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.

Nils Rasmussen
Solver announces BI360 support for Microsoft Dynamics GP Smartlist

Smartlist is a very popular query tool used by all Microsoft Dynamics GP customers worldwide. It has hundreds of useful SQL Views to allow GP users to filter and retrieve transactions from different tables in the GP database. BI360 now integrates to Smartlist views to provide an almost unlimited number of opportunities for business users to drill down from BI360 financial reports and into GP without having to create their own drill-down queries. For example, a department head can run a Profit & Loss report for his or her department, notice a budget variance on a row (e.g. Office Supplies) and with one click, drill down into the Accounts Payable transaction in GP and retrieve the vendor’s Purchase Order and see each line item on the purchase order. Not only does this provide instant answers to business questions without having to bother accountants and power users,  but it also does not require the user to have any knowledge of the Dynamics GP application, as both the drill down and the resulting view of the underlying transactions all happen from with the BI360 Excel-based report interface. 

For a detailed example of the BI360 integration to Smartlist, please contact Solver and ask for the white paper “Integrating BI360 to a Smartlist view”.

The BI360 Drill To function is available for all BI360 ERP integrations, including Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP, SL, Sage MAS 500 and X3.  and Epicor Prophet 21. This document provides a detailed example of how to integrate a Smartlist SQL view with the powerful Drill To feature in BI360 (version 3.5 and later) for the purpose of setting up a drill down rule that let a user drill down from a Profit & Loss report and all the way into sub-ledger (here: Accounts Payable) transactions in the GP database.

 

 

Aaron Chirolo
Microsoft Dynamics® AX 2012 Sales and Presales Industry Summit

In partnership with Microsoft, Solver will be presenting the BI360 solution at the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Industry Summit. Solver was chosen based on its proven track record with numerous Microsoft Dynamics ERP customers. Solver has been asked to present during two sessions for industry; manufacturing and public sector.

BI360 is the only business intelligence suite on the market and offers out-of-the-box integration to the Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 ERP system. BI360 is used across all industries, and has specialized financial and operational reporting designed for specific industries.(Healthcare, Retail, Public Sector and Education)

The purpose of the summit is to bring Microsoft Partners / Resellers up to speed with the Microsoft Dynamics AX industry solutions, and to enable them to professionally sell and deploy industry specific solutions. This is the first Industry Summit designed for sales and pre sales professionals.

Benefits of the training:

  • Drive a deeper understanding of how to leverage the demo tools and showcase the solution
  • Enable the sales and pre sales individuals to learn the Industry and language of industry.
  • Empower the partners to execute sales cycles and demonstrate flawlessly in order to increase our win rate.
  • Learn about the ecosystems surrounding the verticals you have chosen to target.

When: February 13, 2012 starting at 8:00AM through February 16, 2012 ending at 5:00PM

Where: Jacksonville, FL Crowne Plaza Hotel

For more information visit the Microsoft PartnerSource, and register for the training via the Microsoft Partner Learning Center.

Solver, Inc.
Solver at Business Intelligence & Analytics for Healthcare Conference & Exhibition, July 11-12, 2011

See us at the Business Intelligence & Analytics for Healthcare Conference & Exhibition, July 11-12, 2011, San Diego, CA.

Solver and InterDyn Remington will show how to use the BI360 software suite to manage data to drive quality, financial performance & accountable care.

An increasing number of healthcare provider and payer organizations are looking to business intelligence and analytics technologies to deal with the challenges of health reform, including meeting Meaningful Use requirements and creating sustainable accountable care organizations (ACOs). This Conference, which builds on our groundbreaking event in 2007, focuses on innovative applications of business intelligence and analytics, data mining, data warehousing, data integration and decision support to facilitate quality measurement and reporting and pay for performance initiatives, improve clinical outcomes, increase efficiency, reduce costs, increase revenues, deal more effectively with government regulation, increase patient satisfaction, enhance organizational agility and promote greater transparency and organizational information sharing by dismantling the silos of data typically found within healthcare organizations.

Providers and payers will face an avalanche of data in the coming years. This conference will provide detailed and practical instruction on how to effectively manage and use this data to provide the right information at the right time to the right people for optimal decision-making.