Nils Rasmussen

About Nils Rasmussen

As the CEO of Solver, Nils Rasmussen is responsible for the development of both overall company strategy as well as software & services delivery. Nils founded Solver, Inc. in December, 1996. Since then, he has led the Solver team to complete close to 1,000 implementations worldwide. Prior to this, he worked in international sales and consulting roles in various countries.

Nils Rasmussen
With Management Reporter riding into the Sunset, what is next?

As many Management Reporter (MR) customers and partners have now heard, there were two announcements from Microsoft in the past few weeks about the future of Management Reporter: one was at the Amplify conference in Anaheim, California on Sunday, May 22 last month, and the other was in writing and can be found here. This blog is a follow up to the first one, written after the Amplify conference, but now with more information available from Microsoft.

For people that like to analyze and read between the lines in vendor announcements, you can read into what is meant with “no major enhancements (of MR for GP)”. For anyone that has been in the software industry for a while, it typically means one thing: MR is going on life support, but there will be bug fixes and maybe some small improvements as well as the typical 10 years of support that Microsoft often offers on major products that are being sunset.

What about MR for Dynamics GP (whose team the recent MR announcement came from) vs Dynamics SL and Dynamics AX? The recent MR announcement came from the GP team, so the slowdown of MR development there is confirmed. Now, MR supposedly has the same engine, albeit different integrations, regardless of it being AX, GP or SL, so it would be quite strange if there would be full development of deep MR functionality (not talking User Interface here) for AX, but not for GP. However, that is just speculation and for sure there will be someone taking care of MR, at least for AX 7/cloud and maybe later AX updates. So, let’s leave that door open as AX in the cloud is a very high priority for Microsoft.

And, it is a known fact that SL has a smaller customer base than GP and thus, less resources behind it, so although there has not been any MR announcements from the SL team, it would be very strange if MR’s destiny is not the same there as it is for GP customers using MR.

What about Dynamics NAV? Microsoft tried to use MR on NAV for a while, but it was discontinued a while back because MR really did not work well on NAV’s multi-dimensional database, and NAV customers moved on and today, use the native NAV report writer or ISVs, like Jet Reports and BI360.

However, Dynamics customers have many choices, probably more than most ERP systems on the market, and reporting and CPM vendors are as usual standing ready to help the customers to greener pastures when they decide the time is right to move off MR.

With that said, while existing customers that are completely happy with MR can easily stay the course with MR for a while, new customers should then decide if it is worth the risk to invest time and money in MR report writing or if they should implement a closely integrated ISV product that does the same as MR and maybe more, like reporting on both GL and sub-ledger data. There are several of these products, including BI360, BizNet, Jet Reports, Prophix and ZAP. Some of them using Excel and some using browser interfaces or both. As with any type of ISV product in the ERP space, the goal of an ISV is to stay relevant and grow by always staying ahead of the ERP vendor’s own functionality, which is often free and embedded, like you will see with MR for AX on Azure.

So, let’s assume that MR has reached its retirement age for all or most of the Dynamics ERPs and is now moving into the retirement home to enjoy the rest of its life there, with “minor releases.” What is next from Microsoft? Are they going to ignore the need for financial reporting? Are they going to look beyond MR’s limitation to only report on GL data? What about budgeting features or embedded visualizations?

Let’s make some educated guesses about the alternatives Microsoft may be thinking about for financial reporting and corporate performance management (CPM). Here are some potential options (not in order of likelihood):

Option 1:

Microsoft can change their strategy on MR and rebuild it into a modern, non-proprietary, cloud friendly report writer and try to expand it into also reporting on sub-ledgers, so customers don’t need to use two or more report writers for their different ERP reporting requirements.

Option 2:

Microsoft can keep MR on life support until they launch a brand new tool. Who knows, maybe they are in stealth mode and already working on something related to expansion of Power BI into a more full-fledged combined BI and CPM tool?

Option 3:

Microsoft can acquire a CPM vendor. It would then be likely be a modern, cloud-based tool since Microsoft is extremely focused on the cloud in almost all regards these days.

Option 4:

Microsoft can develop partnerships with financial reporting or full-fledged CPM vendors while they figure out the future, which again will likely be #2 or #3 above, or they may lean on their ISV channel for the longer term.

Ultimately, Microsoft knows that they will need a good reporting and budgeting tool for AX Cloud, Madeira and NAV, as these three ERPs seems to be what they bet their long term cloud and on-premise presence on.

In the meantime, Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL customers probably have the best ISV community of any their ERP competitors, so there are plenty of pre-integrated third party solutions ready to take Microsoft Dynamics’ financial reporting to the next level. What that next level is can be food for thought in a future blog.

Nils Rasmussen
End of development for Microsoft’s Forecaster and Management Reporter tools – now what?

Recently, in two separate announcements, Microsoft has stated that they will no longer develop their Forecaster budgeting tool and their Management Reporter financial report writer. How does this impact the almost 200,000 Dynamics AX, GP, SL and NAV customers out there? Is it a bad thing or may it be a smart move by Microsoft?

