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A few weeks ago, the registration website for Solver’s Customer and Partner Conference, Focus 2016 launched. This year the event, to be held August 22-25, 2016, will take place in a new location: the classically beautiful Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines in San Diego, CA.
The new conference location is just a precursor to Solver’s plans to include other new elements in their event program. In fact, many of these enhancements come from suggestions Solver’s Partners and Customers have made. So thanks to many of you for helping Solver build a better event. My name is Karen Barak. I’m a marketing and events consultant extraordinaire with a passion for excellence and exceeding expectations. Read this and future BI360 Focus 2016 blogposts to discover what’s new and what’s exciting at this year’s ultimate Customer and Partner conference on BI360.
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In this article, financial reporting for manufacturing and distribution organizations using Microsoft Dynamics NAV will take the spotlight, focusing on software and functionality offerings.

In today’s business world, Business Intelligence (BI) analyses are largely driving decision-making for the future of your organization by making sense of important company data.  Even so, it would make sense if the number of financial reporting options, as well as the different features and functionality available, is overwhelming to you, even if you are familiar with BI processes, especially when trying to achieve industry-specific analytical objectives.  Recently, I discussed the vagueness in product marketing with a finance professional for a manufacturing organization – and how frustrating it can be to try to shop for a solution that speaks to her manufacturing-specific analytical goals.  This article will discuss what you need to know regarding modern financial reporting tools to expand your Microsoft Dynamics NAV processes, with a focus on manufacturing and distribution data management and analysis.
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This article will discuss the year ahead of us, specifically in terms of what 2016 holds for Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management for modern businesses.

Another year has come and gone, seemingly faster than ever – and we’re already into the second month of 2016.  At the end of 2015 or in early January, some people were writing about Business Intelligence (BI) and Corporate Performance Management (CPM) trends they predicted we would see manifest this year.  However, much like my current approach to New Year’s resolutions, I felt it was important to let the dust settle, work through the workload hangover of the holidays, and have the New Year function as a soft opening.  This way, we can approach 2016 with a rolling start that doesn’t set us up for failure.  This article will discuss some key trends and trajectories that data management and analytics will take in 2016.
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In this article, Retail budgeting and forecasting will take center stage, specifically for Microsoft Dynamics NAV users seeking today’s planning features and functionalities.

Whether you are budgeting, forecasting, or comparing what-if scenarios for your organization, historical actuals and projected figures are required so you can strategize particularly for your retail company, maneuvering through challenges and opportunities in the upcoming months and years.  There are plenty of solutions that are impactful for retail organizations to upgrade planning procedures with Dynamics NAV, whether you elect to build your own process, depend on NAV’s built-in budgeting functionality, or go with an independent software vendor (ISV) tool.  This article will explore the most popular options for modern budgeting, forecasting, and modeling, particularly to meet your retail planning goals with Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
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If you are a retail company and use Microsoft Dynamics NAV as your accounting system, this article will discuss modern, powerful financial reporting software options.

Financial reporting is perhaps the cornerstone of Business Intelligence (BI) analyses as they quantify a company’s financial health in what should be an easily digestible set of operational and financial reports.  Business is moving so fast these days, and Retail is exactly the same.  Accounting systems, like Microsoft Dynamics NAV, usually provide built-in financial reporting functionality.  But with consumer demands for complex, richer data analyses – and reporting that is specific to your industry – the native report designer is typically subpar for end user objectives.  In this article, we’ll explore independent software vendor (ISV) offerings for dynamic, easy-to-use, and modern financial tools that provide Retail companies the analytics they require to make informed decisions about the future.
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This article will discuss budgeting solutions for Professional Sports Teams using Microsoft Dynamics GP, with a focus on feature and functionality offerings for planning processes.

Budgeting might be one of the more logistically complicated organizational processes, probably due to the tedium of manual Excel budgeting for budget managers.  Excel might be the international go-to software for finance departments, but the spreadsheet program typically can’t handle planning for organizations of a healthy size, like professional sports teams.  More Microsoft Dynamics GP customers are choosing independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting tools for expanding and updating their planning processes.  Some of today’s third party software streamlines budgeting and forecasting by zooming in on secure teamwork.  Planning processes typically require collaboration in the important effort to live within our (organizational) means, with help from historical actuals and projections from all areas of the company.
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This article will recap the Dynamics User Groups Summit, held in Reno, NV October 11-14, 2015 and discuss the highlights from the Expo floor, in the breakout sessions, and more.

Just like that, the fall event that I know a lot of Dynamics folks were excited and gearing up for, has come and gone. Last week, the Dynamics User Groups Summit for AXUG, CRMUG, GPUG, and NAVUG took Reno, Nevada by storm for a week of learning, sharing, networking, and community building, as well as some gambling and sightseeing.  This was the first time I was able to attend the event, but it really seems to be the premier consumer-driven Dynamics event, delivering visibility in terms of leadership within the user groups, as well as roadmap plans for the individual products and how the communities are navigating challenges and opportunities for best practices and best-of-breed tools that can speak to modern data management and analysis processes.  In this article, I’ll discuss the highlights from the 2015 Dynamics Communities Summit.
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In this article, data warehousing will be discussed, both generally and specifically, for retail organizations who are looking to expand their Microsoft Dynamics NAV experience.

In the fast lane that is business today, maybe especially for retail companies, data is vital.  Since data drives decisions, retail organizations are making plans to stay on track and on budget with their customers, stores, vendors, management, etc. – and data warehousing can be really effective in organizing and empowering stronger Business Intelligence (BI) analytics.  Like most software, if you aren’t familiar with it, you likely have questions.  In this article, I’ll answer frequently asked questions about data warehouse solutions for retail companies using Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
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In this article, I’ll explore what-if analytics and modeling functionality built into some of today’s budgeting software for planning that accounts for variables with Microsoft Dynamics.

