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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.