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
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!

Nils Rasmussen
Better Reports = Better Decisions

If you took a poll to find out which financial reports businesses most frequently use to monitor their performance and decision-making, you’d probably get hundreds of answers. But if we drilled deeper into the questioning, we would probably start seeing the 80/20 rule take effect. In other words, 20% of a company’s reports are used for 80% of performance monitoring and decision-making.

P&L Report

So, which reports would you say are the top 4-5 that truly help you get the FULL picture (albeit at 10,000 foot level of what is going on with the company)?

1. Profit & Loss Report with all the typical columns (current month actuals, last month, last month prior year, budget, year-to-date, etc.)?

2. Balance Sheet?

3. Cash Flow?

4. Narrative management summary report?

Narrative Report

5. KPI/Scorecard report for the top metrics?

6. Sales report showing e.g. the top 50 sales transactions for the month?

7. Payables report showing e.g. the top 50 payments made this month?

8. Receivables report showing e.g. the top 50 aging receivables?

9. Graphical trend reports or dashboards?

10. Other reports?

Aging Report

Assuming you have a set of “favorite” reports that you and your managers consistently use to help manage the company, here are the next questions:

•  Do you have the technology to produce all of these reports as part of an automated process, or is it a manual process to pull everything together and to deliver it to your management team?
• Do you have a process to capture the discussions once managers have reviewed the reports?
•  Do you have agreed upon thresholds in your report package that can trigger management ACTIONS based on the thresholds (for example, if free cash flow passes a certain level, a manager can make a certain investment without delaying the decision with approvals and meetings)?

Revenue Analysis


Hopefully this could spark ideas for anyone trying to put together the ”ultimate” management report package.

Nils Rasmussen
BI360 for Microsoft CRM: Free White Paper

Every Microsoft CRM customer seems to be exporting data to Excel. Now, with BI360, you can have completely automated live Excel-based reporting for fully formatted and graphical reports. BI360’s Excel- and web-based report writer is not only easy to use, but is one of the most powerful reporting tools on the market. Its live integration with MS CRM delivers incredible flexibility and performance-driven benefits:

• Flexible, user-friendly report writer for your CRM data.

• Run reports on demand from Excel, web or auto-distribute reports by email.

• Any entries in MS CRM are immediately available in BI360 reports with no delaying transfer to OLAP cubes or external systems.

• Install BI360, download the pre-built CRM report templates and in less than 5 minutes start seeing your CRM data in ways you have never been able to before.

• Integration is out-of-the-box, with an interface to add custom CRM fields if needed.

• Pre-joined tables across CRM (e.g. Owner, Account, etc.)

• Pre-defined period logic (CRM date fields linked to weeks/months/etc. for easy reporting on e.g. trends, month-to-date, year-to-date, etc.)

• Get increased visibility and control of your CRM data and at the same time watch the sales team quickly become motivated to capture updated data in CRM due to vastly improved reporting output.

Additionally, BI360 delivers out-of-the box integration with the following CRM modules:

• Accounts
• Contacts
• Opportunities
• Leads
• Campaigns
• Competitors
• Products
• Quotes
• Sales Orders

For a list of FAQs, and even more options and examples for reporting, planning and dashboards that run live on MS CRM, get our free white paper here.

Nils Rasmussen
BI here, there….BI everywhere

These days, it is pretty hard not to notice all the buzz around Business Intelligence (“BI”). If you go to the trade show floor at conferences such as Microsoft Convergence or World Wide Partner Conference, you will see more BI products than ever. While popular media have moved on to focus on Big Data to find the latest scoop about what the world thinks about your products, or mobile BI that lets you carry with you analytical information everywhere, most Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Intacct, Netsuite, etc. customers are still trying to figure out more down-to-earth topics, such as whether to use the out-of-the box report writer that came with their ERP system or to invest in a best-of-breed Excel- or web-based reporting solution.

