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How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

Cloud-based ERP systems and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions are two directly related business applications experiencing rapid growth in the 2020s. In part because companies and organizations seek to automate the Office of Finance and help their managers make faster and better decisions.

Replacing legacy ERPs and old, home-grown Excel reporting and budgeting models, however, takes both time and money. Especially for smaller and mid-sized businesses, this investment can delay their migration to the Dynamics 365 Finance (D365 Finance) cloud ERP for several years.

To aid a customer’s move to the cloud, companies like Microsoft and their key ERP implementation partners have developed various cloud migration tools and processes to ease the pain. At the same time, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), or ERP add-ons as they are often called, have been busy at work over the past few years creating cloud-based bolt-on or add-in solutions that help automate specific areas that compliment D365 Finance and maximize the return on investment (ROI) for its customers. Solver is an example of such an ISV with a best-of-breed corporate performance management (CPM) solution that comes pre-integrated to Dynamics 365 Finance.

The rest of this blog will focus on how new cloud technologies enable Dynamics 365 customers to automate their planning, reporting and analyses using modern CPM functionality at a lower cost and with much quicker time to value than what has been available in previous years.

Why Use Best-of-Breed CPM to Compliment the Native Planning and Reporting Tools in Dynamics 365 Finance?

Like most ERPs, D365 Finance includes basic reporting, budgeting and dashboard functionality. Much like other leading ERPs, such as Sage Intacct, Netsuite and Acumatica, packing these three core feature sets into an ERP application and its corresponding database tables means that a lot of compromises have been made. Some of these shortcomings include lack of modeling, minimal workflow for approvals, inflexible input form design, weak formula capabilities, and lack of tables for detailed sub-ledger budgeting. In short, that is why the best-of-breed CPM software segment exists and the reason it is growing at a healthy clip.

From a user perspective, many of the smaller Dynamics 365 customers don’t have or don’t want to spend funds on additional business software applications that provide the advanced report formatting, consolidations, budgeting and forecasting they need for business oversight. As a result, Excel is typically used as a “do it yourself” band aid and it remains the world’s most popular reporting and planning tool. What normally happens is that customers will export data to Excel to build much-needed custom models specific to their businesses.

However, innovations in affordable, rapid deployment and out-of-the box templates from leading CPM cloud vendors have put top notch CPM functionality well within reach for most organizations to use. In fact, here is a showcase that displays more than 500 examples of budgeting, forecasting, reporting and dashboard layouts. This gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of features professional CPM tools like Solver offer to deliver world-class planning and analysis processes that drive better, faster business decisions. You can also find ideas for data visualization from the powerful dashboard functionality available when you connect Microsoft’s Power BI tool to a best-of-breed CPM solution that combines your Dynamics 365 Finance data with planning data and other important information sources. Learn more by checking out these interactive dashboards.

When it comes to supporting a user’s graphical analysis needs, many Dynamics 365 Finance customers also rely on Excel. Why? Because they already own it and know how to use the product. Not to mention that the spreadsheet interface is easy and flexible for building and maintaining the underlying calculations and charts. There is, however, a rapidly growing demand for cloud-based, best-of-breed CPM tools that integrate deeply with both Dynamics 365 and Power BI for a dynamic and secure user experience that delivers rich, interactive charting and drill-down for real-time, self-service reporting and analysis process.

How to Pick the Right CPM Solution for Dynamics 365 Finance

Traditionally, the top CPM solutions–found on user feedback websites like G2 and in analyst reports from firms like Dresner Advisory Services–can handle most organizations’ reporting and planning needs. However, when it comes to integration capabilities, data modeling and template design, there can be a big difference in time to value, amount of effort required to implement and cost.

While popular CPM tools may look similar in capabilities, some go much further than others in simplifying the ERP integration and in delivering rapid return on investment (ROI) with template-driven implementations. These other components include:

  • Pre-built and pre-mapped integration to Dynamics 365 Finance that works out-of-the box with a few clicks and without the need to manually set up endpoints in the D365 API nor manually map dimension and transaction fields to the CPM solution.
  • Financial reporting templates like profit & loss reports and balance sheets that can be downloaded from the vendor’s marketplace and that immediately work without having to edit accounts and other formulas.
  • Budgeting and forecasting templates with pre-defined versions and top-down and bottom-up input options.
  • Dashboards templates with trends, variances and other analyses. As with the reporting and planning templates, these should work out-of-the-box without the need to manipulate Power BI’s DAX formulas (i.e., underlying formula language).

We will not go into details in this blog but, if you want some ideas, this document highlights key areas to look at, while this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors, and includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive executive and finance teams of the 2020s want flexible financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting functionality closely integrated with Dynamics 365 Finance that provides quick time to value.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a CPM Solution?

Most Microsoft Dynamics customers want their connected apps, including CPM tools and dashboards, to be Azure cloud based. Key questions that quickly come up include: How hard is it to integrate to the ERP? How much cost and effort does it take to get up and running?

The typical answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Microsoft Dynamics ISV software partners, like Solver, that work very closely with the Dynamics 365 Finance ERP solution and Microsoft’s partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box financial reports, planning input templates and Power BI dashboards. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Dynamics 365 Finance can have a company up and running in a single day with more than 50 pre-built Power BI financial dashboards, in addition to financial reports and budget input templates. All these ready-to-use forms and templates can be selected and downloaded at no additional cost from a continuously growing Template Marketplace.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Dynamics 365 Finance:

While a number of CPM vendors can claim to offer integration to an ERP like Dynamics 365 Finance, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to make such integrations ready with your financial data loaded into the reporting and planning tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own effort level for implementation:

  • 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 Finance, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Dynamics nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for D365 Finance that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Dynamics and expose them to its API. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Template Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

While you receive a set of basic, embedded Power BI dashboards with Dynamics 365 Finance and it is likely you can survive with its native reporting tool and homegrown Excel budget models, the leading cloud CPM tools of the 2020s offer many advantages to drive faster and better decisions.

