How to Decrease the Number of Report Writers in Your Company

How many of us have more than a handful of reporting solutions across our business systems? I know it’s shocking, but most companies do use that many reporting tools across their ERP system and other databases. When looking to invest in a reporting solution, how you integrate and present your data is very important. It is the foundation when it comes to making smart business decisions. This article focuses on several options for consolidating various reporting tools to navigate your company-specific issues in managing your data.

A financial report writer allows users to build customized reports that use transactional information from the users’ data source, integrating live from your ERP system, a data warehouse (DW), or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube. Of course, an increasing number of modern financial reporting tools are just as good at reporting from CRM systems and other operational data source, thus reducing the need to buy, install and learn multiple report writers.

Reporting tools provide many benefits. For instance, report writers give updated and consolidated information as well as giving an effective means of internal communication about performance. Report writers also solve current issues faced by the company and help directors in decision making and policy framing. Finally, they provide data that is reliable, permanent, and otherwise unknown to shareholders, the Board of Directors, among others. These are all great benefits, but as mentioned above, if most organizations have more than five report writers across their business systems, that leaves room for challenges. Organizations usually have many reporting tools for separate needs, such as financial statements, sub-ledger transaction reports, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, a payroll system, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution and more.

There are multiple problems when investing in numerous reporting tools. For instance, to name a few, it gets pricey to maintain and purchase each reporting tool. It’s complex to maintain different user security models and related user management, and hard to learn all features in every reporting tool.  Finally, it is almost impossible to consolidate the information from the different report writers into one place, so users resolve to manually export to- and formatting reports in Microsoft Excel. This makes the reports prone to error and costly, as it takes a large amount of time in delaying information because users have to manually compile everything. Report writers that offer Excel add-ins, provide Excel users a jump start on learning the reporting module as most business users already have a lot of spreadsheet skills, and there are no manual Excel reporting problems involved. Web and Cloud computing are becoming more prevalent as they are increasingly becoming the present and future of Business Intelligence (BI). Many of them work in conjunction with Excel.

A common solution to modern software is to invest in one flexible report writer that can perform statistical and operational reports and financial statements, offer a DW where your data and information from different sources are compiled in a single database and the single reporter writer has access to all the information through the DW, and can distribute e-mails to end users or provide access through a web browser for end users, so they can use reports to answer any questions they may have without asking other people to run reports for them. You can consolidate your report writers and achieve additional BI capabilities by aiming for a single BI solution that covers financial and operational reporting, data warehousing, budgeting and forecasting, and dashboards/analysis. This is also known as a BI suite. A tip to consider is to make sure the BI suite eliminates or reduces the need to maintain many report writers as well as many BI tools.

To continue learning more about reducing the number of reporting tools, read the rest of the article here.


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SBS Group to Host Two Sessions at the Dynamics SL User Group Fall Conference 2016

SBS Group announced today it will be hosting two sessions at the Dynamics SL User Group Fall Conference 2016. SBS Group, a leading information technology firm, is a Gold Sponsor at the annual event. Representatives will be present throughout the duration of the conference at Booth #16.

dynamics sl user groupThe first session from SBS Group is entitled “The Future of Dynamics Field Service Management” and will be on September 28, 2016, from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. This session will touch on the evolution of field service management over the past decade through the advancements of various cloud technologies. Also, the impact of these advancements on the Dynamics SL community and the availability of field service management to Dynamics SL users will be discussed.

The second session being held is entitled “FieldOne – Field Service Management from Microsoft”. This session will be on September 29, 2016, from 2:45 – 3:15 p.m. Microsoft’s field service management solution will be the topic of this session including its capabilities and advantages for Dynamics SL users. Both sessions will be presented by James Bowman, President and CEO of SBS Group.

The Dynamics SL User Group Fall Conference 2016 will be held at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, CA on September 28 – 30, 2016. The three-day event will feature training sessions, demonstrations and deep dive sessions with all topics focusing on Microsoft Dynamics SL. The Dynamics SL User Group is an association of professionals interested in the development and optimized use of Microsoft Dynamics SL. To learn more about the Fall Conference, visit http://www.msdslug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=94.

About SBS Group
SBS Group is a national Microsoft master VAR (Value Added Reseller) with Gold level competency in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Over the past 30 years, they have been recognized as Microsoft Partner of the Year, Inner Circle Member and Microsoft President’s Club member multiple times. The company is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey and operates offices across North America. For more information, please visit SBS Group’s website at http://www.sbsgroupusa.com. Follow us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/company/sbs-group, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sbsgroup and find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SBSGroupUSA.


