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Systematica Inc, Sara Corbett

In Today’s World of Dynamics GP Out-Of-The-Box SQL Reporting Services, Analysis Cubes, and Excel Reports, Is There Any Need for Business Intelligence Applications?


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I recall walking the ISV expo floor at Convergence a few years ago when Dynamics GP 10 was first released thinking, “Is there any need for all these Business Intelligence products anymore?”  After all, Dynamics GP 10 came with a reporting layer of SQL views, Excel Analysis Cubes, canned SQL Reporting Services and Excel reports, FRx, Smartlists, Report Writer reports, and the list goes on.  Since GP 2010 has been released you can add to the list Business Analyzer and more Excel, SQL reports and metrics.  Seriously, how many reporting options do you need in an application?  So why would anyone think about buying another application for reporting? 

For the sake of example let’s take BI360 by Solver.  The company promises “Excel-Based Reporting & Budgeting for Dynamics GP.”  So, how is this different then what is already available?  Well, after implementing the product for our customers, I can say that there definitely is an advantage if your company’s requirements are more demanding than what the out-of-the-box options cover.  Let’s look at what some of these reasons are, in more detail.

Combine Data with Other Systems – Say you like the out-of-the-box reporting options but want to combine that information with data that resides in legacy applications.  Welcome to the world of custom reports.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  BI360 allows you to connect to external systems and combine the data directly with the existing reports, data warehouses, and dashboards.

FRx / Management Reporter Alternative – You like FRx but wouldn’t it be nice if you could view the reports in Excel without having to go through the exercise of exporting and formatting them?  BI360 delivers the same type of financial data you would use FRx for but it is right out of Excel.  You want to combine this data with sub-ledger details such as vendors and customer specifics?  You are covered here as well.

Forecaster Alternative – Is your organization currently budgeting in a monstrosity of an Excel spreadsheet?  Have you checked out Forecaster but were a little hesitant to introduce another application for users to understand?  Budgeting is an area where there are limited out-of-the-box alternatives to the two extremes of Forecaster or straight Excel imports.  BI360 allows your organization to continue budgeting from an application they know how to use while removing the manual effort of creating and maintaining a Frankenstein inspired Excel spreadsheet.

Advanced Business Intelligence – If your organization could also benefit from detailed modeling and development of “what if” scenarios, standard graphical tools such as gauges and scorecards, and additional Business Intelligence capability, it is worth investigating BI360. 

Although admittedly you could probably perform similar analysis using the standard Microsoft tools, you’ll quickly spend a small fortune in either time or consulting fees.

By Mike Marcin, Systematica Inc., Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner

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