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
Free HR Module within Dynamics GP – Wow!. For those who haven’t already implemented HR within Dynamics GP, a quick and simple implementation of the Human Resources module can help save time/cost for your HR team. Based on a simple 3-day install/setup & training, the following are the top reasons why you should consider using the HR module.
1) The HR Module is Free – You already own it as part of your current Dynamics GP licensing. Endeavour can help you to grant access and security rights to your HR staff to maintain a centralized record of employee data such as job roles, promotions, anniversary dates, grievances, job performance, certifications and leave tracking for sick-days, vacation days and short-term disability leaves.
2) Comply with ISO, industry and privacy standards – The HR Module can be used to provide safe, documented and predictable processes for centralized record keeping of Employee data. Furthermore, with scanning and GP document attach, unsecured file-cabinets can be replaced with a secure online repository within Dynamics GP.
3) Employee certification tracking can be automated – By tracking employee certifications for safety, skills, industry associations, Unions and other regulatory bodies, SmartLists and reminders can be used to track expiry dates and proactively ensure that certifications are kept up to date.
HR Module within Dynamics GP
4) Reduce risks and chaos – One of HR’s job is to take precautions to protect the organization. Keeping easy to find, detailed records will reduce the administrative burden of having to locate, build or gather documentation relating to any potential lawsuits relating to employee performance, safety or termination.
With the power of the Cloud, remote desktop access, and increasingly refined processes we’ve found that more and more of our client work for Microsoft Dynamics GP (ERP) and Microsoft Dynamics 356 (CRM online) implementations, upgrades and integrating 3rd party products, has been completed remotely via secure connections from our offices rather than traveling onsite to our client’s location (in Atlantic Canada, Central Canada or USA).
So what’s changed? We did a quick poll among our Endeavour Solutions’ Canadian consultants in Toronto, Halifax, London and Montreal, the results were much along the lines of what you might expect, but do indicate a clear trend none the less.
1) Change in customer mindset
2) Improvement in technology and remote connections
3) A refinement of processes and the more predicable nature of consulting engagements
Now, most of the consultants interviewed, still stressed the need to meet with clients as part of their relationship building process, but some did concede that they’ve been able to build and maintain a number of strong long-term relationships via phone, email and webcam.
Change in customer mindset. The general consensus was that more and more clients, new and existing, were willing to have their Endeavour consultants work remotely. This was both due to their comfort and trust in working with Endeavour Solutions, as well as a general shift from what used to be a lot of collaboration and joint discovery of the issues and potential solutions, to more of a reliance on Endeavour as a trusted adviser and a more simplistic, get-it-done attitude. To sum it up, more and more clients are buying ‘results’ and are less concerned with paying for ‘bums in seats’. For example, on an eight-week project, one of our consultants traveled to the client’s office (Dynamics GP Michigan client) only once for an initial kick-off, and the rest of their Dynamics GP upgrade was performed remotely, including the implementation of a new manufacturing module along with the associated testing and training.
Technology Improvements. This is thanks to both better network stability and bandwidth that is seen across Canada and the majority of the United States. It’s also because of the greater prevalence and use of proven network security, firewalls and systems being extended to external stakeholders. Our technical consultants also stressed that the newer versions of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM were designed for browser use (web client) incorporating a modern Service Based Architecture which provides a streamlined means of supporting mobile, cloud and secure remote connectivity. This is further echoed in Microsoft’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” mantra in support of its efforts to help Dynamics Users “Re-invent [their] productivity and business processes” with mobile, cloud and applications such as Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016.
Refined Processes: Endeavour is now in its 27th year in business as a Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP (Great Plains), Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM and Microsoft Office 365, Azure & cloud consulting firm. With over 400 active clients coast to coast in Canada and internationally including the United States and South America, we have refined, updated and optimized a number of internal processes to help improve efficiency and predictability of customer engagements. These methodologies, used by our consultants in Toronto, Halifax, London and Montreal, with additional remote support for Edmonton Alberta and Ottawa Ontario, have also created an increased level of predictability and confidence in delivering projects on-time, on-budget and now remotely.
To learn more, contact Steve Ewing, Director Business Development @ Endeavour Solutions Inc.
Dynamics GP 2016 R2, unofficially announced this summer and further validated at the Microsoft Dynamics GP “ReIMAGINE” conference earlier this week (September 19 2016).
Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 R2 will be released later this year.
The official date has not been set, but is slated for Q4 CY 2016 – End of calendar year 2016 in Canada and USA. Given the announcement of the launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Financials and Dynamics NAV 2017 in Canada for early November 2016, it is presumed that Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 R2 will most likely be late November or early December 2016.
This release will align well for clients considering Dynamics GP 2016 R2 upgrades in early 2017 after they’ve closed their period-end books (Year-end for some, Quarter-end for others). Below is an unofficial photo of the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016 / 2017 Roadmap along with other products within the Microsoft Dynamics Suite including Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-line. We’re also told that Microsoft Dynamics GP 2017 should be expected late next year, our best guess would be Fall 2017.
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