KPI’s, Business Intelligence, Custom Reports and Datamarts are nothing new to Microsoft Dynamics GP, but the potential for user adoption and ease of access has improved significantly with the release and recent updates to Microsoft Power BI – Microsoft’s new cloud based dashboard and reporting tool. As a testament to Microsoft’s backing of this great tool, we’ve been told that Power BI will be embedded across the entire 2018 Microsoft Dynamics portfolio including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help corporate executives, business managers and other end users make more informed business decisions.
Embedding Power BI Dashboards and KPIs in your organization
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be used as a defined measure to gauge the performance of how your business operations and strategies are being implemented and executed. Microsoft Dynamics GP can obviously give you the answers, but typically only if you are looking for them, and periodically additional outside information is needed to form a more complete story. Additionally, there are users that may be outside of your core GP team, who would love to gain access to AR, Sales and other KPI. PowerBI can be a good means to help expose such valuable insights. For example, Endeavour’s GP Bistro product connects GP with Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM) and used Power BI within CRM to provide dashboards for sales by custom, AR aging by customer, and popular products sold. www.endeavour365.ca/gpbistro
Telling a story with KPIs and dashboards via Microsoft Power BI can serve to “keep a pulse” on such metrics, supporting an aggregation of information and a more frequent review of metrics by business users. This higher frequency (weekly, daily, even multiple times a day) of reviewing and taking action based on specific metrics relevant to each department is what is referred to as “embedding KPIs” within your organization. Before we look at user adoption in relation to your efforts to embed dashboards and KPIs, let’s take a quick look into what makes a great dashboard and set of KPIs in the first place.
What makes a great Power BI dashboard and set of KPIs?
Most KPI’s and related visualizations seen on a dashboard (graphics, numbers, pie charts, maps, bar graphs) represent specific metrics. Each metric can tell its own story and together with other related metrics on the same dashboard, can tell a broader and more complete story, including storytelling elements such as a timelines, cause and effect relationships, and a shared context.
Each KPI on your dashboard should follow the M-C-A method for KPIs; an acronym representing: Measurable, Common understanding and Actionable.
Great KPIs require all three (M-C-A) and typically start with a Measure represented by a $, # or %. The measures should be supported by a Common understanding around the source of the data, the timeline represented, the method of calculation, and the desired targets. Periodically our consultants will host a cross-functional team meeting to assist clients in reaching an internal agreement on specific measures such as % Available Inventory. Finally, great KPIs should be Actionable. Actionable refers to the underlying business commitment to keep a pulse on business performance and to hold specific people accountable for the results. Actionable also refers to the documented set of future actions that will be used to adjust the ‘people, processes or technology’ if the KPI targets are missed.
Supporting User Adoption of Embedded KPIs
Once the dashboards and KPIs are designed and published using Microsoft Power BI, there is a need to ensure that the business users are able to embrace and accept these dashboards within their daily practices. Without adoption, your team will be hard pressed to achieve any positive action and performance improvements if the dashboards are not used.
Borrowing from our Project Managers at Endeavour Solutions, user adoption is best supported by facilitating three key inputs: Knowledge, Attitude and Practice, or what has also been referred to as reaching the user’s head, heart and hands. Our lead Consultants and Project Managers often include a change management plan (communications and training) that strives to anticipate and address potential user gaps such as the following:
• Knowledge of what the change is, including the difference between the old and the new.
• Attitude towards the change, sometimes boiling down to either: WIIFM – “what’s in it for me”, or addressing any issues of ‘trust’ related to the questionable success of past changes.
• Ability to Practice, test, trial, and live through the change. From a Dashboard and Power BI perspective, this would involve a short training session and clear set of communications on what the KPI’s mean, how they are calculated, desired thresholds, future targets and the actions that can be taken to improve results.
Dashboards and KPIs serve to keep a view of specific tactics, keeping a scorecard on the actions and programs that are implemented to support your organization’s efforts and strategic goals. We’ve found that the ease of deployment, when using Microsoft Power BI, has been greatly increased, and thus reducing the cost of deploying Dashboards and KPIs within your organization.
As a next step, we recommend watching our Power BI Demo video (39min) accessed on-demand via our website at www.endeavoursolutions.ca/businessintelligence , then talking with your peers and broader business community around the types of KPIs (that are M-C-A) and dashboards that can help to improve your organization’s performance. In the video, we outline a project methodology as well as additional recommendations and next steps for you and your team.
