Matt Felzke
Useful Business Intelligence Add-on Products for Dynamics GP

Ever wondered why third party products are necessary with all the features and functions in Microsoft Dynamics GP for data analysis and management?  This article will explore the concept of best-in-breed software for corporate performance management.

Recently, I saw a user on LinkedIn pose a question, asking fellow Microsoft Dynamics GP users if they had some documentation regarding why the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system needs Independent Software Vendor (ISV) products.  It was an interesting discussion, perhaps a challenge to ISVs, and a legitimate question for Microsoft fans.  Several people chimed in, and a couple recurring comments seemed to organically surface.

Continue reading

Matt Felzke
Financial Consolidations for Microsoft Dynamics and Other ERPs

A financial consolidations tool is essential for any parent company that manages subsidiaries and wants unified reports to analyze overall company health.  This article will explore the key features and functions of today’s financial consolidation software.

There are plenty of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system users that are managing multiple companies or subsidiaries under a parent company.  Making sense of data from different entities, divisions, and sometimes, with different currencies can be a logistical nightmare without a professional financial consolidation and reporting tool.  As data becomes a bigger and bigger part of corporate decision-making, CEOs and CFOs of corporations that own multiple companies are looking for a Business Intelligence (BI) solution that includes a robust and business user friendly consolidation module.  For professionals in this boat, it can be frustrating, but specifically for the typical ERP users, there are not too many choices that combine power and ease of use.

Continue reading

Matt Felzke
F9 and Other Excel Add-in Report Writers

After decades of providing a simple Excel-based report writer, F9 might be seeing a resurgence of sorts.  But before you rush out to snag this product to replace FRx or Management Reporter, let’s put it to a basic features test.

Originally released in the late 1980s, F9 was initially developed as a DOS add-in and was soon built for Microsoft Windows.  It is a simple Excel add-in financial report writer, and I have heard from a handful of partners that its popularity might be picking up lately.  If you go to their web site like I did, you will see that they position Excel’s popularity as their key sales pitch.  And they’re right on the money.

Continue reading

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
Big Data Analysis and Online Marketing Costs

Have you ever wondered what the cost is for your company’s web marketing efforts? In the following paragraphs we will look at an example where we analyze web site traffic and mix this data with the online marketing expenses tracked in the accounting system.

The first thing you would do is to download web site traffic data from your Web Analytics service provider. For example, this can be Google Analytics. If you plan to do this very often, you would connect to Google Analytics using a web service. If not, you can also download the data to e.g. an Excel file, and then import it to your data warehouse where you combine it with the general ledger data, where marketing expenses are tracked.

If you own BI360, you would typically use the BI360 data warehouse as the data store where you load the web statistics data and the general ledger data used in the examples in this blog.

Once you have the data in the data warehouse, you can use the BI360 report writer to create reports that combine the web statistics and marketing expenses to calculate metrics such as Average Marketing Costs per Web Visitor, and then display the result as a formatted report or a dashboard.

Web Statistics – Report

Referral Site Analysis

Nils Rasmussen
Reporting: Start by Replacing FRx

Yes, replacing FRx is going to become a timely matter. As Microsoft continues to phase out FRx—and the upgrades and enhancements that come with it—you’ll soon find yourself looking for a user-friendly, excel-based reporting solution for leading ERPs.

When considering an FRx replacement, look for a solution like BI360 that’s completely Excel-based, with predefined templates and user-defined reports that run live on Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV, SL, CRM, Sage MAS 500 and X3, Epicor Prophet 21, and SAP Business One databases. BI360’s out-of-the-box integration and ease of use gives IT and financial professionals a seamless replacement for FRx that delivers more on every level:

These are just some of the reasons BI360’s report writer is a great replacement for FRx. For more reasons to replace FRx, join us for a webinar October 11th and see how easy Solver will make it for you to replace FRx.

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT

(To see a complete listing of all BI360 webinars click here)

Corey Barak
Live ERP Reporting versus Data Warehouse Reporting

With BI360 organizations can report live from their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or from the BI360 Data Warehouse (DW).  The question is which one is best for your organization.  Each organization needs to determine which approach is best or whether a hybrid approach is best.  This article will give the benefits of using each option.

There are three main benefits of reporting live from the ERP:

  1. Live Reporting: there is a direct connection from many ERP’s directly into BI360, which allows for live reporting on thousands of fields.  This means that once a transaction is entered into the ERP, then it is available for reporting.  There is not a delay or a process that a user needs to wait for.
  2. Cost of Configuration: BI360 is already pre-configured for thousands of fields in many ERP; therefore, once the software is installed a person can start building reports.
  3. Metadata: as mentioned, there are already multiple modules and thousands of fields already available for many ERP’s, such as all Microsoft Dynamics products, Sage MAS500 and X3, and Epicor Prophet 21.  Standard modules and fields are constantly being added at no cost.