To take Dynamics NAV first, Management Reporter has not supported NAV for a while and most customers look to best-of-breed third party solutions with a live NAV integration, such as the Excel-based report writers like BI360 (www.solverglobal.com) and Jet Reports (www.jetreports.com).

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Nils Rasmussen
Microsoft BI Stack or Best-of-Breed BI for Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL?

When it comes to selecting a Business Intelligence (BI) solution to get the most out of your Microsoft Dynamics ERP investment, you have four choices:

1) Use the tools that come natively embedded within different Dynamics ERPs
2) Extend or replace the native ERP BI tools with the Microsoft BI stack of tools
3) Implement a best-of-breed third party solution
4) Some combination of the three options above

These options and much of the discussion below would apply for any ERP system, not just the Dynamics (AX, NAV, GP and SL).  This decision has a critical impact on the success of an ERP/BI deployment, and is often not discussed as thoroughly as it should be during the ERP/BI pre-sales process.

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Nils Rasmussen
Partners and Family, It’s the Same Thing.

At Solver, our partner-centric culture is one of the biggest reasons behind our success. Our partners help us deliver superior BI solutions to the marketplace in a way that just wouldn’t be possible through direct sales. We see our partner channel as part of our own organization and treat them like our own employees. In fact, I see our partners as the reason we grew our customerbase in record numbers worldwide this year. While North America and EMEA have been core markets since we launched BI360 four years ago, we are now also firmly established in the Asia-Pacific region, less than two years after we entered the market there, and we have started our roll-out in Latin America.

We’ve learned through experience that if you want to take your product worldwide, there’s no better way than through strong partnerships. There are a few reasons for this. First, they can be local everywhere in the world. They are literally your “eyes and ears on the street.” This eliminates the need for offices in every country. Partners know the local cultures, they know local transactional systems that we integrate with and so on. So if you’re going to succeed with a channel strategy, you need to consider your partner channel part of your own family, because in a very real sense, they are.

Lastly, I would advise anyone looking to develop a successful partner strategy to invest in them like you would your own employees. Because essentially, they are! They require the same training and need the same access to resources as your own staff. When you achieve that, you’ll achieve nirvana with your partner channel. Admittedly, we’re still fine-tuning our strategy after just four years, but I would say that we are well above most other partner channel-driven organizations in our space. I also believe a good channel strategy is a little science and a little art. The scientific part can be adjusted, tweaked and tested, and the artistic part is about connecting with your people to achieve mutual success. I’m always asking: how can I better enable my partner channel? And I’m excited to see the results in 2014!

Watch this video to learn more about our partner program offerings and reasons for success!

Nils Rasmussen
BI360 Budgeting and Reporting: Usability from the Inside Out

One of the reasons Solver’s software is so intuitive and easy to use is because we built it for non-technical users. In fact, before we developed our software, we were business intelligence consultants, so we understood the unique challenges BI users faced. In the ’80s and ’90s, organizations typically had technical reporting experts in their finance department, or they used IT staff to do this—formal experts who were responsible for creating reports, budget models, etc.

When the 2000s came along, there was more focus on usability and ease of use. As a result, many of the tools from the 90’s were simply repurposed with a more user-friendly skin, but still had legacy platforms under the hood. This required a great deal of technology to be put in place before the end users could effectively use these tools. Even then, BI tools were still fairly rigid and difficult to use.

When we created the blue print for BI360 in 2007, we started from a completely different angle. Ease of use was our number one priority. Every time we built a feature into the product, we measured its success through usability testing. When we finished and launched BI360 in 2009, customers immediately recognized the difference. Suddenly, normal business users could take ownership of and create useful reports, budget models, dashboards, and even manage the data warehouse. It completely shifted the power from traditional finance users to everyday business users.

Nils Rasmussen
BI360 Dashboards: Powerful Insight in Just Minutes

Getting an overview of your sales, top customers and products is quick and easy with BI360 dashboards. With intuitive, drag-and-drop simplicity, you can customize your data and create dashboards on the fly with pre-defined widgets and modules.

BI360 dashboards are web-based for both designers and end users, and offer total visibility into your business. Like every other BI360 product, our dashboards are created for business users and don’t require advanced levels of technical expertise. Plus, they offer out of the box integration for real-time ERP or data warehouse-driven dashboards. BI360 dashboards are part of the BI360 Portal and come integrated with the BI360 web reporting module, providing a single environment both for financial reporting and for dashboards. In other words, if a manager is looking at a sales dashboard, he or she is just a click away from running a live balance sheet report and drilling down into a cash account to see live transactions from the ERP database. BI360  is the only BI suite that provides this type of flexibility within a single solution and a single web portal!

Watch this quick demo of how to easily design your own dashboards with key metrics in just minutes!

Nils Rasmussen
Built for the Mid-Market from the Beginning.

People often ask me about our focus on the mid-market. There’s no question this is our area of strength. We’ve always been committed to over-delivering for our partners and customers, most of which happen to be in the mid-market. While we have customers in the multi-billion dollar revenue range, and our BI360 solution can certainly address the needs of any-sized enterprise, we like the mid-market because we know we can out-perform the competition and over-deliver on world-class customer service.