To read the full release, click here.

New Video Release: Managing Resources in Project-Based Businesses (2 mins 44 sec)

This brief video demonstration is for current and prospective Microsoft Dynamics AX customers seeking an enterprise solution for their professional services firm to assist in resource management.

The workforce of professional services firms is a vital factor to success. High utilization of the workforce is a sign of proper resource allocation and a growing business. To ensure smooth project delivery and satisfied customers, project resource managers need to be able to optimize the workforce’s skill sets and availability. After all, the same employee can’t work on every project and not every employee is a proper fit to what the customer needs. Therefore, it is important for managers to be able to easily see the skill sets and availability of their workforce, so they can adequately assign them to projects.

On AXIO for Professional Services powered by Microsoft Dynamics AX, resource/workforce management is streamlined for those managers balancing several projects. In just a few clicks, project managers can access dashboards which give them the skill sets and availability of their workforce and properly assign them to match the customer’s and the project’s needs. Project managers can even set up AXIO to automatically assign projects to employees!

Watch as a Dynamics AX expert demonstrates the resource/workforce management capability of AXIO for Professional Services.


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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pricing and Implementation Costs

There has been a much speculation from the Dynamics community of customers and resellers as to the ultimate release of pricing for Microsoft Dynamics 365.  Hi-tech media outlets, industry analysts, and bloggers are having a field day.  Even competitors have gotten into the game.  Speculation turned into “scooping” when a Microsoft reseller allegedly let the virtual cat out of the bag after an internal meeting between Microsoft and their channel partners.

I’m assuming that whatever they posted is either wrong or covered under NDA (non-disclosure agreement) because most of those posts have since disappeared.  A few remain, like these posts from ZDNet, Winbeta.org and this from mspoweruser.com.

I certainly understand why everyone is interested in writing about pricing for Dynamics 365, but the fact is that pricing has not been formally announced and isn’t even the most exciting thing about this launch.  It’s just the most exciting thing to write about because it is still a big secret.  Microsoft will determine the most competitive subscription cost for Dynamics 365 and will surely reward customers that invest more heavily in the Microsoft platform by giving the best pricing.  That’s the way it works, right?

Either way, we’ll all know in a few weeks when official announcements are made.  Between now and then, it is our job to figure out what the true business value of this announcement is.  Resellers need to evaluate the impact to their clients and prospects.  Customers need to determine the impact for their company.  And industry pundits need to continue speculating non-stop until the next headline trumps it. In the meantime, it’s back to sorting out how Dynamics 365 will (or will not) improve on their current offerings.

Let’s start with customers…

If you already own a Microsoft Dynamics solution, you’re probably wondering how this will affect your particular deployment. Below are a few of the questions we’re receiving from our customer base:

Will we get more features with Dynamics 365?  

That’s a loaded question.  Dynamics 365 is a roll-up of multiple products, including their flagship ERP, CRM and Office suites, so the answer is likely “yes” for most Dynamics customers.  Those using only Dynamics AX or Dynamics NAV may choose to implement new products, like sales and customer service (originally part of Dynamics CRM).  There are other products and features being offered as well.  Learn about other components in my earlier post titled “Dynamics 365 will do for ERP and CRM what Microsoft Office did for Word, Excel and Project?”.

Dynamics 365 will be accessible over multiple devices with PowerApps

In addition to new products, there is the “common data model” (referred to as CDM) that will deliver a vast array of features and capabilities across all components in Dynamics 365.  The Microsoft Common Data Model comes with hundreds of entities established over years of working with enterprise customers. Use the same data with any of the platform tools, add custom entities, and rest easy with built-in scalability and analytics. The potential for integrating across solutions not only increases considerably but the technical requirements to do so decrease dramatically.  Microsoft’s PowerApps and Flow solutions (also included) open up a wide range of possibilities.  Read here to learn more.

Will we need to re-implement? Re-train?

The right question is “should we re-implement?”.  If you were previously using Dynamics AX, CRM or Office 365 then there will be no required re-implementation as the products are largely the same as before.  Even third-party add-in solutions should continue to work without further investment.

However, companies that decide to implement additional components of the solution and take advantage of the slew of included cloud-driven capabilities, may decide to rethink their current implementation.

