Microsoft Dynamics 2013 Released

The long awaited Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 was recently released right before the holiday season.  The latest version has a number of new features which we have previously discussed in this blog, the most important of which is greater flexibility in terms of deployment.  Also included is RapidStart Services, a tool designed to speed up implementations while lowering project risk.

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Microsoft Dynamics 2013

Adam MacIntosh is a Senior Project Manager at WebSan Solutions Inc, a Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner offering implementation & support services for large & small firms in a variety of industries.

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Homepage Metrics

Happy Canada Day!

For those enjoying a little R&R today, imagine this was your every day!  To get achieve that, you would need to start building some automation into your business processes.  The first step you can take is by ensuring your reporting is easily & readily available.

Homepage Metrics offer out-of-the-box reporting that covers all GP modules.  There exists an extensive list of potential reports one can use.  These are automatically integrated to ones Homepage for easy & quick viewing.

Try adding some Metrics to your Homepage today by selecting the pencil icon / edit button on the Metrics heading.

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Reporting on Microsoft Dynamics GP

A lesser-known method for reporting on your Microsoft Dynamics GP data is through Solver’s BI360.  BI360 is an Excel-based business intelligence tool that offers out-of-the-box integration with Dynamics GP for reporting, budgeting, and dashboards.  It offers several key benefits to users:

  • Familiar Environment – BI360 is an Excel add-on, which means all of your reporting is designed and displayed in the same Excel environment that you are already accustomed to.
  • Simple Design – No SQL knowledge is required to design your own report or budget in BI360.  It’s a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows almost anyone in your organization to develop customized and effective reports quickly.
  • Integration – BI360 automatically integrates with your Microsoft Dynamics GP environment and pulls data from GP in real-time when generating reports, so you never have to worry about synchronization.
  • Easy Distribution – not only does BI360 give you an easy and effective medium to design and view custom reports, but also allows you to easily distribute static versions of your reports to non-BI360 users.

In a nutshell, BI360 is a simple tool that provides powerful Dynamics GP reporting in a familiar environment – what more do you need?

By: Rahim Jiwani, Application Specialist, WebSan Solutions Inc.

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Evaluation Tools

In 1983, Quaker Oats purchased Gatorade, transforming it from a multi-million dollar business into a multi-billion dollar business.  Fast forward a decade & Quaker decided that another drink manufacturer was primed for the same growth.  This time, Quaker eyed a takeover of Snapple, a popular fruit beverage.  After paying a large ransom for the Snapple business, Quaker did not see the returns it had forecast.  The Snapple brand fizzled as Quaker resources were washed down the drain.  Eventually, the Snapple brand was sold at a $1.4 billion loss to Quaker.

What went right with Gatorade that went so wrong with Snapple?

The measurement tools that Quaker used to evaluate Gatorade were both accurate & appropriate.  However, in the decade that past, these same evaluation tools were not updated.  Quaker applied the same methods & metrics to the Snapple brand that they did to the Gatorade brand.  However, in the decade that had passed, these tools were no longer the most appropriate.

Evaluation mechanisms are constantly being updated.  What works today might leave you behind tomorrow.  Quaker found this out first hand.  If companies want to continue to thrive, they must be constantly tweaking & evaluating the tools they use to evaluate their business.

Microsoft Dynamics GP leverages ever evolving Microsoft technologies in order to provide the best reporting options possible.  Users can access reports in many different formats.  Business Alerts can send automated emails to any staf member when exception criteria are met or at specific intervals.  Emails can be configured to include attachments, including lists of applicable information.  Users can have similar automated Reminders open on their screens when specified criteria have been met.  This allows for fast & automated management by exception.

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SSRS - Creating BI Reports for your Dynamics GP Data

If you're a business owner and frequent user of Dynamics GP, you might think, "I have a lot of data in my Dynamics GP system. I need to analyze my data, extract a new knowledge from it and make decisions based on this analysis. I want to see  the KPI of my business in real time mode to drive my business better. I want to have a tool which will help me see hidden trends in my business and industry...". If you already have these thoughts, there's good news - the Business Intelligence technologies (BI) will help you.

Basically, you need to have three things:

  1. The data warehouse. It is a special data base which has a star-schema data model (info cubes). Also, this database is in read-only mode for users and it is optimized for reporting and multidimensional analysis.
  2. Extraction, loading and transformation  process (ELT) which loads your data from OLTP system like Dynamics GP to your data warehouse. Generally speaking this ELT process "cleans", transforms and loads your daily operation data from Dynamics GP into your data warehouse.
  3. Tools to create analytical reports and KPIs based on data from your data warehouse.

There are alot of BI tools which can help you to create a whole process of these 1-2-3 steps. However, if you have ERP based on MS SQL Server (i.e. Dynamics GP - you have a simple way of studying the system and pretty powerful BI tool right out from the box! It is SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) which actually is the part of MS SQL Server installation.

So, let's see what SSRS can provide you:

  • Simple access to your Dynamics GP database and use it as a data warehouse, you just need to write a bunch of SQL-statements and SSRS will transform on the fly the results of these queries to BI reports
  • Loading and analyzing data from MS Analysis Services which is more powerful solution to build data warehouse from Microsoft
  • Special tool for building in drag-n-drop mode you BI reports - Report Builder 2.0 It is free and can be downloaded from Microsoft site
  • Creating beautiful graphic dash-boards with KPI's in Report Builder 2.0
  • Different filters for your BI reports
  • Access to your reports, dash-boards and KPIs via Web, you can see all your BI stuff just in your internet browser
  • Generating your BI reports in off-line mode and sending them via e-mail on a schedule. (Do you want to see some daily reports every morning in your inbox? No problem, SSRS will do it for you. Just create your reports in Report Builder, then publish and schedule them)
  • Integration with your MS Share Point portal, yes you will be able to build reports and analyze data right in your portal
  • Built in export of reports to Word, Excel, PDF and TIFF-format

MS SQL Server Reporting is very simple for installation and studying. You could get BI tool and start analyze your data in Dynamics GP in two or three days. Simple, powerful and ready for use right out from the box.

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SaaS Dynamics GP and Business Intelligence

We've recently partnered with an organization that provides nothing but business intelligence tools for Dynamics GP, NAV and AX.

The fact that we've partnered with a BI company is, in itself, not all that remarkable. The remarkable piece is that we offer it as part of our Hosted Dynamics solution! It's very reasonably priced on a per user/month fee and works exactly like the on-premise solution!

Technology for business intelligence solutions have come a long way (MS Silverlight and Excel 2010) and Hosted Dynamics GP is bringing some serious capabilities to the table for business intelligence.

Not to say that the existing reporting tools in Dynamics GP aren't great (SQL reporting services, Smartlist Builder, Report Writer, Management Reporter), but to really take your organization to the next level, you'll want to take a serious look at a Business Intelligence tool.

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