To survive in today’s competitive world, companies increasingly need detailed operational and management insight on which to base decisions. Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides CFOs with numerous out-of-the-box options for addressing these reporting needs. Companies looking for complex analytical capabilities will appreciate how delaware’s SMART BI template accelerates their journey towards a data warehouse.
As Tim Vermeersch, delaware’s solution lead for Dynamics finance, explained in his general blog post on the benefits of Dynamics 365 for CFOs, the MS Dynamics 365 stack currently includes eight primary apps. Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, the most extensive and robust one, offers multiple out-of-the-box capabilities for analytics and reporting: the analytical workspaces, a built-in analytics tool that is powered by Microsoft Power BI, and Financial Reporter, an app to design in-depth financial statements.
“The personalized workspace provides users with analytics information right on their MS Dynamics homepage,” says Tim. “These analytical workspaces are role-based. The workspace of a CFO, for example, typically contains core KPIs, charts and financial metrics that provide global visibility into the financial health of their business. The workspace of the CFO’s colleague responsible for cash collections, on the other hand, gives an overview of open invoices, periodic balances and details like promises to pay and disputed amounts.
“When users want to analyze the visuals and figures more deeply, they can drill down to the transactional data to see additional details and take action, like sending out reminders if invoices are overdue,” Tim continues. “Many of these actions are automated: the application will automatically create reminders, for example.” Tim highlights how the ‘by exception’ approach of MS Dynamics 365 saves finance teams a lot of time: “As soon as they open their workspaces, they spot all variances and the exceptions they have to follow up on.”
More than the handy workspaces, MS Dynamics 365 embeds Power BI, Microsoft’s powerful visualization tool. The suite contains a series of default Power BI reports, like customer sales per quarter, total revenue by region, and inventory turnover. But users can just as well add their own Power BI reports. “By embedding Power BI, the Dynamics suite provides access to powerful, data-driven reports, right in the Dynamics 365 interface,” Tim adds.
A feature that is really unique to MS Dynamics 365 is the embedded Financial Reporter. A financial reporting application, Financial Reporter helps finance teams to quickly create and publish high-quality financial statements, such as Profit and Loss (P&L) statements, balance sheets, and cash flow reports. “This application fills a gap in BI/analytics tools,” says Ritchie Derycker, team lead data management. “While BI tools traditionally provide clear, attractive graphs, tables, bars and dashboards, they don’t support more complex processes like P&L. Thanks to Management Reporter, finance teams can now create real-time, flexible P&L statements and balance sheets in minutes.”
When the embedded capabilities of Power BI and Management Reporting don’t provide sufficient analytics capabilities, organizations can opt to build a data warehouse on top of MS Dynamics 365. Ritchie: “Data warehouses combine transactional data with greater context, like data from CRM or HR applications, historical data, or data from third-party applications. They help build a single version of the truth.” As setting up a data warehouse is a complex process, delaware has developed an accelerator template with out-of-the-box content: SMART BI.
“SMART BI gathers data from several Dynamics 365 domains, like finance, sales, purchasing, inventory and production, and from other data sources in a predefined data warehouse. In addition, it provides predefined semantic models, including best practice domain KPIs such as days sales outstanding or financial ratios. Users can then export the data to Excel, visualize it in Power BI or use any other visualization tool,” says Pieter Hebben, solution lead analytics.
The benefits? By predefining the data models and dashboard, SMART BI ensures consistent, consolidated reporting across the organization and boosts operational efficiency, as it provides rapid time to insights. “CFOs and their teams get more detailed insights faster, which, helps reduce costs, improve profits, enhance decision-making across the organization and, ultimately keep ahead of their competitors,” Pieter concludes.
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