Budgeting is a task that requires actual data, research, goal setting, and teamwork, and depending on your planning process, a lot can happen to change the course of your budget.  Thus, I would argue that besides historical actuals, there are enough variables in the context of financial planning for your company that makes budgeting a challenging task at times.

If you like to see some options and dynamically approach planning by being adaptable and exploratory with different outcomes, what-if analyses and modeling will allow you to do just that.  In this article, we’ll explore what-if planning and modeling functionality that comes with some modern budgeting tools for Microsoft Dynamics customers.

What is What-If Analysis? 

Basically, a what-if analysis boils down to the business end user altering the values in the cells of your budget spreadsheet to illustrate how certain changes can impact the results of your formulas.  Because a lot of companies are using Excel for budgeting, including Excel add-in planning software, we’ll talk in Excel terminology.  

For example, one term we will use is “scenario,” which is a set of values for your multiple what if analysis in excel. Users can design and save multiple sets of values on a worksheet and then substitute these scenarios into the financial plan to see the difference in outcomes. 

Another example would be if you would like to budget for your most ambitious goal setting, something in the middle, and the worst case scenario.  You can put together these three scenarios on the same spreadsheet and then, easily switch between them to see what thresholds you would need to cross to reach the results you established in your scenarios.

As we all know, budgeting is rarely a one-person responsibility, so people across the organization have to bring together actual figures and projections for the next period to set a financial plan.  If you have multiple people offering particular data in disparate spreadsheets that you’d like to utilize for scenarios, you can gather these workbooks and integrate their scenarios.  Some of the more modern solutions allow you to distribute password protected access rights, so that can smooth out collaboration and privacy concerns.  

Once you have configured and assembled all of the scenarios that you want, you can produce a summary statement that includes data from these scenarios.  This report showcases all of the scenario data in one table on a new spreadsheet.

Another Excel term that has to do with what-if analysis dashboards is a data table.  Data tables only work with one or two variables, but can include many different values for these variables. 

If you are employing a formula that has one or two variables – or even several formulas that all utilize the same variable, you can employ a data table to view all of the results in one space. 

In terms of business user friendliness, data tables are easy to understand and share because you are zooming in on only one or two variables.  While data tables are limited to just two variables, a data table can use as many different variable values as you need whereas scenarios cap out at 32 different values.  Additionally, if automated recalculation is set up for the workbook, the information in your data table recalculates automatically for fresh, real-time data.

How to Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario with What-If Analyses

What-if scenarios do have their potential drawbacks.  Because their purpose is to determine the risk and probability associated with the marketplace, evaluating past performance and projections for the future, there is a chance that the worst case scenario can happen because of the way the variables roll out in the business world.  

The worst case scenario can more or less occur even though a what-if analysis establishes that outcome as an outlier – and can you tolerate that result?  One way to be more prepared and aware of the variety of results is to do a random factor analysis, running thousands of independent trials with your software to randomly assign values to your factors. You may be wondering how to do a factor analysis in excel? The most prevalent kind of random factor analysis is called a Monte Carlo analysis, which randomly assigns factor values from a data set configured for the variable’s specific probability distribution.

Historical actuals help decision-makers understand past performance with straightforward simplicity, but revenue and expenses from last year have no influence on future performance, risk or return.  Therefore, what-if analyses can model multiple ways that your future can play out, so you can prepare to meet your own informed goals, objectives, and plans for the year.  Luckily, Microsoft Dynamics customers have a lot of options in terms of planning software.

What-if analyses and modeling are just pieces of the pie in regard to budgeting – and now couldn’t be a better time to start considering a modern, powerful budgeting tool.  While most companies are relying on homegrown processes in Excel or Microsoft’s mature budgeting offering, Forecaster, independent software vendor (ISV) products are becoming more prevalent in finance departments around the world.  Simply, this is due to the consumer-driven features and functionalities in third party offerings that provide an easy-to-use, secure, and collaborative planning for business end users.   You should consider several things, so you can pick the right solution for your planning needs.

When looking at third party software for what-if analysis dashboards, you’ll want to choose the best platform for your team. To make the best decision first evaluate the following: 

  • How secure the program is for powerful collaboration
  • Ability to fully integrate the software 
  • Comprehensive suite of BI tools
  • User friendliness of the product for your colleagues to utilize

You will also want to make sure that the tool comes with important functionality, like what-if analytics, modeling, multiple year budgets and rolling forecasts, etc.  You have a lot to consider, but budgeting as a corporate task is worth your time, money, and energy to find the premier software that can take your planning processes to the next level.  

Contact Solver for What-If Analysis Resources 

Solver offers an Excel- and Web-based budgeting module stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Planning solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities, like what-if analyses and modeling, with Microsoft Dynamics.

The information you are reading is more than 2 years old and may be outdated. Read new blogs.

In this article, Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers can learn about top features and functionalities of third party planning software options to expand budgeting and forecasting processes.

My theory for why budgeting is such a dreaded responsibility has to do with how tedious manual Excel budgeting processes can be for budget managers.  Excel might be globally entrenched in the finance culture, but the spreadsheet application performs below par for any healthy organization.  More and more Microsoft Dynamics NAV users are turning to independent software vendor (ISV) budgeting tools to expand and modernize their planning tasks.  Some of the modern ISV tools streamline and expedite budgeting and forecasting by focusing on secure collaboration.  Budgeting and forecasting are regular processes elevated by teamwork because of the necessity to live within the financial means of an organization based on actuals and research from all areas of the company.
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