As an illustration, many vendors are catching on to the popularity of app marketplaces after years of watching companies like Apple and Microsoft deliver easy-to-access solutions in this fashion. CPM companies like Anaplan and Solver are now offering Template and Data Connector Marketplaces specifically built for planning and reporting needs. The main benefit for the customer: it typically only involves a few clicks to install and to incorporate your own data, compared with weeks or months of setup in legacy applications that don’t offer out-of-the-box templates.

In Solver’s Marketplace (see screenshot below), for example, users can download more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service, in addition to Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets and other financial statements and planning input templates.

How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

With true marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with professional dashboards, financial reports and budget templates the same day you install the CPM tool, and with no upfront data modeling or formula design!

Summary

The 2020s is already shaping up to be a decade with a lot of exciting automations and insights companies can gain by implementing modern ERPs like Dynamics 365 Finance with CPM solutions like Solver that have embraced deep Dynamics 365 and Power BI integrations. Benefits include “quick start” implementation wizards, and ready-to-use, downloadable templates from a marketplace. Picking the right solution, with planning and financial reporting considerations, 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.

Solver QuickStart - Power BI Dashboard Templates for Dynamics 365 Finance

Dynamics 365 Finance (D365 Finance) and Power BI are both rapidly growing cloud software applications from Microsoft. Although these technologies can be used independently, customers are increasingly using them together as an integrated platform.

As executives drive their accounting teams to migrate to a modern cloud ERP system like D365 Finance, senior leaders are at the same time expecting to gain the ability to perform world-class analyses with their new ERP. For that reason, evaluation teams not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure current and future needs are met, but they also must determine the tools to use for dashboards, reporting, and planning.

Power BI has become the world’s most popular business intelligence (BI) solution and it is the natural data visualization dashboard choice for financial data from Dynamics 365. It is typically deployed as a stand-alone web service from Microsoft with companies often including other kinds of non-financial data as well. As with any flexible dashboard software, however, developing Power BI models can be complex, time-consuming, and costly, especially when building numerous dashboards and tailoring them to your D365 Finance business dimensions and data. What’s more, if the Power BI models are not wisely built it can be a daunting task to maintain them when your chart of accounts grows or when you make other changes or additions in Dynamics 365.

Most people that have implemented dashboard models for financial data know that it can take hundreds of hours of integration and design time before managers can enjoy their “shiny” dashboard gadgets.

This blog will focus on rapid deployment of Power BI dashboards for Dynamics 365 Finance, as well as several factors you may want to think about to ensure your executives’ expectations are met or exceeded when it comes to providing them with:

  • Revenue Dashboards
  • Expense Dashboards
  • Variance Dashboards
  • Exception Dashboards
  • Trend Dashboards
  • Balance Sheet Dashboards
  • KPI Dashboards
  • Benchmarking Dashboards

Why Use Stand-alone Power BI Dashboards to Compliment the Native Tools in Dynamics 365?

D365 Finance provides a limited version of Power BI that has been embedded with the ERP user interface. This format offers “native” dashboards and comes with a few simple, pre-built financial templates, but much like almost any other cloud ERP system’s native or embedded dashboard options, it lacks the complete flexibility that a management team usually requires when producing highly professional, automated graphical dashboards that can combine their ERP data with other important data sources.

Here is a link to a showcase that features more than a hundred dashboard examples. It provides a general idea of the capabilities in both breadth and depth that many professional reporting and analysis tools offer. It can also help you improve and democratize analyses for better, faster decisions in your business. Additional ideas can be found by trying these interactive Power BI dashboards.

Solver QuickStart - Power BI Dashboard Templates for Dynamics 365 Finance

Solver QuickStart – Power BI Dashboard Templates for Dynamics 365 Finance

Many Dynamics 365 customers support their graphical analysis needs through Excel because the software is already owned, users already know how to use it, and the interface is easy and flexible to build while maintaining the underlying formulas. However, there is a rapidly growing demand for cloud-based, best-of-breed dashboard tools like Power BI that offer a dynamic and secure user experience with rich, interactive charting and drill-down and that provides real-time, self-service reporting and analysis processes.

How to Pick the Right Dashboard Solution for Dynamics 365 Finance

Much can be written about the best and most affordable way to deploy Power BI. Most organizations find that delivering a rich and sustainable dashboard experience to their business and Office of Finance users does require more than just a Power BI license. These other components include:

  • Pre-built financial dashboard templates that work out-of-the box, and that can be changed or copied to support special custom needs.
  • Financial reporting and planning that complement Power BI graphical dashboards. Here is more information about things to look for in professional reporting and planning
  • A data warehouse or staging database to organize key Dynamics 365 data and dimensions, with the added capability to include non-ERP data in order to deliver a comprehensive, clean data model to Power BI. Read more about pre-built financial data warehouses here.

We will not go into details about dashboard software evaluation in this blog but, if you want some ideas, this other blog highlights key areas many people want in a dashboard, while this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors. It also includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive executive and finance teams of the 2020s want dashboard solutions that are flexible; that are closely integrated with financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting functionality; and that provide quick time to value through template-based deployment.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a Power BI Dashboard Solution for Dynamics 365 Finance?

Most Dynamics 365 customers want their connected apps, including dashboards, to be cloud based. The questions that quickly come up include: How hard is it to go beyond the native visualization tools that already come with D365 Finance, and to integrate a best-of-breed tool like Power BI with their ERP? How much cost and effort does it take to get key financial dashboards up and running?