Every employee in the company will use a BI tool by 2020
Whether it is an accountant producing a profitability report with trend analysis, or one of the company’s truck drivers using his smart phone to review if he has hauled more metric tons of cargo this month compared to last month and compared to other drivers, self-service BI is quickly on the rise across the world.

A few months ago, Gartner Group presented in-depth research on where the BI market is going from now to 2020. Here are some key points:

• Of all software categories, BI software was ranked as the #1 investment priority for CIOs.

• While mega vendors like SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft still dominate the BI market with their “machine gun” approach of supplying a large number of tools, smaller best-of-breed players are growing in popularity.

•On the average, BI is today reaching about 25% of a company and the IT department is still heavily involved as an enabler (e.g. helping business users write SSRS reports, manage OLAP cubes, etc.). However, by 2014, BI will reach as many as 50% of users in the company and business users are taking control of the tools required to write reports, perform analysis, etc. By 2020, it is predicted that 100% of employees in an organization will have some sort of access to BI tools.

Now, we can ask ourselves where this tremendous growth in BI interest is coming from and why? Some of the answers lie in legacy reporting tools having survived for so many years as “the BI solution” because prices of high-end BI software and data warehouse projects have been out of reach for small and mid-sized companies. For example, for the typical Dynamics ERP customer, that means that they are still building row and column tables in FRx/Management reporter (MR), they are still calling their IT department or vendor when they need to build or change an SSRS report, or modify a SQL view or an OLAP cube. Meanwhile, almost every single business user of these tools will manually export their FRx/MR financial reports, SSRS reports and custom queries to Excel every day, week and month in order to work with- and analyze the data in an environment where they are comfortable on their own without having to ask for help. Is this process ideal for an organization operating in the competitive environment of 2013? Clearly not! That is why the BI software industry is on fire these days, and ERP and CRM customers are starting to find solutions that enable automation, analysis and self-service far beyond the classic BI solutions that come pre-packaged from their vendor.

A lot of noise and a lot of BI tools!
Once the finance and accounting department have started “smelling” the BI cookies and they follow the scent to the kitchen, they realize that there are a lot of cookies in the jar and that is when a sense of confusion and despair often sets in and they start asking themselves; What does BI really mean to my company? Do I need a report writer or a dashboard? What about automating my manual spreadsheet budgeting process? Do I need a data warehouse or is all the valuable data in the company coming from the ERP database?

There is no simple answer. Sometimes you see posts on Internet forums with questions like: “which BI tool is the best one?”. The answer is: It depends. What can you afford? What do you have time and skills to implement? In addition to your ERP and CRM data, what are your data sources? What type of presentation layer do your users need to perform their analysis and decision-making quickly and without technical assistance.

Summary
As the BI wave rolls forward, a few things are likely to happen:

1. ERP customers will start demanding best-of-breed self-service BI that they can take full ownership of and that will give their employees the information they require in a timely fashion and in a format that is conducive to efficient analysis.

2. ERP resellers and ISVs will increase their own investments in staff training to present and implement BI as part of their value proposition.

3. BI vendors will have to set price points that are affordable for wide-scale roll-outs and build solutions that are pre-integrated across ERP and CRM modules plus that allows for integration with other data sources as well. This will drive the need for affordable data warehousing solutions that can combine valuable data into single data silos for easy reporting, budgeting and analysis.

4. Finally, there is another revolution happening out there and that is the emergence of Enterprise Collaboration Portals, which provides a “social” forum for the whole company to discuss and retain important problems, projects, ideas and opportunities. Over the next few years, this technology will start facilitating the flow of “people communication” that relates to ERP, CRM and BI tools, to create searchable knowledge databases that significantly will improve decision-making and process improvement.

The best way to approach these trends is to get educated on what the available BI solutions have to offer, review internal needs and then sit down and come up with a multi-year BI strategy that starts with the most dire needs and then takes a cohesive but step-wise approach to fulfilling all the key BI requirements of the organization.

To learn more about how Solver is embracing these trends with its BI360 solution, please visit www.solverusa.com.