively impactful in supporting Business Intelligence (BI) analyses.  If you’re new to data warehousing as a solution, you might have some questions.  This article will go about answering your questions about data warehousing as a Professional Services organization using Microsoft Dynamics AX.

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Matthew Felzke
Useful Business Intelligence Add-on Products for Intacct

Independent software vendor (ISV) tools expand and streamline data management and analytics for Intacct users building best-of-breed Business Intelligence (BI) solutions.

One question that sometimes comes up in conversations with Intacct customers is related to confusion as to why you might need to deploy ISV tool(s) on top of the accounting system.  This is a small hurdle for ISVs as the confusion seems to quickly dissipate for the Intacct community.  First of all, no software solution, even as great as Intacct has proven to be, can answer to every single business-related analytical hurdle for every company.  A perfect example would be Apple offering their own native Maps applications on their iPhones, but still allowing consumers to install the Google Maps app, just as any modern flexible enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, like Intacct, does.  Because every organization who utilizes Intacct has particular objectives, specific planning needs and rules, the accounting system will differ in how sufficient of a solution it is for each corporation.  ISVs provide businesses the capability to customize their data management and analytics.

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