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

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.

Microsoft Dynamics, a line of ERPs and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, is a power player in the business applications world so, as you can imagine, once Microsoft released Dynamics 365, people also knew that things in the BI realm were going to change with no hesitation. There has been a lot of confusion around Dynamics 365, especially due to the changing naming conventions of this system and to make things clear, Solver CEO Nils Rasmussen explains that “Dynamics 365 is really two ERP systems. One is the lower end version of Dynamics 365, based on the NAV product in its structure. The higher end version of Dynamics 365 is based on Dynamics AX and is for the higher end of the market.” Both systems are architected for and deployed in the Microsoft Azure cloud, and it’s all hosted and managed by Microsoft. If you want to learn more, you can read about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and what it all means.

If you are planning to implement or are already using Dynamics 365, NetSuite, Acumatica, or Intacct, you might find yourself shopping for a new budgeting and reporting tool to also benefit from a modern Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution. You have several options: For instance, your company can rely on the native budgeting features and reporting options that comes natively embedded in the ERP system, but in most cases this means that you will end up exporting data to Excel to design your favorite budget model or to professionally format financial reports. Another option is that to implement a modern web-based CPM solution that integrates well to your cloud-based ERP system. The last option gets to the point: go out and shop for a new tool!

The cloud ERP market is skyrocketing. What are you going to do with your reporting and budgeting? One tip I would like to share is to make sure your budgeting and reporting tool is flexible, accessible, and is offering a cloud solution or at the minimum a web-based interface. With a cloud solution, there is no need to install or maintain upgrades. There are various reporting solutions with features and functionalities that are flexible and accessible. For example, some modern solutions offer Excel add-ins, as well as a web portal that is filled with reports and dashboards that are relevant to the user, so that the user can rapidly get to subscribed reports, commentary, discussions, and groups. A modern web-based CPM portal usually offers an intuitive, collaborative technology that also has workflow, alerts and commentary users can also execute reports on-demand, explain variances, and they can also share  specific reports with their team members. These modern functionalities are collaborative, increase transparency, and most importantly, they are user-friendly.

As reporting and budgeting solutions continue to get smarter, a number of modern, cloud-based solutions are starting to appear in the BI marketplace and many will offer easy-to-use, pre-built integrations to ERP systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365. As you research and look into more CPM tools, you will notice that some of them are on-premises, some of them are cloud-based, and others are hybrid tools. Top-notch CPM tools that are cloud or web-based platforms such as Adaptive Insights, Anaplan, Host Analytics and BI360 are great options. If you are skeptical about moving everything to the cloud, continue to choose to keep certain business applications on-premises if you’d like, but also plan for the future. You can also learn more on the pros and cons of cloud and on-premises options in the Business Intelligence: Cloud-based, One-premises, or Both? article. Studies do show that cloud helps solve problems such as lowering costs, increasing productivity, gaining flexibility, and all while providing the right information to the appropriate people at the most opportune time, so they can make wise decisions for their organization.

The BI realm for Microsoft customers is about to change as Dynamics 365 has been released and vendors are encouraged to integrate their CPM offerings. As you know, the cloud is constantly changing, and as it evolves, cloud reporting and budgeting solutions continue to get smarter as well. If your current software is limiting your organization from making smart business choices, that is all the reason to invest in a new reporting and budgeting solution. Modern BI solutions are providing business end users choices so they have access to specific data they need when they need it without having to wait for your assistance, but I still suggest you maintain a good relationship with your information technology team as they are the “technology geniuses” of the company and will help make sure that your different systems can talk to each other to maximize productivity and data quality.

Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

Image taken from Shutterstock.


This article is an interview with Solver Controller Gina Louie about wrapping up end of year with reporting for Dynamics GP users.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the person responsible for wrapping up Solver’s operational and financial year, Controller Gina Louie.  With her hands-on experience, this interview is a must-read for best practices to wrap up end of year for any organization.
How is the end of year different for finance and accounting teams like yours when compared to end of month?
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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 enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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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This article will focus on the benefits of Business Intelligence (BI) for the sales, marketing, human resources, and information technology departments using Dynamics GP.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Each department has an important role in a company. As a department leader, you may know what your team needs to achieve department-specific goals. BI solutions that cover budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and analyses can help you meet those goals in an efficient and quicker way. For example, at my own company, the current team of department heads includes Nils Rasmussen for Sales, Gina Louie for Human Resources, IT Manager Allan Bacero, and Marketing Director Vanessa Sierra. I will cover four general departments that you would typically find in an organization and explore how a BI tool would help each department.
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Nils High ResolutionOn 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. 
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This article focuses on the future of Dynamics GP Users and their Reporting and Budgeting tools.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Photo taken from Shutterstock.

Why are many companies still keeping their Dynamics GP ERP system on-premise when there is a cloud option available? Some may not know the options to migrate to the cloud. Others may feel safer using a more traditional platform. Microsoft just changed the whole game for Microsoft Dynamics Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) users. A true cloud version of Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Dynamics 365, officially released this November 1st. Dynamics 365 lets companies combine CRM, ERP and Microsoft Office capabilities into the next generation of business applications in the cloud. This Azure-hosted Dynamics service seems to be the true future for many Dynamics GP customers. Therefore, if your company is slowly making its way to the cloud, and on premise tools are most likely developed less progressively, eventually moving to Dynamics 365 or other CRM/ERP tools seems a pretty interesting alternative. This article focuses on the steps your company will need to take when your ERP is moving to the cloud.
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Photo taken from Shutterstock

In this article, we will explore the perspectives of some key leaders in regard to BI software that reports on, plans with, showcases, or manages Microsoft Dynamics GP data.

Oftentimes, the executive team tasks an employee, usually in the finance and/or IT department(s), with finding financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, or data management solutions for the organization.  You might clearly understand what your team needs to achieve department-specific goals, especially with the muscle memory of processes as they heretofore have gone.  But you might not exactly understand what is important to your team of decision makers, whether that is strictly the executive team or a larger group of stakeholders.  In this article, we will explore the perspectives of some key leaders in regard to BI software that reports on, plans with, showcases, or manages Microsoft Dynamics GP data.
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Image taken from Shutterstock.

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.
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This article will discuss your financial reporting options for your Dynamics GP.

reportingdynamicsgpYour organization needs a powerful and dynamic financial reporting tool to help you stay competitive in your industry by managing and analyzing your data without any disruptions. Navigating through Business Intelligence (BI) is much like maneuvering through the streets of a foreign country without a map or any directions. In this article, I will explore Excel-based and web-based financial reporting options, so you are able to select the best reporting tool to navigate your organization in managing and analyzing your data using Microsoft Dynamics GP. Read more