The typical answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. Sometimes, the completed integration is static and the ability to maintain data models is complicated and hard. This often results in disappointing outcomes. However, Microsoft software partners like Solver, that work very closely with the Dynamics 365 Finance solution and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations, a data warehouse and out-of-the-box dashboards to solve these challenges. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Dynamics 365 Finance helps a company get up and running in a single day, providing access to more than 50 pre-built Power BI financial dashboards, as well as, additional financial reports and budget input templates. All these turn-key options are available from a marketplace that continuously expands with new templates.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Dynamics 365 Finance:

While almost all dashboard vendors can claim to offer integrations to popular ERPs like D365 Finance, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to get such integrations ready and your financial data loaded into the visualization tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own level of effort during implementation:

  • 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 Finance, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in D365 Finance nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for D365 Finance that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in D365 and expose them to its API. This results in a “clean” data model that Power BI can easily consume. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Cloud Dashboard Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

While you are given a set of basic, embedded Power BI dashboards with Dynamics 365 Finance, most companies end up designing their own graphical reports using the stand-alone Power BI license. However, offering modern and flexible functionality that quickly delivers the dashboards your managers and executives need is often a pipe dream. There is at least one challenge that must be overcome: Somebody must design all those dashboards and learn the underlying formula language referred to as “DAX”. This can be painful, especially when you consider the time and cost involved. More so if your leaders are eager and want their dashboards sooner rather than later and without a big consulting bill attached.

These days there is a growing trend for cloud business solutions to offer pre-built financial dashboards that are downloadable and ready-to-use from each vendor’s marketplace. Typically, this involves a few clicks to install and refresh the report with your own data. The process is not that different from apps you download to your iPhone or Samsung phone. For example, in Solver’s Marketplace, users can download more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service in addition to Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets and other financial statements and planning input templates.

Solver QuickStart - Power BI Financial Dashboard Categories for Dynamics 365 Finance

In other words, with true marketplace templates, you should be able to provide your managers with professional dashboards and reports the same day you install the reporting tool–and with no upfront formula design or Power BI model building! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Dynamics 365 Finance customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise. Microsoft is continuously improving and updating their ERP system, while a rapidly growing Appsource marketplace of third-party apps further enhances the benefits of D365 Finance. Picking the right solutions, like data visualization tools for dashboards as an example, 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.

How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

A rapidly increasing number of mid-market organizations are implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance (D365 Finance) as their new cloud ERP system. If you are considering a migration to D365 Finance, there are a few key things to do: make sure the solution fits your needs; and determine if your company should also consider any best-of-breed add-on solutions to automate certain processes key to your business.

When companies consider migrating their accounting solution from on-premise servers to the cloud, the decision usually relies on the solution’s ability to automate and streamline accounting and finance processes. To ensure this occurs, companies not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure it meets their current and future needs but must also determine the tools to use for reporting, planning, and analyses. Some of these functions can be found natively in Dynamics 365 Finance while others, like dashboards for data visualization, are embedded or connected apps.

This blog will focus on best-of-breed budgeting and forecasting apps that are pre-integrated with D365 Finance. The information below includes some tips you may want to consider to ensure your ROI and Dynamics 365 experiences are optimized when it comes to producing:

  • Annual budgets
  • Monthly or quarterly forecasts
  • What-if analysis and scenario modeling
  • Strategic goals to drive your planning process

Why Use Planning Apps Instead of the Native Budgeting Features in Dynamics 365 Finance?

D365 Finance’s budgeting functionality enables basic budget input. However, as with almost any other cloud ERP system’s native planning tools, this inherent functionality is not the typical tool budgeting managers prefer to use to oversee a complete annual budget process or to produce a forecast. This showcase of planning input forms and report templates includes several hundred budgeting, forecasting and report examples. The sheer volume of options gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of capabilities found with professional corporate performance management (CPM) tools. Tools that can help you optimize planning processes and related decision-making in your business.

While many Microsoft Dynamics 365 customers supplement their budgeting and forecasting tasks with home-grown Excel models, it becomes obvious when manual Excel models no longer are the right tools for your planning processes. Typical signs of Excel pain include problems like:

  • Errors with formulas and links
  • No workflow
  • Lack of elegant versioning (separating budget versions)
  • Long duration (often 2+ months) of the budget process due to lack of automation
  • Lack of user security (especially for salary budgets, etc.)
  • Inability to perform web-based input so files need to be shared and collected
  • Painfully slow and inflexible budget consolidation and reporting options

 

These types of common issues leave an opening for the market’s best-of-breed budgeting and forecasting solutions to offer a purpose-built and professional planning experience that also can automate and streamline your budgeting and forecasting processes.

How to Pick the Right Planning Solution for Dynamics 365 Finance

Much can be written about evaluation and selection of budgeting and forecasting solutions. We will not go into details in this blog, but if you would like some ideas, this document highlights key areas to consider. This interactive evaluation tool also provides a simple way to compare and score planning tools. It includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive Financial, Planning and Analysis (FP&A) departments of the 2020s want planning solutions that are flexible; closely integrated with their ERP as well as financial reporting (for variance analysis, etc.) and dashboard functionality; and that provide quick time to value.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a New Planning Solution and How Is It Deployed?

These days, most Microsoft Dynamics customers want their connected apps, including budgeting and forecasting tools, to be cloud based and often Azure is the preferred cloud platform. Questions that quickly come up include: how complex might be an integration of a best-of-breed planning solution with D365 Finance, and how much cost and effort will it take to get key budget input forms up and running in it? Input forms such as:

  • Employee payroll (with taxes and benefits)
  • Capital expenses (with calculation of depreciation)
  • Sales budget (by salesperson and/or customer, product/service)
  • Profit & Loss (revenues and operating expenses)
  • Balance sheet with automated or semi-automated Cash Flow budgets

The typical answer: months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in consulting services. However, some Dynamics 365 independent software vendors (ISVs), like Solver, that work very closely with Microsoft and its partner channel, have developed pre-built ERP integrations as well as out-of-the-box budget templates. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Dynamics 365 Finance can have a company up and running in a single day, with pre-built and customizable input planning forms, reports and Microsoft Power BI dashboards. All these forms, reports and visualization tools are available in a continuously growing template Marketplace.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Dynamics 365 Finance:

While almost several CPM vendors can claim to offer integrations to an ERP like Dynamics 365, there can be big differences in the skills and effort involved in having these integrations complete and ready to go with your financial data loaded into the planning and reporting tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own effort level required 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 Dynamics 365 Finance, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Dynamics nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Dynamics 365 Finance and that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Dynamics. Then it exposes them to its API, including pre-mapped popular dimensions and data. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Template Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

By now, most best-of-breed planning solutions have followed D365 Finance and other popular ERPs to the cloud. They offer modern and flexible functionality to collect the budget and forecast data that your executives need. However, they still have at least one big deficiency: Somebody must design those input forms and adapt them to your Dynamics chart of accounts and other key dimensions. This can be very painful when you include the time and cost involved, especially if you still remember the effort it took to get all required templates and reports up and running in your old legacy on-premise ERP system.

