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What’s what when it comes to Business Intelligence?

We look at business intelligence and try to highlight the pros and cons of different reporting methods from your ERP application, Microsoft Dynamics-NAV.

Hopefully for most, gone are the days when someone goes into your accounting system and presses a button for a report to run, only to have to take a coffee break, or at worst a lunch break, while they wait for it to be completed!

If however, those days aren’t gone, then this blog is for you.

What are the options?

The choice of options for reporting in Microsoft Dynamics, SQL and also third party applications can read like the exhaustive menu from a massive restaurant with too many cooks. So I’ll try to give you the simplified lunch menu.

Is there one application to use?

The simple answer is, the right platform should be driven by your reporting audience.

Let’s start off with your non ERP users and remote workers. Back in the day these users would have to ask a member of the finance team to service their data requests. SQL reports work well here, but SQL reports are non-configurable, unless you have SQL skills and now its common place to deploy a BI package for self-service. Here is where I believe considerable advancements have been made in technology in the use of cubing tools.

What’s Cubing?

Cubing is where you can upload data schemas, transactions etc. and the application can slice this data by any metric in the cube.

There are a whole host of enterprise packages that will let you cube your data. All have their merits, but we at Total Enterprise Solutions believe the Jet Enterprise package really hits home here.

Jet specialise in Microsoft Dynamics so, as soon as you take the CD out of the box and install it, you have a cube that’s ready to use and based on all of your ledger tables.

Since we specialise in LS NAV as well, there is a cube for that too. Similarly, as soon as it’s out of the box it will allow you to setup your retail dashboards and integrate your data to your hearts content.

Is this the only enterprise tool we recommend?

Absolutely not, bearing in mind that Jet requires an excel skillset to set up and also still requires you to access a spreadsheet for refreshing the data.

We now interrupt this piece to offer you some information that’s hot off the press!

Power BI

We attended a Microsoft road show last month focussing on Power BI. Our initial reaction was, “Wow, what an excellent application!”

Where Jet works in excel, Power BI utilises a browser environment which is fantastic for a user base with little or no excel skills, but you can also export to excel if you want that familiar environment. We also like the range of ways you can visualise your data and the fact that it’s so easy to use. After ten minutes of uploading test data we were finding information about Cronos that we never knew was there, even after all these years.

Does this mean that the inherent reports straight from the NAV platform are null and void now? Absolutely not. These are now reserved for your financial reports, where the likes of P&L and balance sheet come second nature, alongside the ability to slice and dice your chart of accounts.

So there you go, there is no one product to service each member of your user base. Some companies may tell you this, but we find the sites that get the most out of their solutions, primarily around the information that is extracted and digested, are the ones using a combination of packages.

Why wouldn’t a Finance Director want his management accounts straight out of the finance system and a retail manager out of an excel spreadsheet? The choice is yours.

If you want to discuss your ERP reporting requirements in more detail, feel free to get in touch today.