Five Ways to Improve Dynamics 365 Business Intelligence
1. Dynamics AX/D365 isn’t your only data source
In today’s environment, it’s virtually impossible to find an organization that has 100% of their data residing in their Microsoft Dynamics AX or Microsoft Dynamics 365 system. There are always other systems that have valuable data and need to combine with your ERP data for better, more accurate decision-making, such as, CRM, WMS, Payroll, Social Media, and more.
If your company hasn’t moved to a Modern BI platform, your IT team, analysts, or business power users are more than likely pulling together manual reports via excel from various data sources.
There are a couple of issues with this approach that can be costly and misguiding.
- Time – The time-consuming process of manually pulling reporting and analytics from disparate systems usually falls on the shoulders of only a few individuals within your company, which takes them away from their other responsibilities.
- Misguiding information – If you are manually processing data, by the time reporting and analytics gets to the decision makers, the data is a day or more old. Meaning the time for action has passed and it is not proactive, which is the goal of BI.
2. Dirty data ‘in’ is Dirty data ‘out’
Over the past several years, we’ve worked with organizations in every industry that believe sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a ‘Modern BI’ software platform will fix their data quality issues…well unfortunately, it won’t! As the saying goes “garbage in, garbage out.”
If the data your ERP users are inputting isn’t of the utmost quality, whether because fields aren’t being filled in or filled in incorrectly, the BI & Analytics software is virtually worthless, except for mirroring the ‘dirty’ data.
Before you implement a BI platform, you need to follow implementation best practices to ensure data quality is a top priority before rolling out the platform and losing any chance of high user adoption AND ROI of your BI & Analytics purchase.
3. You are tracking KRIs, but not KPIs
A common misconception is that Key Results Indicators (KRIs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the same thing.
Let’s start with defining each. Key Results Indicators, or KRIs, are measuring what already happened in your firm and while great for benchmarking and showing progress, are not meant to provide direction. Think of KRIs as reactive. On the other hand, Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, tell you what could or should occur based on based on current events within your operations. Think of KPIs as proactive.
KPIs are what an organization should be making decisions on where and how to compete in their industry. They are ‘forward-looking’ in nature and meant to assist Executives and Management with managing the direction of their company.
4. Performance: “It takes 30 minutes to pull a report, so I grab lunch or coffee while it’s running…”
We can’t count how many times we have heard BI users say they query a report or analyses with large transactional data sets and ‘go grab a cup of coffee while it’s running’.
Traditionally, AX users built a multi-dimensional data warehouse with cubes utilizing the SQL platform, to organize their data for users to pull reports, dashboards, and analyses. While this was a great approach for organizing data, it was a bear for performance. While there were means to drill-down to transactional-level details, it’s best for analyzing aggregate data sets, as performance starts to lag as the data grows.
The latest approach is an InMemory model, that allows users to grab data directly from a data source and build an ‘enterprise data model’ on top. Microsoft calls this the Tabular model, which can be deployed to Azure Analysis Services or an instance of SQL Server Analysis Services and can be managed in SQL Server Management Studio.
Giving your business users a BI platform that takes forever to run a report, dashboard, or analyses is a sure-fire way to kill end-user adoption.
The way in which you model your data on the back-end, keeping performance and scalability in mind, is the foundation for the presentation layer for whatever front-end visualization (or BI) tool you use (i.e., Power BI, Tableau, TARGIT, Excel, etc.).
5. BI & Analytics is only in the hands of a few, not the many
Many companies struggle with getting the power of BI in the hands of everyone in the organization that could benefit. One of the most common reasons, is that many users don’t understand the context of the data and therefore take inappropriate actions. Another reason being that companies don’t want the data to get into the wrong hands. Lastly, the BI tools in place don’t align with the varying skill sets and needs of the people at your organization.
A modern BI platform will put the right BI tools in front of the right users, all while maintaining security and control around the data. You want to have your Enterprise BI & Analytics environment for the masses and a self-service platform for those Advanced users that are prepared to push the envelope and combine data from multiple sources.
Read the full version by downloading the white paper, featuring questions to ask yourself to determine if you are suffering from any of the 5 signs we mentioned.
Additionally, if you know your organization is struggling with BI, let’s have a conversation. enVista’s business intelligence and analytics team combined with industry experts in supply chain and transportation can help ensure your data strategy and BI and analytics platform are aligned with your business goals and objectives.