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
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 ( and Jet Reports (

When it comes to Dynamics SL (supported with live reporting by BI360, BizNet, etc.), Management Reporter (MR) will also leave a void, but I don’t think SL customers will feel deprived if they have to leave the proprietary row and column report design screens of MR and instead, design their reports with modern Excel add-ins and all the formatting and  calculation functionality of Excel at their disposal. With BI360, they can even let end users run their reports in a web portal, and they can expand the reporting to include budgeting and dashboards as well.

In the case of Dynamics AX, there were a lot of database changes with AX2012 and later versions, and Management Reporter’s (MR) older, pre-dominantly FRx-based technology never really caught up to run smoothly, even with the introduction of MR’s staging database outside of AX. And of course, with MR only offering General Ledger reporting, AX customers, often larger companies with complex reporting requirements, were left with the need to combine MR with the native AX report writer, SQL Reporting Services (SSRS), AX OLAP cubes, etc., to get a complete reporting solution. Make no doubt about it – other AX competitors like Oracle and SAP are in the exact same boat with a plethora of reporting tools needed. Now, with the end of further MR development, AX customers can look to third party solutions like BI360 (reporting, budgeting, dashboards), ZAP (dashboards, reporting), Jet Reports (reporting, dashboards) and more to put in place a more unified, best of breed solution for their BI and CPM needs. And, with Power BI from Microsoft, there are plenty of dashboard and visualization options, predominantly in the cloud, as well.

Finally, there is Dynamics GP. There are 48,000 or so GP customers out there. The majority are running their financial statements in Management Reporter and some thousands are even left on MR’s predecessor, FRx.  In recent years, alternatives to MR, like BI360 (6,500+ GP fields pre-integrated), BizNet and Jet Reports, are offering GL and sub-ledger reporting that will give GP customers an “upgrade” rather than a “downgrade” to their reporting capabilities once they leave FRx and MR for their next reporting solution.

When it comes to pure budgeting and forecasting needs, there are not a lot of ISVs that come tightly integrated with Dynamics AX, GP, NAV and SL.  BI360 and Prophix are two of those solutions with both Excel and web-based data entry options, plus there are some pure play cloud vendors that have entered the space in the last couple of years. Either way, there are very good options for Dynamics customers that either need to migrate from Forecaster to get onto a modern platform with active development – or that are looking to deploy their first professional budgeting solution and replace their manual Excel models.

So, was it a smart move of Microsoft to stop development of Forecaster and MR? While it is nice for Dynamics customers to get free or almost free financial reporting and budgeting software from Microsoft, it will never spur the innovation and focus that third party, best-of-breed solutions can offer.  Instead, Microsoft can now focus on their core ERP offerings and ERP cloud initiatives, like AX7 and the upcoming Madeira solutions, and get rid of some complaints and noise around MR and Forecaster, while leaning on their world class community of partners and Independent Software Vendors to give their Dynamics customers an even better financial reporting and budgeting experience than in the past.

In summary, Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management are red hot topics for most organizations, and these Microsoft announcements should further push Microsoft Dynamics customers to explore third party, best-of-breed solutions like BI360, Jet Reports, ZAP, BizNet and more.  These tools may solve their reporting needs even better than what Management Reporter has done, but that may also put them on track to build a BI/CPM roadmap where they can expand from just reporting to include integrated budgeting and forecasting, as well as dashboards and data warehousing to combine Dynamics data with other data sources, for rich planning and analysis, and ultimately, superior decision-making capabilities.

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.

Continue reading

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.