The BI360 Data Warehouse offers many advantages as well:

  1. Speed: using the DW enables organizations to perform many tasks to speed up reports, such as indexing, using a different server which is recommended, and using the flexibility of the DW to enhance report building.
  2. Report Design: Building reports directly from ERP requires hard-coding many times, such as accounts.  For example, cash would be a specific account range and then accounts receivable would be set up as another range.  The DW allows an organization to create trees or attributes so that the report design can point to current assets and the report will dynamically expand.  This will limit the number of groupings, which will greatly enhance speed. Please refer to the White Paper BI360 White Paper – Using Attributes instead of Account Ranges.
  3. Consolidation: consolidating multiple companies from the ERP requires the multi-company tool.  The DW allows companies to build hierarchy trees and report on any level of the tree.
  4. Combine Multiple Sources: gives the ability to combine multiple data sources and report from them using one connection.

There are many advantages to using either solution, but we have many clients that use a hybrid solution.  The recommendation would be to clearly define what reports would be built connecting to the ERP vs. the DW, so that there is no confusion within the organization.  An example of a hybrid approach would be using the ERP for subledgers and the DW for budgeting and financial/operational reporting.

 

Seiji Naganuma
Take Advantage of Building Your Reports within Excel – Steps to Create Tree Navigation

In organizations with many business units (or many products or projects or any other business dimension) it is desirable to create a report output where the first sheet is a summary (“consolidated”) sheet and then the next sheets may be divisional summaries and then eventually the subsidiary or department detail.

Make reports more efficient and take advantage of building your reports within Excel. Learn more about how to create a workbook like the one described above, including an automatically generated “Tree Menu” on the first sheet in the workbook to help users navigate to any report they want in a split second. In the example screenshot below you can see what it could look like when it finished. Example: If you click on the “DivA” hyperlink in the menu it will take you to the “DivA” worksheet.

Note: In this example we are going to simulate a Profit & Loss report that should be executed for a consolidated level, a division level (here: Div A and Div B) as well as a subsidiary level.

To access this document in its entirety, log in to the Customer Portal and download the white paper today!

Solver University> Whitepapers> Reporting> Multi-level Reporting Books with Tree Navigation- BI360 Whitepaper

Nils Rasmussen
Solving the Classic Division vs HQ BI conflict with Multi-level Data Warehousing

In most mid-sized and larger organizations with multiple divisions, classic BI tools have never been good at satisfying both local division needs (detailed reporting, local budget models, etc.) as well as corporate HQ needs. In the screenshot below, you can see an interesting methodology where a company can install the BI360 data warehouse (DW) at each division as well as at corporate HQ and then transfer whatever interesting detail/summary they want from the local DWs to the central DW. Historically, this would often not be a feasible model when companies had to build homegrown, custom data warehouses from scratch, because it could get very expensive. With a pre-configured data warehouse like the BI360 DW however, it is very fast and low cost to install it anywhere in the organization where a data mart or data warehouse is needed. There are many other benefits with this multi-level DW architecture, including the ability to then use the same report writer, budgeting and dashboard (like BI360) technology everywhere, thus reducing training cost, license cost and more.

Seiji Naganuma
How To Improve Reporting Performance

One of the most common issues with reports containing a large volume of data is the report run time can take a longer time than expected. BI360 Version 3.5 has a new feature that has been added to enable parallel queries so that the SQL Server can be utilized to its maximum capabilities. Once enabled, your reports will run as fast and efficient as possible and deliver improved productivity.

By default, Report Designer, Player, and Composer do not perform parallel queries. Thus, the queries are processed one by one.  However, users can enable this by setting the Maximum Concurrent Queries to a value other than 0 in the Administration Tool (under System Settings).

Executing queries in parallel can optimize performance when generating a report in the BI360 Reporting applications. The optimal number of parallel queries depends on a number of variables such as memory on the server running the SQL server, the number of processors on the server, and other SQL Server related options. In parallel processing, each query can utilize a processor without degrading the performance of the SQL Server. Thus, if there is a Quad Processor, the initial maximum value should be set to four.

A high number does not automatically imply the best performance. Dependent on the different variables mentioned above, a peak will be reached at a certain value. The peak could also be dependent on the nature of the report since the number of generated SQL Statements play an important role. A simple report that would generate only one query would therefore not experience any performance improvements by using this option. The best way to find the peak is to simply test different values and different reports.

For certain customers, they have experienced 80% – 90% increase in efficiency when generating their reports.