Friday, December 7, 2012

BI Snowflakes & Stars - All Are Unique

I couldn't resist another winter themed post on Business Intelligence. 

While those of us who are less technically inclined may enjoy the picture below, those who design and develop data marts and data warehouses are very familiar with both the snowflake and star schema.

One popular truth regarding snowflakes is that no two snowflakes are identical.  When it comes to Business Intelligence, no two organization's needs are identical either. 

Enjoy the winter beauty of stars and snowflakes this season - and let us take care of data structure underpinning your Business Intelligence solution.  You'll be happy you did!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What are you getting for Christmas?

If you have kids, you'll agree that one of the top things on their minds this season is what they want for Christmas.

But what about the retailers and organizations who are hoping to make the best of this Christmas season?  How can they best predict what products to stock up on? 

I know from first-hand experience, that my favourite winter tire brand seems to always be 'sold-out' by mid-December - what if they could better predict demand and optimize their production and supply chain to fulfill more requests?

From a BI perspective, the answer lies in the predictive power of data mining.  One real world predictive analytics and data mining solution called Sentinel Mining is based on the Ph. D. thesis by TARGIT CTO Dr. Morten Middelfart. Check it out!

When will Management Reporter do budgeting and forecasting?

This post is nothing but my own thoughts, as Microsoft unfortunately does not have an update on when Management Reporter will incorporate budgeting and forecasting functionality.

That being said, I wonder if the following two recent developments in MR 2012 RU3 might hint that budgeting is just around the corner:
  • Extension of the data mart for Dynamics GP
  • MR Web Report Viewer
What could these developments hint at you ask? 

Well, the data mart would be a good backbone for housing the budget and forecast version data in a uniform way across all Dynamics ERPs.  Since MR will eventually be the full Dynamcis ERP CPM solution, the budgets will not necessarily need to be brought back into the respective Dynamics ERP, unless other aspects of the ERP require it (i.e. encumbrance management).

To a lesser degree, a web-based interface simplifies access to Management Reporter and could be leveraged for future remote budget entry similar, but much better than, Forecaster's webclient.

Click here for more or my ramblings about budgeting in Management Reporter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Budgeting in Management Reporter

It has been over two years now since Management Reporter 2 was released and available for Microsoft Dynamics GP - its hard to believe!  Click here to see my first blog post on the subject.

Microsoft's original road map showed budgeting and forecasting built into Management Reporter in two stages:
  • Simple budgeting in 2012
  • Complex budgeting in 2014
Obviously a roadmap is highly subject to change and at this point in the game, Microsoft is still in the planning stages.  While this may cause uncertainty for users who are holding out for this functionality to be added to MR, lets hope that our wait is worth it in as far as the future functionality delivered in MR.

According to my Linked In poll here, the majority of MR users want to see budgeting as the next feature, followed up by integration with sub-ledgers rather than just the GL.

Since all the Dynamics ERP solutions have basic budgeting features, perhaps Microsoft's strategy has changed to hold-off and just deliver features that surpass Microsoft Forecaster rather than introduce basic budgeting and forecasting.

Either way, if you or your organization is looking for a unified CPM solution that handles all budgeting, forecasting, reporting and analysis in one place today, look no further than Prophix CPM.  Click here for more information on its advanced capabilities.  Your budget contributors, financial analysts and their spouses or significant others will thank you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Management Reporter 2012 has been released!

Management Reporter 2012 has been released!  This release includes more than 30 new features, including all promised features!  You can find videos of these features at the Microsoft CPM blog here.

Some of the new features include:
  • Integration with Microsoft Dynamics NAV
  • Schedule reports to generate on a periodic basis
  • Publish reports to multiple Microsoft SharePoint or network locations
  • E-mail a link to the report from the Report Viewer
  • Quickly create a chart based upon selected report rows and columns
  • Drill from account and budget balances on a report to related information in your Microsoft Dynamics ERP
  • Toggle the accounts display to optionally include/not include the dimension descriptions by user
One important thing to mention is that the FRx migration tool currently does not work with MR 2012.  We expect this will be addressed shortly, but in the meantime, you will need to migrate on the previous version of MR.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Keeping your Planning Focus

Do you or your organization suffer from a lack of focus during your planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting exercises?