Another reason we thrive in the mid-market is because that’s where we started. Even our old consulting-focused business in the past has always been in the mid-market. We started working with ERP systems and grew our partner channel, all of which are pretty much focused on mid-market and the Microsoft platform.

Lastly, mid-market organizations traditionally haven’t needed—and probably couldn’t have afforded—a full-blown business intelligence solution. When I say business intelligence, I define that as financial reporting, consolidations, operational reporting, budgeting, forecasting, dashboards and data warehousing. We’ve always seen this as a competitive advantage, because our BI360 solution does provide all of these capabilities, and is priced for the mid-market enterprise.

As we continue to develop cutting-edge BI solutions for the mid-market, we’ll also continue to expand and serve those larger customers who want a highly flexible, cost-effective BI solution, some of them are currently using legacy solutions like Hyperion and Cognos and looking for a more modern platform that their business users can manage without constant IT or consulting assistance. But truth be told, we’ll focus on listening to our customers’ needs and develop BI360 accordingly, always thinking about ease-of-use when we develop new functionality, because that’s where we’ve built our foundation from the beginning!

 

Nils Rasmussen
What Makes a Great Reporting Solution? A Few Things to Consider.

There are a number of features that are desirable in a “report writer” today. At the core, it is important to have great calculation features and flexible formatting in order to produce high-quality financial statements, as well as operational (sub-ledger) reports. There is little doubt that Excel add-ins tend to be much stronger in this area than proprietary reporting tools.

On a higher level, there are other features to consider such as:

  • Automated report distribution to end-users.
  • A web-based front-end option for end users to run their own reports.
  • Mobile access for the busy executive that wants to see fresh financials on the go.
  • Collaborative features so managers can discuss and explain variances and other pertinent observations while analyzing a report.
  • Integration of the report writer beyond the live ERP database, such as to a Budgeting module and data warehouse that also can integrate other data sources.
  • Ad-hoc reporting (when a user needs an answer on the fly and it does not make sense to run or build a formatted report).

We designed the BI360 4.0 reporting module with all of the above criteria in mind. Hopefully, we are pushing the limits of the concept of a “report writer” to the next level so financial professionals and end users can help drive efficiency and analytical capabilities in their organizations.

Nils Rasmussen
Committed to Our Partners

With the New Year around the corner, it’s the perfect time to announce all the exciting upcoming initiatives we have planned for our amazing partners. We value our partner relationships above all else and we’re more committed than ever to creating a superior partner experience.

Q1 On-site Training in LA Office
Solver is offering a 2-Day on-site training course that provides a deep dive into learning both BI360 Reporting and Budgeting module.

  • BI360 Reporting, January 29-39, 2014
  • BI360 Budgeting, March 6-7 BI360 Budgeting

For more information, please email our Project Manager Diana Sanchez to register today!!!

Additionally, in Q2 Solver will be hosting 2-Day Onsite training on the East Coast and the dates will be announced before the end of the year.

Re-launch of Solver University
We have 24 new videos that are now available on Solver’s partner portal. This is a result of recording all the sessions during our Focus 2013 User Conference so BI360 users worldwide can benefit from content covered by Solver Consultants and BI360 product experts. You’ll find videos on topics such as Excel Tips and Tricks, Advanced Reporting, Tips for Budgeting and Forecasting, Product Roadmap, and more.

Additionally, we’ll be publishing all whitepapers associated with Focus 2013 and posting them to the portal this month. Look for a new Solver University web portal platform in Q1 of 2014, which will offer a curriculum-based, consolidated view of all Solver training courses in one place.

These are just a few ways we will continue to provide our partners leading-edge business intelligence software solutions in 2014! More to come!

Already a partner? Login to the Partner Portal to access the new training videos. .

2013 Partner Awards Categories
Solver would like to show appreciation to its top partners by recognizing these partners.

The BI360 Partner Awards are issued by category:

  • Partner of the Year (All)
  • EMEA Partner of the Year
  • APAC Partner of the Year
  • Rookie Partner of the Year/li>
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX – Partner of the Year
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP – Partner of the Year
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV – Partner of the Year
  • Microsoft Dynamics SL – Partner of the Year
  • Sage – Partner of the Year

To learn more about how to become a BI360 Partner and gain access our portal, click here.

Nils Rasmussen
Transform your Monthly Reports with BI360 Reporting

If you’re like most business and financial professionals, you look forward to creating your monthly reports like a trip to the dentist. But with BI360, you can transform your monthly reports into a single “DecisionPack” report package with everything you need to run a business unit. Auto generated executive summaries, scorecards for KPIs, financial and operational reports, and dashboards, all result in decision advice based on your predetermined goals. And, this report package can be scheduled for automatic distribution or run on-demand with drill-down to answer even the most detailed questions.

This DecisionPack report package can be populated dynamically, live from your ERP system or from the BI360 data warehouse. It can be run on-demand or published for distribution. Simply press run, and the report executes a call-out to your ERP system or data warehouse, resulting in presentation-quality reports.

From executive summaries to sub-ledger details, see how BI360 Reporting will transform your monthly reports into amazing financial and operational reports with ease. Watch the video!