Our consultants at Endeavour Solutions have a number of pre-defined KPIs, sample dashboards and a defined project methodology, that can help to accelerate the adoption and embedding of dashboards and KPIs as part of your next Microsoft Dynamics GP Business Intelligence project. www.endeavoursolutions.ca/about-us
We’re all excited for the Microsoft Business Applications release of Dynamics GP 2018 R2 in Canada. Originally the release was set for later in the year (December), but has been pulled forward to align with the new October 1 2018 release of Dynamics 365 Business Central (Formerly Dynamics NAV 2018).
Some of the new features that GP 2018 R2 include is mention of the new “Inteligent Edge” by Microsoft as a means to syncronize key information from Dynamics GP into the Microsoft Cloud for gaining access to Power BI reports and other Microsoft Power Apps. Microsoft will be using its new Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP, as the front end for these new PowerBI reports as we expect as part of the security of the SQL Server repository of information that is synced.
Some of the new User Requested feature and fixes announced by Microsoft (Thanks Terry Heley)
Exclude items in HITB with zero quantities
Transaction level post to GL
Payroll Pay code start and end dates
Payroll shared maximums for deductions and benefits (federal requirement for 401K)
Monthly and Bimonthly recurring batches
Don’t display inactive checkbooks in Look ups
Payroll check register FICA totals
Don’t allow duplicate check numbers for Bank trx entry, Misc checks and payroll manual checks
-Purchasing Usability Mass update inactive from Navigation List – Inactivate Reactivate Temporary
Add Vendor doc number to Purchase all in one
Checkbook ID defaults on computer check batch
Allow partial purchase on a purchase requisition from a PO
Email PO other template from PO Entry
Display Vendor Hold Status
Print Invoice in Functional from SOP Navigation List
Sales Transaction Workflow
New SmartList for Deposits on Unposted Sales Transactions
Print and email SOP document at the same time
Customer /Combiner retain ship to address
Additional sort options on SOP Item Inquiry
Email customer statements
-Top Feature Requests
Hide Business Analyzer for all users
Increase Dynamics GP password maximum length to 21 characters
Password expiration notification
SmartList Designer Favorites display in Nav List
Web Client with workflow Org Accounts (Mid Year)
Regional Date format in web client (Mid Year)
TWAIN for scanning, doc attach (Mid Year)
Endeavour Solutions: Choice in Microsoft On-Premise or Cloud Applications
Today, companies are relentlessly taking up cloud subscriptions for managing their ERP or CRM systems, thanks to the ease of deployment, maintenance, and cost efficiency that the cloud offers. However, in this flurry to acquire cloud models, companies often lose the sense of urgency to align their business processes with these new systems, resulting in undesired outcomes. “Adding to client frustrations is the fact that licensing of Microsoft’s products has historically been complex and confusing,” mentions Steve Ewing, Director, Endeavour Solutions. “This is where we prove to be effective.” As a top Microsoft Dynamics partner, Endeavour helps organizations across the USA and Canada take a pragmatic approach to driving business success through the use of Microsoft products.
Endeavour has exceptional advisory, project management, configuration and technical integration services and delivers trusted product and service offerings that include Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP, Dynamics 365 CRM, Office 365, Azure, and the new Dynamics 365 Business Central (Cloud-ERP).
“There are organizations that are still not ready to move their core business applications like financial systems to the cloud and are more inclined to cloud-enable only a portion of their systems,” says Terry Sunderland, President and CEO, Endeavour Solutions. Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) is a strong fit for such hybrid environments, and leveraging it, Endeavour aims to incrementally support each of their client’s progression to the cloud. “As Microsoft adopts a more clear vision for its mid-market business applications, Endeavour is ready and capable to support our clients with their transition to the cloud, when and if they are ready.”
With a passionate team that strives for client satisfaction, and a philosophy that revolves around integrity, trust, and accountability, Endeavour has scripted many success stories. For instance, a manufacturing company, after failed attempts to implement an integrated ERP with another partner, was forced to adopt manual processes and Excel sheets. With inaccurate tracking and reporting on inventory and manufacturing data, their direct unit costs were invisible.
Endeavour, as their new partner, not only expanded upon the client’s investment in Microsoft Dynamics ERP but also provided advisory services and training to help them streamline and implement an end-to-end, fully integrated ERP system. As a result, the client gained access to accurate and real-time reporting on their manufacturing operations and unit costs, all without breaking their bank.
As a true partner of its clients, Endeavour works hand in hand with project sponsors to uncover core value drivers looking for areas of optimization and/or automation. The company diligently plugs process, knowledge and capability gaps before deploying its solutions. This approach allows them to accelerate implementations while keeping a focus on user adoption.
As Microsoft adopts a more clear vision for its mid-market business applications, Endeavour is ready and capable to support our clients with their transition to the cloud, when and if they are ready
With thousands of options available via Microsoft and its ecosystem of ISV add-on products, it takes a top partner such as Endeavour to help clients find their ‘best-fit solution’ while avoiding the potentially costly pitfalls associated with choosing the wrong apps or wrong approach.
