This is the fourth post in our five-part series, Five Ways to Turn Business Data into Business Insight. We’ve previously lo looked at how dashboards (Get Better, Not Bigger Dashboards) can provide easy information access to your team members based on their specific roles, how self-service business intelligence (BI) and reporting (Take the Burden out of Business Intelligence) can lighten the load on IT resources, and how mobile BI (Get BI on the Fly) impacts users and IT. Today, we’ll discuss Big Data and its big implications on small and mid-sized business.
Transform Big Data into Your Next Big Idea
Is there a hotter topic or bigger buzzword than Big Data? The amount of data and the mind-blowing pace at which it’s being created is unprecedented, but without the tools that can make sense of it all, Big Data is just a lot of ones and zeroes. So how do you enrich your data with advanced analytics to create real insight and ideas?
With a business intelligence platform based entirely on the Microsoft stack including SQL Server, Office and SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics NAV gives every user the ability to analyse and manage a massive amount of data. This lets your team do real analysis on years of financial history, sales figures, cost structures, customer information, inventory levels and other business data and make sound projections about what you can expect in the weeks, months and years to come.
Taking analysis a step further, you can match your historical data with Bing’s maps and social search information, so you can take inventory price levels, for example, and match them against competitive prices, allowing you to analyse and plan more effectively. And with predictive analysis tools, you can identify your most profitable customers and products, allowing you to make valuable cross-sell and up-sell recommendations that improve both sales and customer satisfaction.
Your data is no good if it’s lying dormant on a server somewhere. Microsoft Dynamics lets you get at it and get into it, so you can create the big ideas that make Big Data such a big deal.
There are 5 main report tools available in Microsoft Dynamics NAV:
- Out of the box reports
- Dashboard KPIs
- Account Schedules
- Technical Report Write (SQL Visual Studio based reports)
- Jet Reports (Excel based report writer)
Out of the box reports
There are over 300 standard reports in NAV. Within finance, all the key reports are available in the standard NAV format, these formats can be changed if required. Example reports would be:
- Detail Trial Balance
- Trial Balance
- Trial Balance/Previous Year
- Trial Balance/Budget
- Closing Trial Balance
- VAT Statement
- Fiscal Year Balance
- Trial Balance by Period
Standard Aged Accounts Receivables
Standard Trial Balance
Trial Balance vs Previous Year
On a user’s personalised role centre (the user’s home screen specifically designed to give that user access to the data they need to do their jobs quickly), users can add KPI charts (e.g. Trailing Sales Order in the Sales Order Processor role centre below) that track important Key Performance Indicators that show real time information that can be dynamically filtered by dates or other variables and are interactive allowing the user to drill into the data behind the KPI chart. NAV comes with over 100 KPI charts to choose from but these can also be easily created and modified using Visual Studio. They are a great visualisation tool to monitor and manage performance that are available beyond the Dashboard on transaction and customer account information pages also. Charting and visualisation is a key tool in NAV that give actionable insight for quick business decisions.
Account schedules are used to arrange General Ledger Accounts listed in the chart of accounts in ways that will provide information about those accounts. You can set up various layouts to define the information that you want to extract from the chart of accounts. One of the main functions of account schedules is to provide a place for calculations that cannot be made directly in the chart of accounts, such as creating subtotals for groups of accounts, which can be included in new totals and can then be used in other totals. For example, users can create account schedules to calculate profit margins on such dimensions as departments or customer groups. In addition, general ledger entries and general ledger budget entries can be filtered, for example, by net change or debit amount. “Account Schedules” is a non-technical reporting tool within the Dynamics NAV product.
Technical Report Writer
The technical report writer has been used to write over 300 standard report and document layouts. Firstly you design the dataset for reports in Microsoft Dynamics NAV Report Dataset Designer. You design the layout for reports in Visual Studio Report Designer. After you design reports, you can make then available in client applications. For example, you can add a report to the Report tab of a page. When you preview a report from a client computer, the report is displayed using Report Viewer.
Jet Reports is a Microsoft Excel based self-service reporting solution that allows business users to create high impact reports in minutes, inside an application you already know – Excel. With no advanced programming skills you can pull data directly into Excel from Microsoft Dynamics NAV. There are three levels of Jet report Jet Express, Jet Essentials and Jet Enterprise. Jet Enterprise is a complete Business Intelligence and Reporting solution designer around Microsoft SQL server and Excel.