Microsoft Dynamics customers will be able to bring data they already rely on together without migrating a thing. They will be able to utilize PowerApps to build mobile apps using a rich set of connectors to enterprise data, including on-premises sources and their own APIs.

In a company blog post announcing Microsoft Dynamics 365, Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s corporate VP for cloud and enterprise, described Dynamics 365 and a suite of tools called AppSource as a move toward offering more modern and intelligent business apps.

Dynamics 365 will morph Microsoft’s existing disparate Dynamics CRM and ERP cloud solutions into a single cloud service with specific apps such as Financials, Field Service, Sales, Operations, Marketing, Project Service Automation and Customer Service. While each are part of a common service that can be deployed independently, allowing customers to pay just for apps they require, they work together as customers add on capabilities”, Numoto said.

Microsoft is also natively embedding its Power BI dashboard tool and Cortana Intelligence, which he said will “help customers achieve their business goals with predictive insights, prescriptive advice and actionable next steps.”

Imagine how you might have implemented differently if your CRM sales, service, and support information was more accessible from your ERP solution (or vice-versa).

Will we be working directly with Microsoft or still through a partner?

Things are evolving quickly in the Microsoft ecosystem, and some partners are expanding their business as a result while others are struggling to keep up.  Most partners, especially smaller partners, have expertise that is limited to individual components.  Typically, we see that AX partners know AX, CRM partners know CRM and platform partners know the platform.  Only a handful of partners truly understands how to help their customers take advantage of the entire Microsoft stack.

If you feel your partner will be unable to help you navigate across multiple domain areas, then you should look around.  However, Microsoft will not force you to change partners as long as that partner has completed the certifications necessary to support you in the products you choose to implement.

How about companies who are considering Microsoft Dynamics?

Most of what I’ve written above also applies to companies considering a change away from their current non-Microsoft solution.  Cloud, subscription pricing, bundling and a common data model are all checks in the positive column for most companies considering new solutions.

A common data model and powerful tools will extend Dynamics 365 across processes, teams and devices

Office 365 is a cost that most companies are, or will be, incurring anyway so these costs should be factored into any decision.  Cortana Intelligence, mobile app development, workflow deployment.  Lower and upper mid-marketing companies, as well as pure enterprise companies, may be spending money here too.  All in the package.  When these are factored in, it will be extremely difficult for other providers to compete.

Should customers plan on an increase or decrease in costs for Dynamics 365?

That’s the $64 question.  Most of the speculation has been that companies using one or two modules in Dynamics 365 will not experience any demonstrable change in costs.  And, those investing in multiple models or taking advantage of “bundles” will realize considerable savings.

Dynamics 365 enables business process automation across the entire company

The real cost impact will be in how Dynamics customers choose to take advantage of the change.  We have been fortunate enough to be involved throughout the evolution of Dynamics 365, so we have quite a bit of insight.  Some we can share and will continue to do so in this blog series.  Some we cannot.

I can tell you that our team is extremely energized by the potential for our customers.  We have already published multiple solutions in Microsoft AppSource and are working on enhancements to them (and new solutions) even now.  We believe that pricing for Microsoft Dynamics 365 will be competitive and we know that there is no other solution on the market today that can match the depth of Dynamics 365.

More to come very soon!

Robbie Morrison
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison


 


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New Video Release: Managing Contractual Changes with Ease (3 min 14 sec)

This brief video demonstration is for current and prospective Microsoft Dynamics AX seeking an enterprise solution to assist contract management and contractual changes.

Customers in today’s cloud-first and mobile-first world expect flexibility. Unfortunately, flexibility isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking of contractual changes. Often times, changing aspects of contracts is costly, slows down the order process and negatively impacts the user’s experience.

This is not the case on AXIO Enterprise Solutions powered by Microsoft Dynamics AX. SBS Group’s AXIO solutions make dealing with contractual changes a breeze. Your back-office staff can make manual changes to contracts easily – guided tasks are even in place to show them how to do it! The revenue recognition process and even project re-alignment become simpler with AXIO. Now that the headaches are relieved and time is saved, users can focus on delivering excellent customer service.

Watch a Dynamics AX expert demonstrate just how easy it is to manage contractual changes on AXIO Enterprise Solutions powered by Microsoft Dynamics AX.

 


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Videos of Microsoft Dynamics AX with AXIO Professional Services

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