These days, there is a growing trend for cloud business solutions to offer pre-built apps such as reports, input forms, connectors, and more in their own Marketplaces. Typically, app installations only involve a few clicks to install from a marketplace. This is not that different from apps you are used to downloading to your iPhone or Samsung phone. For example, in Solver’s Marketplace (see screenshot below), users can download planning input templates, financial reports and more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service.

Rapid deployment of Budgeting and Forecasting Tools for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

Rapid deployment of Budgeting and Forecasting Tools for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

In other words, with true marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with at least a set of General Ledger account-level budgeting and forecasting templates the same day you install the planning tool! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Dynamics 365 Finance customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise. Microsoft is continuously improving and updating their ERP system, and there is a rapidly growing ecosystem of third-party apps that further enhance the benefits of D365 Finance. Picking the right solutions, for planning as an example, 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.

How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance (D365 Finance) was born from the widely known on-premise product known as Dynamics AX. In recent years D365 Finance has become a significant player in the cloud-based ERP market segment, quickly gaining popularity worldwide as Offices of Finance within organizations began to migrate to cloud applications. If you are considering a move to D365 Finance, the first thing to do is make sure the solution fits your needs.

As large numbers of companies plan to migrate their legacy accounting solutions from on-premise 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 have to also review the tools they will use for reporting, planning, and analyses. Some reporting, planning and analysis tools are native to Dynamics 365. While some others, like the Solver financial reporting and consolidations application, are approved and preferred Microsoft apps because they are considered a best-of-breed complimentary solution in a particular area.

This blog will focus on financial reporting for Dynamics 365 Finance and will look at some of the things you may want to think about to ensure you optimize your experience with Dynamics 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 Finance?

D365 Finance’s native report writer for financial statements and other GL summary data was previously called Management Reporter. Now it is typically just referred to as “Financial Reporting”. It is an upgraded, web-based version of FRx, which was a popular legacy reporting tool that launched in the 1990s. However, much like almost any other cloud ERP system’s built-in reporting options, the native Financial Reporting tool is not usually the preferred application finance teams use to produce highly professional reports with custom formulas and advanced layout or when they want to consolidate financials across companies. This showcase of forms, templates and reports provides several hundred report examples that show the breadth and depth of capabilities a best-of-breed reporting tool can offer to improve reporting processes and analyses in your business.

While many Dynamics customers supplement their reporting tasks with manual Excel files, SQL Reporting Services (SSRS) and dashboard tools like Power BI, there is still a spot for best-of-breed financial reporting tools to offer a single, 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 Finance

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. This interactive tool will also provide a simple way to compare and score vendors. It includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive finance and accounting teams of the 2020s want financial reporting solutions that are flexible, closely integrated with budgeting and forecasting functionality, and that provide quick time to value during implementation.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a New Reporting Solution and How Is It Deployed?

Most Dynamics 365 Finance customers want their connected apps, including reporting tools, to be cloud based. Questions that quickly come up include: how hard is it to integrate a best-of-breed reporting solution with Dynamics, 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 typical answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, some best-of-breed software companies like Solver, that work very closely with Microsoft and its Dynamics partner channel, have developed pre-built GL and sub-ledger integrations as well as out-of-the-box reports. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to D365 Finance can set 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 budget and forecast templates. All of these can be selected from a Marketplace that grows continuously with new templates.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Dynamics 365 Finance:

While several financial reporting vendors can claim to offer integrations to an ERP system like D365 Finance, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to get such integrations ready with your financial data loaded into the reporting tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations. Each integration requires 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 Dynamics 365 Finance, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Dynamics nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Dynamics 365 Finance and that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Dynamics. Then it exposes them to its API, including pre-mapped popular dimensions and data. 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?

Most best-of-breed financial reporting tools have by now followed Dynamics 365 Finance and other popular ERPs to the cloud. Many also offer modern and flexible functionality to deliver reports your managers and executives need, however they still have [at least] one problem: Somebody has to write those reports. This can feel very painful, especially when you factor in the time and cost involved. Just remember the effort it took to get all required reports up and running in your old legacy on-premises ERP system.

Nowadays 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.

Rapid implementation of financial reports and CPM for Dynamics 365 Finance with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

Rapid implementation of financial reports and CPM for Dynamics 365 Finance with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

In other words, with true Marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with professional reports and dashboards the same day you install the reporting tool! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Microsoft Dynamics 365 customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise as Dynamics 365 Finance continuously improves and expands their ERP system. Customers are also able to tap into its flourishing ecosystem of third-party apps that further enhance the benefits of a Dynamics ERP system. Picking the right solutions, including one for reporting, can significantly improve your processes, save you time, and drive faster and better decisions by putting the right information in front of your managers and executives when and where they need it.

How to Quickly Get Started with Corporate Performance Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

Cloud-based ERP systems and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions are two directly related business applications experiencing rapid growth in the 2020s as companies and organizations seek to automate the office of finance and help their managers make faster and better decisions.

Replacing legacy ERPs and old, home-grown Excel reporting and budgeting models, however, takes both time and money. Especially for smaller and mid-sized businesses, this investment can delay their migration to Acumatica’s cloud ERP for several years.

To aid a customer’s move to the cloud, companies like Acumatica and their key ERP implementation partners have developed various cloud migration tools and processes to ease the pain. At the same time, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), or ERP add-ons as they are often called, have been busy at work over the past few years creating bolt-on or add-in solutions that help automate specific areas that compliment Acumatica and maximize the return on investment (ROI) for its customers. Solver is an example of such an ISV with a best-of-breed corporate performance management (CPM) solution that comes pre-integrated to Acumatica.