“We are excited about the commercialization of Microsoft’s new cloud-based D365 Business Central ERP which offers an out of the box integration between ERP, CRM, and Office 365,” says Ewing. Endeavour foresees a strong roadmap for Dynamics GP though sees the new Dynamics 365 Business Central as an increasingly attractive solution for many.
Endeavour’s current efforts are about making it absolutely simple for clients to select, implement, integrate, upgrade and support their Microsoft ERP, CRM or Cloud business systems based on their evolving needs, whether such systems be on-premise, hybrid or in the cloud.
First of all, yes you can have your on-premise server-based software hosted in a Dynamics GP Cloud.
There are a variety of flavours of “Cloud”. The two main ones that we recommend are Public Cloud (Microsoft Azure) or Private Cloud (Endeavour’s Cloud hosting partner).
For today’s insight, lets focus on the Private Cloud, as the Azure public cloud is currently geared more towards technical IT needs.
So, what is the difference between a private cloud and what you may have now?
It depends on what you have now. If your current Microsoft Dynamics GP or Dynamics CRM server-based software is already hosted off-site at a 3rd party data centre, the two may be roughly the same, just a different billing model (per user fee vs a list of monthly service fees) and potentially a different set of support services.
If your current Microsoft Dynamics GP or Dynamics CRM server-based software is hosted in an “IT closet” at your office, there is a good chance that moving to a Private Cloud may be quite a bit different – and well worth considering.
Some of the high level differences between cloud and internal hosting include:
For CRM web clients, the user experience would be roughly the same, though mobile access may be easier to setup via a private cloud.
If you are using the Dynamics GP desktop clients, you will need to RDP (remote desktop) into the server for the private cloud, many clients are already doing this rather than a full direct-connect.
For GP web client and remote access from a home office, this will be easier via a private cloud.
The firewall, anti-virus and other security measures are almost always better in a private cloud.
In terms of Risk, typically the private cloud is a safer bet.
Better disaster recovery, better back-up and better restore times.
Better physical security, better cyber-security and better fire protection.
Often a greater level of IT monitoring and loading of periodic windows and security patches.
Performance may also be better with cloud depending on the specifications and age of your current infrastructure
Does Private Cloud hosting cost more?
The short answer is “Maybe”, (see Endeavour Canadain GP Private Cloud Price)
The long answer is often a resounding “No”, once other costs/risks are considered. The top costs to consider are:
The IT support services that you use to monitor and maintain your IT infrastructure.
The back-up and off-site storage protocols that you have in place.
The ongoing physical security, cyber-security and protection efforts employed.
The level of Risk you are prepared to assume, the consequences and cost of a potential breach (ie Ransomware or theft of customer data)
If your IT team is highly skilled and are backed by a healthy budget, then a private cloud will often cost less, however if your IT team is running on a shoestring budget, or are seen as a sunk cost, then, yes a Private Cloud will be seen as costing more – but may be worth it in terms of reduced risk.
Beware of deals (e-mail SPAM) that are Too Good – To Be True (TG-TBT), as they probably are!
To Good to be True # 1 – Free migration, GP migration with no ISV’s, with free online training.
Migration excluding ISV’s (3rd party products) is of little use as most rely on ISV products.
Free online training is on CustomerSource. Endeavour has many free recorded webinars.
Training and support for your business processes and specific configuration is better via Endeavour Support.
To Good to be True # 2 – Low cost introductory Azure hosting. Our technical team has looked extensively at this.
When 24×7 performance and various consumption fee’s add up, costs are double the introductory fees.
Dynamics GP needs additional server(s) power and memory for remote desktop, for MR and for some of the more complex modules and ISV’s.
To Good to be True # 3 – Dynamics GP in the Cloud as an all-in subscription with no software maintenance.
This is smoke and mirrors unless you are 100% vanilla GP with no ISV and no significant configurations.
This scenario is essentially a net new implementation with high costs to configure to your needs, which I assume are already being met. (if you need help contact support)
With current Microsoft prices, moving from a perpetual concurrent user license to a per-named-user subscription license will cost more in the long run.
The Answer is: Embrace the Endeavour Private Cloud, for those clients where Cloud is a good fit.
Office 365 Enterprise is more than just the latest in Microsoft Office 2016. It also includes:
= Advanced security, profiles, and cloud management
= Microsoft Exchange Online for e-mails
= Microsoft Azure Active Directory
= OneDrive for Business and SharePoint online
= Skype for Business for internal chat and video
= And yes Office 2016 for tablet, phone, PC and Mac (both local off-line full-install and online in the cloud)