Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC) is one of the fastest-growing cloud-based ERP systems on the market, and it is quickly gaining in popularity worldwide. If you are considering a migration to D365 BC, the first thing you have to do is make sure the solution fits your needs.
As large numbers of companies are planning to migrate their accounting solution from their on-premises servers to the cloud, they not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure it meets their current and future needs, but they also have to review which tools to use for reporting, planning, and analysis. Some of these solutions are native to D365 BC and some, like Power BI dashboards, are connected apps from the Microsoft cloud stack. Still other apps are third-party best-of-breed solutions in one particular area.
This blog will focus on financial reporting for Dynamic 365 Business Central and some of the things you may want to think about to help ensure that your experience with D365 BC is maximized when it comes to producing:
- Profit & Loss Reports
- Balance Sheets
- Cash Flow Statements
- Operational Reports
Why Use Third-Party Reporting Apps Instead of the Native Tools in Dynamics 365?
D365 BC’s Account Schedules tool enables basic reports but, similar to almost any other cloud ERP system’s native reporting options, it is not the preferred place for a finance team to produce highly professional, automated reports or to consolidate financials across companies. Here is a showcase with several hundred report examples to provide an idea of the breadth and depth in capabilities that many professional reporting tools offer to help you improve reporting processes and analysis in your business.
While many D365 BC customers supplement their reporting tasks with Excel and Power BI, this still leaves an open space for the best-of-breed reporting tools on the market to offer a purpose-built and professional reporting experience that also helps to automate the month-end reporting process.
How to Pick the Right Reporting Solution for Dynamics 365 Business Central
Much can be written about evaluation and selection of financial reporting tools. We will not go into details in this blog but, if you want some ideas, this blog highlights key areas to look at – and this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors and includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost/benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.
In short, the progressive finance and accounting teams of the 2020s want reporting solutions that are flexible, closely integrated with budgeting and forecasting functionality, and that provide quick time to value.
What Is Considered a Quick Start with a New Reporting Solution and How Is It Deployed?
Most D365 BC customers want their connected apps, including reporting tools, to be cloud based. The questions that quickly come up are: how hard is it to integrate a best-of-breed reporting solution with D365 BC and how much cost and effort does it take to get key financials up and running, such as Trial Balances, Profit & Loss Reports, and Balance Sheets?
The answer typically is: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Microsoft software partners like Solver that work very closely with Dynamics 365 Business Central and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box reports. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to D365 BC gets a company up and running in a single day with ready-to-go, pre-built financial reports and Power BI dashboards as well as optional budgets and forecast templates. All of these are selected from a Marketplace that continuously grows with new templates.
A note about tools that offer integrations to D365 BC:
While almost all reporting vendors can claim to offer integration to an ERP like D365 BC, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to get such integrations ready and your financial data loaded into the reporting tool.
Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own effort level to get going:
- Usually gets you there: Generic integration tools that require a lot of skills and time to configure
- Works but often with limitations: Connectors specifically built for D365 BC, but not pre-mapped to popular fields with an app that configures dimensions and views in D365 BC to “light them up” for its API
- Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for D365 BC that include an app or scripts that properly and automatically configures dimensions and views in D365 BC and exposes them to its API. You can see an example of this type of integration here
What Is a Cloud Reporting Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?
While most best-of-breed financial reporting tools by now have followed D365 BC and other popular ERPs to the cloud, offering modern and flexible functionality to get you the reports your managers and executives need, they still have [at least] one problem: Somebody has to write those reports. This can feel very painful (including the time and cost involved), especially if you still remember the effort it took to get all required reports up and running in your old legacy on-premises ERP system.
However, there is a growing trend for cloud business solutions to offer pre-built apps (e.g. reports, connectors, etc.) in their own Marketplaces. Typically, this involves a few clicks to install; not that different from apps you download to your iPhone or Samsung phone. For example, in Solver’s Marketplace (see screenshot below), users can download Profit & Loss Reports and other financial statements, planning input templates, and more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web-service.
In other words, with true Marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with professional reports and dashboards the same day you installed the reporting tool! In other words; a very quick time-to-value!
For new or existing Dynamics 365 Business Central customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise, with Microsoft continuously improving and updating the ERP system and a rapidly growing Marketplace of third-party apps that further enhance the benefits of D365 BC. Picking the right solutions, including for reporting, can significantly improve your processes, save you time, and help drive faster and better decisions by putting the right information in front of your managers and executives when and where they need it.