The rest of this blog will focus on how new cloud technologies enable Acumatica customers to automate their planning, reporting and analyses using modern CPM functionality at a lower cost and with much quicker time to value than what has been available in previous years.

Why Use Best-of-Breed CPM to Compliment the Native Planning and Reporting Tools in Acumatica?

Like most ERPs, Acumatica includes reporting, budgeting and dashboard functionality. Much like other leading ERPs, such as Sage Intacct, Netsuite and Dynamics 365, packing these three core feature sets into an ERP application and its corresponding database tables means that a lot of compromises have been made. Some of these shortcomings include lack of modeling, minimal workflow for approvals, inflexible input form design, weak formula capabilities, and lack of tables for detailed sub-ledger budgeting. In short, that is why the best-of-breed CPM software segment exists and the reason it is growing at a healthy clip.

From a user perspective, many of the smaller Acumatica customers don’t have or don’t want to spend funds on additional business software applications that provide the advanced report formatting, consolidations, budgeting and forecasting they need for business oversight. As a result, Excel is typically used as a “do it yourself” band aid and it remains the world’s most popular reporting and planning tool. What normally happens is that customers will export data to Excel to build much-needed custom models specific to their businesses.

However, innovations in affordable, rapid deployment and out-of-the box templates from leading CPM cloud vendors have put top notch CPM functionality well within reach for most organizations to use. In fact, here is a showcase that displays more than 500 examples of budgeting, forecasting, reporting and dashboard layouts. This gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of features professional CPM tools like Solver offer to deliver world-class planning and analysis processes that drive better, faster business decisions. You can also find ideas for data visualization from the powerful dashboard functionality available when you connect Microsoft’s Power BI tool to a best-of-breed CPM solution that combines your Acumatica data with planning data and other important information sources. Learn more by checking out these interactive dashboards.

When it comes to supporting a user’s graphical analysis needs, many Acumatica customers also rely on Excel. Why? Because they already own it and know how to use the product. Not to mention that the spreadsheet interface is easy and flexible for building and maintaining the underlying calculations and charts. There is, however, a rapidly growing demand for cloud-based, best-of-breed CPM tools that integrate deeply with both Acumatica and Power BI for a dynamic and secure user experience that delivers rich, interactive charting and drill-down for real-time, self-service reporting and analysis process.

How to Pick the Right CPM Solution for Acumatica

Traditionally, the top CPM solutions–found on user feedback websites like G2 and in analyst reports from firms like Dresner Advisory Services–can handle most organizations’ reporting and planning needs. However, when it comes to integration capabilities, data modeling and template design, there can be a big difference in time to value, effort and cost.

While popular CPM tools may look similar in capabilities, some are going much further than others in simplifying the ERP integration and in delivering rapid return on investment with template-driven implementations. These other components include:

  • Pre-built and pre-mapped integration to Acumatica that works out-of-the box with a few clicks and without the need to manually set up end-points in the Acumatica API nor manually map dimension and transaction fields to the CPM solution.
  • Financial reporting templates like profit & loss reports and balance sheets that can be downloaded from the vendor’s marketplace and that immediately work without having to edit accounts and other formulas.
  • Budgeting and forecasting templates with pre-defined versions and top-down and bottom-up input options.
  • Dashboards templates with trends, variances and other analyses. As with the reporting and planning templates, these should work out-of-the-box without the need to manipulate Power BI’s DAX formulas (i.e., underlying formula language).

We will not go into details in this blog but, if you want some ideas, this document highlights key areas to look at, while this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors, and includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive executive and finance teams of the 2020s want flexible financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting functionality closely integrated with Acumatica that provides quick time to value.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a CPM Solution?

Most Acumatica customers want their connected apps, including CPM tools and dashboards, to be cloud based. Key questions that quickly come up are: How hard is it to integrate to the ERP? How much cost and effort does it take to get up and running?

The typical answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Acumatica ISV software partners, like Solver, that work very closely with the Acumatica ERP solution and Acumatica’s partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box financial reports, planning input templates and Power BI dashboards. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Acumatica can get a company up and running in a single day with more than 50 pre-built Power BI financial dashboards, in addition to financial reports and budget input templates. All these ready-to-use forms and templates can be selected and downloaded at no additional cost from a continuously growing Template Marketplace.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Acumatica:

While almost all CPM vendors can claim to offer integration to an ERP like Acumatica, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to make such integrations ready and your financial data loaded into the reporting and planning tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own effort level for implementation:

  • 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 Acumatica, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Acumatica nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Acumatica that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Acumatica and expose them to its API. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Template Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

While you receive a set of embedded “native” dashboards with Acumatica and you can survive with its native reporting tool and homegrown Excel budget models, the leading cloud CPM tools of the 2020s offer many advantages to drive faster and better decisions.

In particular, some vendors are catching on to the popularity of app marketplaces after years of watching companies like Apple and Microsoft deliver easy-to-access solutions in this way. CPM companies like Anaplan and Solver are now offering Template and Data Connector Marketplaces specifically built for planning and reporting needs. The main benefit for the customer is that this typically only involves a few clicks to install and to incorporate your own data, compared with weeks or months of setup in legacy applications that don’t offer out-of-the-box templates.

For example, in Solver’s Marketplace (see screenshot below), users can download more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service, in addition to Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets and other financial statements and planning input templates.

Rapid implementation of corporate performance management (CPM) for Acumatica with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

Rapid implementation of corporate performance management (CPM) for Acumatica with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

With true marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with professional dashboards, financial reports and budget templates the same day you install the CPM tool, and with no upfront data modeling or formula design!

Summary

The 2020s is already shaping up to be a decade with a lot of exciting automations and insights companies can gain by implementing modern ERPs like Acumatica with CPM solutions like Solver that have embraced deep Acumatica and Power BI integrations. Benefits include “quick start” implementation wizards, and ready-to-use, downloadable templates from a marketplace. Picking the right solution, with planning and financial reporting considerations, 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.