The other day, while I was watching my five year old son's indoor soccer game I noticed that I was following the action in the wrong game?  Why?  The reason is simple enough, my son was playing a field over and the spectator stands are only available on one side of the field, which meant that I had to keep my focus on the second field instead of the game being played right in front of me!

I believe that our planning and reporting can suffer the same 'lack of focus'.  It can occur for a few reasons, including:
  • Spending more time collecting and organizing data than analysing the data
  • Budgeting/forecasting at an inappropriate level of detail, effectively drawing our focus from key business drivers that should receive more relative focus and giving equal weight to administrative expenses
  • Routinely generating, reviewing and analyzing a standard set of reports, as opposed to interacting with the data and performing 'ad-hoc analysis' on key areas and variances

Looking for a Microsoft Enterprise Reporting Replacement?

If your organization is affected by the discontinuation of Microsoft Dynamics GP Enterprise Reporting, you should review and consider the following replacement solutions:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dilbert on Performance Goals and KPIs

A lot of fun is poked at 'bad' customer service and we all know how important it is to have trained, fully engaged client facing human resources in our organizations. 

When it comes to tech support, I think we've all experienced something close to what Dilbert does below.

What I like most about this Dilbert strip is that it highlights the need to have well-designed performance goals and KPIs.  While resolving technical support cases is certainly an important goal for any technical support representative, a performance goal like this in isolation is at risk of being 'gamed' with the resultant negative overall impact on the organization.  It would be better to link this goal to customer satisfaction and rephrase the goal as cases closed with an average or above average client satisfaction rating or perhaps introduce a separate customer service rating KPI.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Features in MR 2012!

Management Reporter (MR) 2012 is chaulk full of new features, many of which in line with the 'distribution theme' of this release.

Here is a partial listing:
  • MR 2012 now integrates with all Dynamics ERPs (i.e. NAV has been added)
  • Drill-back to Dynamics ERP
  • Comments
  • Multiple-destination distribution flexibility
  • SharePoint integration
  • Scheduling
  • Missing Account Analysis
What I find spectacular is that Microsoft has delivered on all the enhancements it promised last year that I blogged about here.

For more information, please visit the official Microsoft Dynamics CPM blog where they are show casing new features each week.  In many cases, MS has included a link to a YouTube MR 2012 demo! 

On Demand TARGIT BI Demo

Kyle McNerney of TARGIT has kindly put together a 20 minute overview of TARGIT BI, the leading BI/analytics solution for Dynamics ERP.

Click here to register and view.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Top 7 Benefits of Acheiving Self-Service BI

Self-service BI is not just a buzz-word.  It is an approach to analytics that enables business users to analyze organizational information (i.e. create reports, make dash boards, perform ad-hoc analysis, configure alerts).  IT resources are not required on a continual basis to support end users, but rather only to set up the back-end (i.e. the data warehouse/data marts and related cubes underpinning the business intelligence system).  Further, if an existing back-end solution is available, IT may not be required at all!

Top 7 Benefits of Achieving Self-Service BI:
  • Enable business users to create personalized reports and conduct analysis without IT involvement
  • Free IT resources to focus on other tasks
  • Improve organizational decision making
  • Increase responce time to changes in the business environment
  • Improve allocation of resources
  • Reduce organizational risk
  • Improve organizational results

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Results of Combining Operational Models with Financial Budgets

This is the final blog entry in a 3 part series on combining financial & operational models to link key business drivers to budgets & forecasts. Click here to review part 2 or part 1 respectively.

Combining operational models that link key business drivers with your financial budgets provide the following results:
  • Significantly shorter budget/forecast cycles
  • Facilitates market environment vs. calendar driven re-forecasting to react to quickly to changes
  • Re-aligns financial planning focus
  • Facilitates insight between operational tactics and the financial forecast
  • Facilitates variance analysis at the operational and key driver level
  • Shifts professional resource time from collecting data and maintaining spreadsheets to analysis and decision making
Please browse this autodemo for an overview of Prophix CPM, a solution that can facilitate sophisticated operational modelling.