With almost 50,000 customers around the world, Dynamics GP is a reliable accounting solution to manage your business. However, like most ERP solutions, its’ out-of-the-box reporting capabilities aren’t as usable or flexible as today’s modern businesses require. Without a readily available IT team or the skills in-house, many companies decide to implement a third-party business intelligence (BI) solution.
Microsoft has assembled some powerful analytics tools which make a perfect platform for ISV partners to fill the gaps in functionality, user experience, and self-sufficiency, which is why there are a number of third-party BI products for Dynamics GP available in the channel today. If you have already started your research, you’ll have noticed that each of these products offer a different mix of analytics functionality. BI software is not a “one size fits all,” and you need to identify what features will help you fix your current reporting challenges and reach your business goals.
As leaders in business intelligence and reporting software, we’ve been through the software evaluation process with hundreds of Dynamics GP customers. To identify your top picks of BI solutions, you need to establish a baseline of what you want your system to look like and only evaluate the solutions that meet those requirements. Our team has put together a framework of topics to familiarize yourself with, and questions to ask the solution provider, to help you get started.
Here are seven questions to ask that align with the basic BI “must-haves” for every Dynamics GP user.
- Does the BI tool require special skills around SQL and Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Design Studio (BIDS)?
One of the main reasons behind adopting a third-party BI solution is to make the technology more easily accessible to your non-technical users. Look for technology that can simplify data structuring and doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
- Do I need developer skills to add tables and make customizations to the data warehouse or cubes?
Customization capabilities are equally as important as ease of use. The ability to make changes to a data warehouse or cubes without having to use programming language will reduce implementation and customization times by orders of magnitude.
- Can the BI solution include more than one data source?
Consolidating multiple data sources is important in a BI solution, but there are vast differences in the methods used to accomplish this. Remember that it can be a complicated task and the solution you choose should make it as simple as possible.
- Can the BI solution handle historical data needs, like slow-changing dimensions?
When implementing a BI solution, both your current and historical data will be affected by organizational change. You should know how the solution handles historical data so no serious damage to data integrity can ensue.
- How do updates get refreshed from your ERP system to your BI solution?
The flexibility to update your BI environment with new or updated records (incremental loading, loading of specific data areas) is critical for large databases and for any BI environment that needs real-time data.
- What is the process for documenting the data structure?
Documenting the data structure can be a time consuming and expensive process, but it is critical to the success of a BI project because it will be used as the new “system of record.” You need to understand where the data in the data warehouse and cubes come from and how it is combined.
- What methodology will be used for implementing the BI solution?
How quickly the solution can be installed, customized to a specific environment, and rolled out to end users is an underrated but highly important point of consideration when comparing solutions. Time to value and overall solution adoption hinge on a solution that is usable from day one.
This is only a summary of what you need to know about evaluating BI solutions and how you can optimize your reporting and analytics practices in Dynamics GP. Download our latest whitepaper for the full evaluation framework for software selection and use it to choose a BI solution that best fits your business and user needs.