Solver QuickStart - Power BI Financial Dashboard Categories for Dynamics 365 Finance

Acumatica and Power BI are both rapidly growing cloud software applications. Although these technologies can be used independently, customers are increasingly using them together as an integrated platform.

As executives drive their accounting teams to migrate to a modern cloud ERP system like Acumatica, senior leaders are at the same time expecting to gain the ability to perform world-class analyses with their new ERP. For that reason, evaluation teams not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure current and future needs are met, but they also must determine the tools to use for dashboards, reporting, and planning.

Power BI has become the world’s top business intelligence (BI) solution and is the natural data visualization dashboard choice for Acumatica. It is typically deployed as a stand-alone web service from Microsoft and often includes all kinds of non-financial data as well. As with any flexible dashboard software, however, developing Power BI models can be complex, time-consuming and costly, especially when building numerous dashboards and then tailoring them to your Acumatica business dimensions. And, if the Power BI models are not built wisely it can be a daunting task to maintain them when your chart of accounts grows and when you make other changes and additions in Acumatica.

Most people that have implemented dashboard models for financial data know that it can take hundreds of hours of integration and design time before managers can enjoy their “shiny” dashboard gadgets.

This blog will focus on rapid deployment of Power BI dashboards for Acumatica, as well as several factors you may want to think about to ensure your executives’ expectations are met or exceeded when it comes to providing them with:

  • Revenue Dashboards
  • Expense Dashboards
  • Variance Dashboards
  • Exception Dashboards
  • Trend Dashboards
  • Balance Sheet Dashboards
  • KPI Dashboards
  • Benchmarking Dashboards

Why Use Stand-alone Power BI Dashboards to Compliment the Native Tools in Acumatica?

Acumatica’s native dashboards offer simple, pre-built templates, but similarly to almost any other cloud ERP system’s native or embedded dashboard options, it lacks the full flexibility that a management team usually requires when it comes to producing highly professional, automated graphical dashboards that can combine their ERP data with other important data sources.

Here is a link to a showcase that features more than a hundred dashboard examples. It provides a general idea of the capabilities in both breadth and depth that many professional reporting tools offer. It can also help you improve and democratize analyses for better, faster decisions in your business. Additional ideas can be found by trying these interactive Power BI dashboards.

Solver QuickStart Dashboard Example

Solver QuickStart Dashboard Example

Many Acumatica customers support graphical analysis needs through Excel because the software is already owned, users already know how to use it, and the interface is easy and flexible to build while maintaining the underlying formulas. However, there is a rapidly growing demand for cloud-based, best-of-breed dashboard tools like Power BI that offer a dynamic and secure user experience with rich, interactive charting and drill-down that provides real-time, self-service reporting and analysis processes.

How to Pick the Right Dashboard Solution for Acumatica

Much can be written about the best and most affordable way to deploy Power BI. Most organizations find that delivering a rich and sustainable dashboard experience to their business and office of finance users does require more than just a Power BI license. These other components include:

  • Pre-built financial dashboard templates that work out-of-the box, and that can be changed or copied to support special custom needs.
  • Financial reporting and planning that complement Power BI graphical dashboards. Here is more information about things to look for in professional reporting and planning
  • A data warehouse or staging database to organize key Acumatica data and dimensions, with the added capability to include non-ERP data in order to deliver a comprehensive, clean data model to Power BI. Read more about pre-built financial data warehouses here.

We will not go into details about dashboard software evaluation in this blog but, if you want some ideas, this other blog highlights key areas many people want in a dashboard, while this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors. It also includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive executive and finance teams of the 2020s want dashboard solutions that are flexible; that are closely integrated with financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting functionality; and that provide quick time to value through template-based deployment.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a Power BI Dashboard Solution for Acumatica?

Most Acumatica customers want their connected apps, including dashboards, to be cloud based. The questions that quickly come up include: How hard is it to go beyond the native visualization tools that already come with Acumatica, and to integrate a best-of-breed tool like Power BI with the ERP? How much cost and effort does it take to get key financial dashboards up and running?

The typical answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. Sometimes, the end result is static and the ability to maintain data models is complicated and hard. This often results in disappointing outcomes. However, Microsoft software partners like Solver, that work very closely with the Acumatica solution and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations, a data warehouse and out-of-the-box dashboards to solve these challenges. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Acumatica helps a company get up and running in a single day, providing access to more than 50 pre-built Power BI financial dashboards, as well as, additional financial reports and budget input templates. All these turn-key options are available from a marketplace that continuously expands with new templates.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Acumatica:

While almost all dashboard vendors can claim to offer integration to popular ERPs like Acumatica, 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 level of effort during implementation:

  • 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 Acumatica, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Acumatica nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Acumatica that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Acumatica and expose them to its API. This results in a “clean” data model that Power BI can easily consume. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Cloud Dashboard Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

While you are given a set of native dashboards with Acumatica, many companies end up designing their own graphical reports using a Power BI license. However, offering modern and flexible functionality that quickly delivers the dashboards your managers and executives need is often a pipe dream. There is at least one problem: Somebody must design all those dashboards and learn the underlying Power BI formula language referred to as “DAX”. This can be painful, especially when you consider the time and cost involved. More so if your leaders are eager and want their dashboards sooner rather than later and without a big consulting bill attached.

However, there is a growing trend for cloud business solutions to offer pre-built financial dashboards that are downloadable and ready-to-use from each vendor’s marketplace. Typically, this involves a few clicks to install and refresh the report with your own data. The process is not that different from apps you download to your iPhone or Samsung phone. For example, in Solver’s Marketplace, users can download more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service in addition to Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets and other financial statements and planning input templates.

Solver QuickStart Financial Dashboard Categories for Acumatica

Solver QuickStart Financial Dashboard Categories for Acumatica

In other words, with true marketplace templates, you should be able to provide your managers with professional dashboards and reports the same day you install the reporting tool–and with no upfront formula design or Power BI model building! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Acumatica customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise. Acumatica is continuously improving and updating their ERP system, while a rapidly growing Marketplace of third-party apps further enhances the benefits of Acumatica. Picking the right solutions, like data visualization tools for dashboards as an example, 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.

Rapid budgeting and forecasting implementation for Acumatica with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

How to Quickly Deploy the Best Budgeting and Forecasting Tools for Acumatica

A rapidly increasing number of mid-market organizations are implementing Acumatica as their new cloud ERP system. If you are considering a migration to Acumatica, there are a few key things to do: make sure the solution fits your needs; and determine if your company should also consider any best-of-breed add-on solutions to automate certain processes key to your business.

When companies consider migrating their accounting solution from on-premise servers to the cloud, the decision usually relies on the solution’s ability to automate and streamline accounting and finance processes. To ensure this occurs, companies not only have to review core ERP functionality to make sure it meets their current and future needs but must also determine the tools to use for reporting, planning, and analyses. Some of these functions can be found in Acumatica while others, like dashboards for data visualization, are embedded or connected apps.

This blog will focus on best-of-breed budgeting and forecasting apps that are pre-integrated with Acumatica. The information below includes some tips you may want to consider to ensure your ROI and Acumatica experiences are optimized when it comes to producing:

  • Annual budgets
  • Monthly or quarterly forecasts
  • What-if analysis and scenario modeling
  • Strategic goals to drive your planning process

Why Use Planning Apps Instead of the Native Budgeting Features in Acumatica?

Acumatica’s budgeting functionality enables basic budget input. However, as with almost any other cloud ERP system’s native planning tools, this inherent functionality is not the typical tool budgeting managers prefer to use to oversee an annual budget process or produce a forecast. This showcase of forms and templates includes several hundred budgeting, forecasting and report examples. The sheer volume of options gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of capabilities found with professional corporate performance management (CPM) tools. Tools that can help you optimize planning processes and related decision-making in your business.

While many Acumatica customers supplement their budgeting and forecasting tasks with home-grown Excel models, it becomes obvious when manual Excel models no longer are the right tools for your planning processes. Typical signs of Excel pain include problems like:

  • Errors with formulas and links
  • No workflow
  • Lack of elegant versioning (separating budget versions)
  • Long duration (often 2+ months) of the budget process due to lack of automation
  • Lack of user security (especially for salary budgets, etc.)
  • Inability to perform web-based input so files need to be shared and collected
  • Painfully slow and inflexible budget consolidation and reporting options

These types of common issues leave an opening for the market’s best-of-breed budgeting and forecasting solutions to offer a purpose-built and professional planning experience that also can automate and streamline your budgeting and forecasting processes.

How to Pick the Right Planning Solution for Acumatica

Much can be written about evaluation and selection of budgeting and forecasting solutions. We will not go into details in this blog, but if you would like some ideas, this document highlights key areas to consider. This interactive evaluation tool also provides a simple way to compare and score planning tools. It includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive Financial, Planning and Analysis (FP&A) departments of the 2020s want planning solutions that are flexible; closely integrated with their ERP as well as financial reporting (for variance analysis, etc.) and dashboard functionality; and that provide quick time to value.

What Is Considered a Quick Start with a New Planning Solution and How Is It Deployed?

These days, most Acumatica customers want their connected apps, including budgeting and forecasting tools, to be cloud based. Questions that quickly come up include: how complex might be an integration of a best-of-breed planning solution with Acumatica, and how much cost and effort will it take to get key budget input forms up and running in it? Input forms such as:

  • Employee payroll (with taxes and benefits)
  • Capital expenses (with calculation of depreciation)
  • Sales budget (by salesperson and/or customer, product/service)
  • Profit & Loss (revenues and operating expenses)
  • Balance sheet with automated or semi-automated Cash Flow budgets

The typical answer: months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in consulting services. However, some Acumatica software partners like Solver, that work very closely with Acumatica and its partner channel, have developed pre-built ERP integrations as well as out-of-the-box budget templates. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Acumatica can have a company up and running in a single day, with pre-built and customizable input planning forms, reports and Microsoft Power BI dashboards. All these forms, reports and visualization tools are available in a continuously growing template Marketplace.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Acumatica:

While almost all reporting vendors can claim to offer integrations to an ERP like Acumatica, there can be big differences in the skills and effort involved in having these integrations ready with your financial data loaded into the planning and reporting tool.

Generally, there are three categories of integrations, each with its own effort level required 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 Acumatica, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Acumatica nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Acumatica and that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Acumatica. Then it exposes them to its API, including pre-mapped popular dimensions and data. You can see an example of this type of integration here.

What Is a Template Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

By now, most best-of-breed planning solutions have followed Acumatica and other popular ERPs to the cloud. They offer modern and flexible functionality to collect the budget and forecast data that your executives need. However, they still have at least one big deficiency: Somebody must design those input forms and adapt them to your Acumatica chart of accounts and other key dimensions. This can be very painful when you include 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-premise ERP system.

These days, there is a growing trend for cloud business solutions to offer pre-built apps such as reports, input forms, connectors, and more in their own Marketplaces. Typically, app installations only involve a few clicks to install from a marketplace. This is not that different from apps you are used to downloading to your iPhone or Samsung phone. For example, in Solver’s Marketplace (see screenshot below), users can download planning input templates, financial reports and more than 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web service.

Rapid budgeting and forecasting implementation for Acumatica with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

Rapid budgeting and forecasting implementation for Acumatica with pre-built templates from Solver Marketplace

In other words, with true marketplace templates you should be able to provide your managers with at least a set of General Ledger account-level budgeting and forecasting templates the same day you install the planning tool! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Acumatica customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise. Acumatica is continuously improving and updating their ERP system, and there is a rapidly growing eco-system of third-party apps that further enhance the benefits of Acumatica. Picking the right solutions, for planning as an example, 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.

Rapid report implementation for Acumatica with pre-built financial templates from Solver Marketplace

Acumatica has become a significant player in the cloud-based ERP market segment, quickly gaining popularity worldwide. If you are considering a migration to Acumatica, the first thing to do is make sure the solution fits your needs.

With a significant number of companies planning to migrate their accounting solution from on-premise servers to the cloud, it is necessary to review core ERP functionality to make sure it meets the company’s current and future needs, as well as review the tools to be used for reporting, planning, and analysis. Some of these elements are native to Acumatica while some, like the Solver financial reporting and consolidations application, are approved by Acumatica because it’s a best-of-breed complimentary solution in a particular area.

This blog will focus on financial reporting for Acumatica and some of the things you may want to think about to ensure you optimize your experience when producing:

  • Profit & Loss Reports
  • Balance Sheets
  • Cash Flow Statements
  • Operational Reports

Why Use Third-Party Reporting Apps Instead of the Native Tools in Acumatica?

Acumatica’s native report writer is called Analytical Report Manager and it enables basic report design. But, similarly to almost any other cloud ERP system’s built-in reporting options, it is typically not the tool finance teams prefer to use when required to produce highly professional reports with custom formulas and an advanced layout or when they need to consolidate financials across companies. This showcase of forms and templates includes several hundred report examples. It will give you an idea of the breadth and depth of capabilities found with many professional reporting tools that will help you improve reporting processes and analyses in your business.

While many Acumatica customers supplement their reporting tasks with manual Excel files and dashboard tools like Power BI and Tableau, this still leaves a gap for best-of-breed financial 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 Acumatica

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 other blog highlights key areas to consider. Additionally, this interactive tool provides a simple way to compare and score vendors and includes an ROI calculator to analyze the cost and benefit of alternative tools versus your current solution.

In short, progressive finance and accounting teams of the 2020s want financial 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 Acumatica customers want their connected apps, including reporting tools, to be cloud based. Questions that quickly come up include: how hard is it to integrate a best-of-breed reporting solution with Acumatica 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 most common answer: Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, some best-of-breed software companies like Solver that work very closely with Acumatica and its partner channel, have developed pre-built GL and sub-ledger integrations as well as out-of-the-box reports. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Acumatica can have a company up and running in a single day with ready-to-go, pre-built financial reports and Power BI dashboards, in addition to optional budget and forecast templates. All of these are selected from a Marketplace that continuously expands with new templates.

A note about tools that offer integrations to Acumatica:

While almost all reporting vendors can claim to offer integrations to an ERP system like Acumatica, there can be big differences in the skill and effort involved to get such integrations ready with 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 Acumatica, but do not include an app that configures dimensions and views in Acumatica nor pre-maps to popular fields to “light them up” for its API.
  • Quickest and easiest: Connectors specifically built for Acumatica that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in Acumatica and expose them to its API. You can see an example of this type of pre-built integration here.

What Is a Cloud Reporting Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?

While most best-of-breed financial reporting tools have followed Acumatica and other popular ERPs to the cloud, and they are 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 be painful, especially when you consider the time and cost involved, and the effort it took to get all required reports up and running in your old legacy on-premise 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. It’s 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.

Rapid report implementation for Acumatica with pre-built financial templates from Solver Marketplace

Rapid report implementation for Acumatica with pre-built financial templates from Solver Marketplace

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! Now that’s a quick deployment!

Summary

For new or existing Acumatica customers, the 2020s hold a lot of promise. Acumatica is continuously improving and updating their ERP system and has a rapidly growing marketplace with third-party apps that further enhance the benefits of Acumatica. Picking the right solutions, for reporting as an example, 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.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

What is a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report?

The Consolidated Statement of Income is consider a Call Report and is used by accountants and compliance managers to submit quarterly data as per Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) requirements. Some of the main functionality in this type of regulatory report is that it can both be used as an input form and as a formatted report ready to submit to OCC. Any data that can be imported from the ERP system or other database will automatically be pulled into the form without having to be re-entered. Only the top portion of the form is visible in the screenshot. You find an example of this type of regulatory report below.

Purpose of Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report Templates

Banks use Call Report Templates to automate the input and and submission process to OCC. Because this type of template is in a cloud-based reporting system, users can log-in and work on the report from anywhere. When used as part of good business practices in Accounting- and Compliance departments, a bank can improve its processes and save labor costs, and it can reduce the chances that data entry mistakes occur.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report Template

Here is an example of a OCC Call Report with quarterly Consolidated Statement of Income data.

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

Example of a Consolidated Statement of Income Call Report

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Regulatory Report?

The typical users of this type of regulatory report are: Accountants, compliance managers, CFOs.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Form 5300 Call Report Templates

Progressive Accounting- and Compliance departments sometimes use OCC call reports supported by internal income statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports, trial balances, transaction detail reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from bank systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

What is a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for Banks?

Top Customer by Profitability Reports are considered customer ranking reports and are used by managers and account executives to get a snapshot of the top most profitable customer by branch. Some of the main functionality in this type of report is that it groups and ranks the top 10 customers by branch location. The columns include: Average account balance, Total revenue, Total expense, and Net profit. The color indicators help the user quickly see important metrics. You find an example of this type of report below.

Purpose of Top Customers by Profitability Reports

Banks use Top Customers by Profitability Reports to at any time be able to identify their most important customers at the branch level and overall. When used as part of good business practices in Executive- and Account Management departments, a bank can improve its customer retention strategies, and it can reduce the chances that top customers are not getting the optimal nurturing.

Example of a Top Customers by Profitability Report

Here is an example of a Top Ten Customer Report that ranks each customer based on profitability and groups them by branch.

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

Example of a Top Ten Customers by Profitability Report for banks

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Report?

The typical users of this type of report are: Account executives, production managers, branch managers, analysts.

Other Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Top Customers by Profitability Reports

Progressive Executive- and Account Management departments sometimes use several different Top Customers Reports, along with detailed customer transaction reports, financial statements, annual budgets, KPI dashboards, customer dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data typically comes from bank systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples