Establish a Rapid, Real-Time Reporting Rhythm to Steer Your Business Through Unprecedented Change (Video)
Finance teams are under tremendous additional pressure to adapt to a quickly shifting economic environment. Organizations need access to the latest data to answer critical questions about their financial performance and overall business health.
Watch this recorded webinar with insightsoftware as we discuss how frequent, dynamic reporting with Jet Reports can help you navigate these uncharted waters.
The topics covered include:
- How to get a handle on costs and other financial risks with live data from your NAV, GP, and Business Central systems
- What reports you need to be building and tracking
- How to manage increased reporting frequency
- How to handle the increased need for what-if/scenario planning
- How to enable remote workers with self-service data access and automated report distribution
Accurate reporting is more important than ever during times of economic uncertainty. Ensure you have real-time access to the data you need to make key business decisions in an instant with the help of this recorded webinar.
Melissa: Hi there, everyone. This is Melissa here from Encore Business Solutions. I’m a marketing specialist here. And so, today we have Aaron from insightsoftware to talk about Jet Global. Hi, Aaron.
Aaron: Hi. Thanks for having me. Thanks for putting this together today. Always appreciate working with you and the rest of the folks at Encore. And thanks, everyone, for joining. Today we’re gonna be looking into how we can use rapid, real-time reporting to steer your business through unprecedented change. My name, Aaron Straughan. I’m a senior channel manager here at insightsoftware, formerly known as Jet Global, Jet Reports. We go way back in the Dynamics space. You’re likely familiar with us. I’ve been working with Jet for a few years now, initially working with existing customers, but since then, I’ve branched out to work with some of our great partners like Encore, and help new customers realize how they can better make use of their data to make more informed decisions out of all their Dynamics data, and really help harness it to drive their business forward.
And so, really getting into what we’re gonna look at today, hopefully, a little bit about insightsoftware, but we’re gonna get in real quickly into how we can use our reporting to navigate change, how we can improve the frequency of how we’re able to report and access this data, and make sure we’re not waiting around for information that can be important to the decisions we have to make day to day as a business. We’ll look at how we can leverage prebuilt reports right out of the box with Jet, to quickly build up your library of reports and get the data you need into the hands of the users you need it to. And on that note, we’ll also look at how we can enable remote workers. Obviously, folks are spread out these days, and while some of you may be moving back into the office or, you know, rejoining the team, many others are kind of adapting and looking at a long-term trend of keeping remote people working, and we’ll look at how we can enable those users. And then, finally, something we’re getting a lot of demand for is data visualization. Users wanna be able to analyze trends, not just look at static snapshots of their data. They wanna be able to drive those insights that help tell them where that business is going, how they can anticipate future change. And so, those are kind of the subjects we’re gonna look at today. So let’s jump in. Let’s get started.
As I mentioned, insightsoftware, we acquired Jet back in 2019, so just last year, as part of an initiative where insightsoftware’s focused on serving the office of the CFO, and they have different solutions for different major ERPs. Jet was the obvious solution for the Dynamics space, given the fact that we have over 14,000 customers using our tools in conjunction with all the Dynamics systems, whether you’re on GP, NAV, Business Central. We’ve been helping users better utilize their Dynamics data since 2002. And so it was a natural fit to have us be the solution offering for the Dynamics suite. And we’ve just kept right on as we always have, working closely with Microsoft to make sure our products are gonna be forward compatible, and are gonna help users get the latest and greatest out of those different Dynamics platforms.
And so, with that in mind, let’s focus on the task at hand, you know, how we can impact our business with the current reporting reality. The bottom line is that things are shifting, things are changing much faster than what you typically see, and so, we need to be nimble in our analysis of the data, and make sure we’re reviewing things on a week by week basis, on a daily basis, you know, whatever we need to, to be able to drive decisions for our business. But I think many users are finding that if you’re waiting until end of month close to look back and see what happened in the past month, you’re probably a little too late to make some of the decisions that are important to your business. And so, we’ll be looking at a few ways where we can address this through real-time data access, frequent reporting cadence, being able to drill into transactional detail at the click of a button, and then also ways that we can help generate ad hoc reporting, you know, answer those questions that come up when you view a report quickly, rather than having to wait around for IT or wait around for other resources to free up, to be able to get that information to your decision makers.
And so, when we’re talking about what kind of data’s important, let’s dig into that a little bit as well. And this is something where, you know, I’m kind of… We’re gonna focus a lot on the prebuilt projects, a lot on what we can do right out of the box with Jet, and that’s a little different from how I usually talk to customers [inaudible 00:04:49]. Typically, we’re looking at, “Hey, what can we do with our library of reports, you know, three months down the line, six months down the line?” Once we’ve built out an extensive library of reports, we’ve set up automated distributions for all our users, you know, we’re kind of looking at that long trend, but folks who are looking into a reporting solution day, they’re wondering, “What am I getting today? What am I getting right out of the box? How long is it gonna take me to get up and running?” So we’re gonna focus on some of the stuff that we can provide right out of the box day one to help get you up and running, and these are a lot of the reports that we’ve actually just built and just retailored to suit the current conditions at hand.
And so, you can see, you know, rolling cashflows, compliance reporting, payables, receivables, vendor analysis. These are the kind of reports we’re getting a lot of demand for. And so, I wanna talk about why this information is important as it relates to the current environment, and I wanna do so by walking through some of these prebuilt reports. And so, you know, when we get into what the business application of this is, we’re basically looking at what main levers can we control to reduce critical business risk? Folks right now, that are dealing with managing their business and making sure they can keep the lights on, it’s not necessarily about profitability, it’s more about managing your cash flows, managing your working capital, and making sure you have cash on hand. So we’re gonna kind of dive into how we can tighten up our cashflow management discipline, how we can reduce some of those working capital expenses, bolster our cash positions, and exploit some short-term revenue opportunities. And as I said, we’re gonna do this by looking at some of the prebuilt reports available to us right out of the box with Jet Reports.
And so, just, before we dive in there and start getting into the business side of it, wanna make sure we’re all familiar with what Jet Reports is, what this tool’s designed to do. And so, Jet Reports is a Excel add-in. It bolts directly into Excel, and then connects straight into your ERP, so you have live, up-to-the minute data directly out of your ERP. So whether you’re on GP, NAV, Business Central, we’re gonna be able to connect to it, and we can pull data from any table, field, or view within that system. That means if you’re a GP user that has third-party add-ons, custom SQL views, any additional attachments, and modifications, so that data is living in GP. We’re gonna be able to access it and utilize it in Jet to build out your reporting.
And then, the way we do this is very unique as well. We allow you to design these directly inside of Excel. That means you can tie in any existing Excel functionality you want to, build in formulas, charts, and graphs, conditional formatting, whatever you need to not just extract the data, but get those calculated values, those outputs and metrics that you’re really looking to track with your business. That way, you refresh the data, you’re getting everything, including the deliverables you’re looking through without having to go then and manually export or calculate those values. And as you’ll see, it’s something that’s designed for the average Excel user, so it doesn’t require hard coding or programming knowledge.
And with that said, let’s kind of dive into this. I’m gonna go ahead, jump right into Excel here. Here we have a prebuilt cash flow statement, available right out of the box, and the whole idea with these Jet Reports is that you can refresh these anytime you need to, to pull in the most up-to-date information right out of the ERP. A lot of these will have report options built-in. This is a great way for you to allow a user to answer that question, “Hey, I wanna see this report this way. Can you break it out this way?” You know, maybe you wanna see it broken out across different segment codes or across your global dimensions. You can set those up to be report options, to make it really easy for users to slice and dice that data. You can also just do simple things like allow them to pick their end date, and then, say I wanna do a rolling cash flow, broken out over the last three months from that date, great. I can now refresh report, pull in the most up-to-date information right out of the ERP, and there we go, we have our new date range, we have our new information. We saw that our charts and graphs populated as well, so we can keep some light Excel-based dashboarding in here as well.
And then the whole idea with these prebuilt reports is you wanna go back and modify these, customize these to fit your business. We can just jump back into design mode and see that a lot of times, all that needs to be done here is just updating the accounts to line up with your chart of accounts. So make sure we’re grabbing the right cash accounts, the net income account, you know, making sure this information lines up with your chart of accounts, and then from there, you’re pretty much set up to be able to run these reports and generate data off of your information, get the reports you need, get the information you’re looking for.
And when we’re talking about cashflow management, it’s really, you know, this is the lifeblood of any business. And so, it’s very important to keep a handle on these, and the strategy that you wanna approach on this is really to try to both collect receivables as quickly as possible, but then also, you wanna focus on paying your suppliers in a manner that’s predictable, but not necessarily quickly. The whole idea here is there’s two key metrics you wanna do your best to align, if possible. There’s days sales outstanding, and days payables outstanding. If you can get those as close as possible, it’s gonna set you up well to ensure you have money coming in to manage all your payables, and you won’t run into a cash flow problem there. As far as how we can approach, you know, receivables, obviously, there’s tactics such as increasing billing frequency, providing discounts for earlier payment, and even if necessary, tightening credit requirements for new members. But, again, just having access to this data so you can see your receivables, you can see your payables, see how those line up in your aging buckets and do your best to line things up so that you can see a fairly even outflow and inflow of capital.
If we wanna look at another area to focus on is, of course, working capital, and folks are always focused on how can we manage our working capital. The key metric here, of course, being how many days working capital do I have? And so, in this case, we’re gonna be doing things like we wanna look at how we can minimize inventory, whether that’s for liquidating redundant inventory, moving to drop shipping, optimizing your utilization and tracking. That comes into the fold if you’re a services-based organization as well, right? Proper tracking of those is gonna allow you to see your utilization and understand whether you’re working efficiently, or if there’s ways to improve that efficiency. And then also beyond that, just work out billing work in progress as frequently as possible, to keep that coming in and keep a handle on it.
And so, again, we have reports right out of the box to help get you up and running with this. Here’s a quick snapshot of working capital and current ratio. And then regarding those questions for managing inventory, we’re gonna provide you with inventory reporting as well. That’s because Jet is really meant to be a full self-service reporting tool that gives you access to all of your data and your ERP, not just financials. Obviously, with inventory, you’re gonna be looking for a couple things, right? You’re gonna be wanting to make sure you’re eliminating any kind of redundant inventory. If there’s ways where you can reduce inventory of products that aren’t selling much or don’t have a high margin, high return on investment, that’d be another place to look for. Here’s a very simple report that we actually just created for your use, inventory with no activity. Simple enough, but, you know, hey, is something that’s just not selling? You’re just losing money with this sitting on your shelves? Great opportunity to find out what is not being sold, and potentially liquidate that, find a way to eliminate that from your balance sheets, free up some additional capital.
And so, beyond that now, we’re talking about ways to, you know, ways to reduce these costs, ways to improve. We also wanna look at ways we can exploit short-term revenue opportunities. This means mining your existing customer base, incentivizing customer referrals, and understanding and assess priority customers. And so, you know, this comes down to reports that not just tell you who your customers are, but which ones are your most profitable, which ones have sold the most, which one are you actually making the most money off of? And so, it may come down to better understanding which customers buy which products, and ranking them in such a way where you can really identify which ones are the priority. It may not be your largest volume customer. It may be someone that’s more focused on selling a high margin item. But, again, the whole idea is that you have a real-time reporting tool that allows you to access this data immediately, without having to wait for IT, without having to wait for month-end close, and it gives you the flexibility to actually design these reports to have the look and feel you want to, and to get the information deliverables you want.
So let’s take a look at what that looks like to actually build some stuff out. You know, we’ve already shown, you’re gonna be set up for success with a whole library of prebuilt reports. We have over 60 for GP, over 100 for NAV and Business Central. And really, as we saw in that short example there, much of it just comes down to making some tweaks to line things up with your chart of accounts, so you’re pulling in the relevant information for your business. But, again, you know, I wanna highlight that this is meant to be a flexible tool that makes reporting easy for users. So let’s look at a few different examples of how we can go about in doing that.
I’m gonna go ahead and connect over to Business Central here. And for the first example, I wanna use this fast financials tool, very popular tool, because it gives you the quick, easy view into your general ledger. In fact, there’s really no quicker way to bring your general ledger detail into your reporting. And so, we can see here, you know, we can bring our account name, bring our balance information, budget information. We can have it calculate variance and variance percent if we want for us, as well. And then, if I wanna bring some of this data into this report, say, I wanna put together a quick P&L, I can scroll down through here, go to our Revenue account. We’ll scroll through our Cost of Goods, scroll through our Expense Accounts. And I’ll just scroll through to the bottom here, shift-click to grab the whole range, and I can actually now just drag and drop this whole section into here, and Excel’s, or Jet’s now gonna go query the database, pull back that information, and lay it out for me right inside of Excel, much as how we have it formatted here.
And now, the whole idea with this, if this is how I want this report to look, maybe that quick extract is all I need. I can now refresh this report on demand, and it’s gonna give me some report options right out of the box, which is a great way to allow you to slice and dice the data a bit, right? You don’t want to always have to, you know, hear, “We’ll kind of look at it this way. Can I see it another way?” You know, most commonly, I’m imagining you’re probably hearing, “I want this broken out. Can I filter this by my department savings? Can I break this out across this global dimension?”
These report filters make that so the end user can refresh themselves, filter the data themselves, like if they wanna break this out on a couple specific customer groups, if they wanted to see it broken out a couple different companies, or from a specific budget you have stored in your ERP, you have that flexibility, and then when you refresh the report, you’re gonna get the updated data based on that criteria. And so, if that’s all you need, great, but know that Jet’s always gonna give you something to work with so you can customize these reports to your needs. If we go back into design mode, we can see that each cell that we drag and drop into here actually has a formula.
So we can go back and modify any of this we want to, and we can do so using our common, you know, Excel functionality here. So, say we wanted to actually see this rather than one big lump, we wanted to see it broken out month by month, we can just copy-paste that over. Since these are using cell referencing to tie to these date ranges here, that means we can just come into here and if I wanna update this date range, I can plug in some values, and you’re seeing your cash data immediately update to reflect that change, so we can break it out month over month. And then, say, you’re wondering, “Well, hey, I also wanna compare this to last year. Is this part of a current economic trend? Is this something we saw last year?” Well, that’s easy enough too. I just duplicate this over, and we’ll just jump in real quick and we’ll change the year. And then quick and easy, I was able to modify this, break it out month over month. If I wanted to pull this out and filter by any specific dimensions, I could, or just bring in the whole dataset, but you see that it’s very easy to modify these reports to have the look and feel you want to, to batch out different versions of them, to be able to customize it so that you aren’t, you know, having to go back and rebuild reports 100 different ways because of all the different ways you want to analyze the data.
And then beyond that, if we wanna drill into any of this information, get into transactional detail, it’s just a click away. That arrow there tells us there’s drill-down information. We can also access it up here in the Jet ribbon. And this is either gonna take you, if you’re in NAV or Business Central, and you have it set up that way, you can have it open right up into your ERP, right into that transactional window, but you can also have it open in grid view, right inside of Excel, how I have it set up, too. And for you folks on GP, this is the experience that you would have with the drill-down, where it opens up in this grid view. You can see all the transactions for that given balance, as well as all the metadata tied to those transactions. So you’ll be able to see quite a bit of information on these, and you can filter, and organize, and sort by any one of these variables. We could pull this up to the top and separate out our invoices from our credit memos. If you wanted to break it out by your different business posting groups, you can do so as well. So, quite a bit of ways you can slice and dice the data within this, and then if that’s not enough, you can also export this back into Excel for additional analysis on it. So it gives you full visibility into all of your transactional detail, right at the click of a button.
Okay? But we’re not limited to just financials. We’re gonna give you some other ways to access data as well. I’m gonna go ahead and show one more example here. This time I’ll go ahead and connect to the GP database. And we can see that Jet has a handful of tools specifically built for that system as well. One that’s very popular with our GP users is this browser, because, as you see, gets to a clean, easy view into all your tables and fields. I’ll move this over to make sure we’re looking at the GP tables. And, when it loads those up, you’re gonna see not only is it showing your GP tables, but Jet’s also added friendly names to help make it a little easier to find what you’re looking for. So, we’re gonna provide you with friendly names right out of the box. We’re also gonna provide these custom Jet SQL views that install right out of the box as well. And these integrate with a lot of our prebuilt reports, but they also just include some of the most commonly used day-to-day reporting tables and some of the most common information you’re using in your reporting. So we can see our vendor detail, purchasing information, all of that. And then if you’re using third-party add-ons, things like analytical accounting or MEM, know that Jet’s gonna work just fine with those. We’ll be able to access, again, any table, field, or view inside of GP, so, you know, maybe something as simple as those tables are ready to go, and you can view them directly. Maybe it’s something where you work with the folks at Encore to develop some custom SQL views to better clean up that data, but Jet’s gonna be able to utilize it.
And if we wanted to take an example here, pulling from this customer SQL view, that clarified a few customer tables inside GP, we can see what fields we have available. You can preview the data we wanna pull into this. And if I wanna do a quick customer report, I can go ahead and start grabbing some of these. We’ll grab customer number and name, go ahead and grab their state, grab their sales. And then I can just drag and drop this over, hit Run, and I’m gonna have my data. Of course, you know, it’s a pretty, just kind of a data dump, you know, 100 or so lines. I’m sure you have reports that if you ran this, there’d be thousands.
So, again, let’s look at how we can modify this, because you’re gonna sense a pattern here. That was written in the form of a formula, just as before, and so now I can fully modify this, customize this to fit what I’m looking to accomplish with it. So, if I go in to open this up, we can see here we’re now in this NL function, which is, frankly, it’s the most powerful tool in the Jet ribbon. This example, it’s returning data across rows. It’s pulling from this table. We’re pulling in these fields. But if I open this up, there’s actually a whole host of ways we can return data with this. So you can filter as it’s coming through, break out any data point you want across rows, columns, or sheets, create sums, lookups, link multiple tables together. I mean, just a lot of firepower with this tool. Of course, here, we wanna focus on kind of really just kind of cleaning up this dataset. It was a little messy. You know, let’s see what we can do there, so maybe we’ll go ahead and we’ll filter by sales.
Maybe we only wanna see our more priority customers. So we’ll say let’s only see those accounts that have sales greater than 10,000, and then let’s also filter by state, and we can grab some of the states in there. And I think I saw there was a fair amount in the Midwest. So I’m gonna go ahead and grab a few over there, so we make sure we have some data in this. And then when I hit OK, you’re gonna see the cash data update to reflect those changes. And then beyond that, we’re in Excel. That’s the whole idea, right? So if we wanna go ahead and build in some additional logic into this, maybe we wanna factor in a margin calculation, we can easily build that in. This one, we could attach a chart and graph to as well if we wanted to, so maybe I’ll just come into here. We’ll just do a little formatting, clean this up a little bit before we run it. Let’s get that chart in there. I’ll just go ahead and select these. I’ll put that chart right there. I’m gonna drag this Fit command over. This is a Jet keyword that’s gonna automatically adjust the columns to match the information within them. And then we’ll run this report and see what we get.
Okay? There we go. Clean that up a little bit. Frankly, I still wanted a little bit smaller dataset. I’m kind of looking at these. So maybe I wanted to actually raise the bar to 20,000. Maybe we only wanna see those. Again, I can modify these any way I want to. And if I know the tool well enough, I don’t even need to open up the function. I can see it right here in the address, in the formula bar. I’m just gonna update that sales filter to 20,000. You see the cash data update. Now we run the report. Here we go. Cleaned it up a little more, little smaller dataset. I feel good about this. I’m ready to send it off to some new users.
So let’s look at how we can, once we’ve designed these reports, get them in the hands of the users who need this information to make decisions. I’m gonna go ahead, we’ll just save this. I’m just gonna go ahead and save this to my desktop and we will just save this, name this Webinar Example. I’ll go ahead and hit Upload here, and we’ll just send this right over to the Jet Hub. Okay? So it tells us that we have our data in there. So let’s go ahead and log into the Jet Hub and take a look at this. I’m gonna go ahead and log into this, so I can see my own unique experience in the Jet Hub. And while that’s loading, I’m gonna pop open a slide here, and let’s just talk real quick about what the Jet Hub allows you to do. So this is a tool that’s designed as a centralized report management system to give you access to your reports and allow you to share those with users wherever they’re located. We have automated distribution right out of the Jet ribbon, where you can set email distribution, send those out as Jet-enabled workbooks, value-only workbooks, or even PDFs. But having a centralized location where everyone can access the reports can be very appealing. You can manage version control, you can set up auto-archiving, and it allows users to access that data even if they’re not on the domain, so that way, if you have users out in the field, maybe sales teams, you need to access inventory data that’s up-to-the-minute out in the field, this is a way to enable those users.
So let’s take a look at what they get with the Jet Hub. When I open this up and log in, I’m only gonna see reports that either I have uploaded or that have been shared with me. So it’s important to note that each person is gonna have their own unique experience within the web portal. And then they can refresh these reports any time they want, right out of the web portal. We can see there, this is the report that I just sent up there. So that’s ready to go if I wanted to. Of course, maybe there’s another one I wanna look at. For example, here’s a consolidated financial statement we have broken out across our different segments, also giving us the ability to pick and choose what date range we want to pull from. So, report options work in the Jet Hub as well. And then you can refresh those reports from the hub any time you’d like to. There’s also gonna be quite a few details tracked on any given one of these for you. So you’ll be able to see when it was last uploaded, how long it took to run, what data source this particular report was pulling from. You can see who it’s shared with, either individual users or user groups, and you’re gonna be able to, for each individual, each time you run a report, you’re gonna be able to see an archive of that report.
And so, that means if you set up an automated distribution to refresh this report in a user’s web portal first thing each morning, you’re also setting up a daily auto-archive. So there’s some nice kind of redundancy there in helping manage your library of reports. And then on a similar note, if you’ve uploaded the report multiple times, even multiple folks across your team uploading different versions of the same report, you would see each one of those, and you have the option to restore earlier versions to be the default. So we’re gonna provide version control for you within this as well. And then, when we set up sharing, we can set up these to share with individual users, user groups, and you can have those refresh daily, weekly, monthly, I mean, whatever cadence you’d like to establish. And then once it’s time to open these up and view that data, you can either download those back into Excel, or we can open them in Excel online. And it’s just gonna go ahead, run through our multifactor authentication, and pull up this report for us right here inside of Excel.
And so, we can see here, we have our consolidated income statement refresh for the current day, where we can get our financials here, and then if we wanna break it down into any of our particular departments, in the case of this database, we can certainly do so as well there. So, again, great way to enable your remote workers to be able to access the data they need when and wherever they’re located.
And then, keep in mind, since everything we do is built off the Microsoft stack, if you wanna integrate this with OneDrive, with SharePoint, you’re able to do so as well, so, several different ways where you can manage the distribution of these, but know that, you know, any users accessing this data with Jet, they’re still gonna be named users, and Jet is still going to honor the security you already have within your ERP. So if users don’t have access to specific tables and fields in that system, they’re not gonna be able to bypass it with Jet. Okay?
And so, jumping back in real quick, we’ve kind of looked at some of the ways we can use prebuilt reports, how we can design reports live directly out of the ERP, and then how we can get those reports in the hands of those users and set those up so they have that data when and wherever they’re located. Now, for some organizations, you know, maybe your challenges extend to just beyond your ERP, or maybe you were looking to leverage data visualization as part of this initiative, you know, being able to better analyze trends, being able to visualize the data and hopefully, you know, spark some insights for more users by creating that more intuitive way to view and process and analyze the data.
If that’s sounding familiar, Jet Analytics is gonna come into play for anyone who wants to leverage business intelligence to help speed up the reporting process, streamline things, and really lower the barrier to entry for users to be able to report. And what a lot of users…anytime you’re looking at a real-time reporting tool, even a fantastic, intuitive Excel-based one like Jet Reports, I mean, you still have to know where the data lives in the ERP, how you’re gonna link together multiple tables. Again, you know, the burden is on the end user to understand the data structure and know how to get that data out. And so, what business intelligence is really all about, it’s about optimizing your data for reporting.
So let’s unpack this a little bit. Jet has a very unique offering in this in the form that we have a prebuilt data warehouse and cubes. We have different versions of this, both for GP, for NAV, also for Business Central. But before we get into that, I wanna unpack a little bit what we’re talking about with business intelligence, so that we’re all on the same page here.
I like to use this graphic. I think it does a good job illustrating kind of what the process entails. So, it starts with your Dynamics database. As you all know, those are complex webs of tables and fields that have specific relationships between them. And it’s not disorganized, but it may be a little bit of data overload for users, especially if they’re new to that system. You know, again, they need to know where those tables are, how to apply linking tables, where those common keys are. And so, there’s kind of that knowledge threshold to be able to report against it. But what we do is we funnel this data into a data warehouse, where we’re organizing it by subject matter. We’re only pulling in the relevant data.
And then at that point, we’re also tying in data from multiple systems. So maybe you have a legacy ERP, CRM, payroll systems, inventory or warehousing software. The whole idea is we take data from all those disparate systems and combine it together so you have one unified dataset across your whole organization, that’s optimized for reporting. And that’s where a lot of BI tools will stop. We actually take it one step further, by funneling those into cubes, where we add dimensionality, and give you everything pre-calculated in every combination possible. That means if you have important KPIs, metrics that matter to your business, we can build that logic into the backend, so you have one version of the truth across your whole organization, and you don’t have to worry about people bringing different numbers to the table. All values will be calculated the same. That means your data is governed, and managed, and accurate.
And so, if we zoom out a little bit on this, you know, kind of looking at the technology stack, you know, it could be your Dynamics database. I mentioned CRM or legacy systems. We use a tool called the Jet Data Manager, that’s a data warehouse automation tool, to help transform this data and build in the customizations off of that prebuilt project that we have. And so, the Jet Data Manager, it automates all the SQL coding and ETL processes, and is benchmarked as over five times faster than traditional BI methodology. So we’ll take that, apply it to the base data model, and build out any of those customizations that narrow to your business, that align the data to your business, and help get those insights and metrics that you’re looking for. And then you can consume that data however you’d like from there. As you’ll see in a sec, works great with Jet inside of Excel. You can also leverage Jet Analytics. It comes with its own dashboard builder, or, since we have everything built off the Microsoft stack, you can also leverage tools like Power BI to make use of that data.
But again, I wanna emphasize here, the value in a business intelligence implementation is not the fun tools you get to play with at the end, it’s in the value of that data model. And, obviously, Jet having a prebuilt project for each of the Dynamics platforms that gets you about 90% of where you need to be with that data, it’s gonna give you a huge leg up in getting this up and running, dramatically reducing the time to deployment, the time to value, reducing the number of hours it takes to build this out. And I think the biggest thing, dramatically reduces the risk of an implementation, because you’re not building this out from scratch, you’re using a tried and true base model that hundreds of users are deploying out in the field already, and then you’re just customizing it to suit your business.
So, I know that was a lot. Let’s kind of jump in and see what this looks like, see what this is. So, I’m gonna go ahead and jump back into Excel. We’ll just open up a new workbook here, and I’m gonna go ahead and we will just connect to the demo cubes. And, you’ll see when I do, couple of these different functions are greyed out, but we do still have the main Jet functions if we wanna use those, or, pivot tables work excellently with the cubes. Let’s go ahead and take a look at that. I’m gonna go ahead and open this up, and what we’re gonna look at here are some of our prebuilt cubes built off of the base models, with some sample data populated. This is kind of looking at what you’ll get out of the box. If I wanted to go ahead and…say we wanted to look at our payables data, I can just connect to the Payables cube, and you see on the right now, we’re no longer looking at our traditional table and field structure. Instead, once we’re in the cubes, we’re gonna be looking at things called measures and dimensions. These measures, these are gonna be your numerical values, so, you know, amounts, days’ outstanding, balances, any kind of numerical value. And then dimensions are gonna be things to give relevance and meaning to those numbers. So it could be your aging buckets, the way you categorize and break out your vendors, your different global dimensions or segments, or, again, anything that’s gonna give relevance and meaning to these numbers, that’s gonna be a dimension.
So let’s look at how we can put some of this detail together. We talked about the importance of understanding our payables and receivables and trying to align those. So let’s see how quickly we can put some of that data together with Analytics. We’ll go ahead and grab my Amounts. Analytics already calculated this, everything to me in the local currency, in the backend, but if I wanted to build this off of the transactional currency, of course, I could do so as well. We’ll grab our aging buckets, split those out across columns. Let’s go ahead and split out our vendors, broken by our vendor posting groups, so we can see those. And then let’s go ahead and…we’ll wanna slice these as, well, I know I’m gonna wanna be able to see this broken out by some different currencies for this one, because in this scenario, we’re kind of treating it like it’s a international business, you know, as you see, we do have a UK office here as well, so we’ll make sure we can break those out across those currencies. And then let’s just go ahead and add a slicer, or a filter as well, so we can include those open or closed transactions. And so, real quick and easy, without having to know anything about the underlying data structure, without having to know any of the currency conversions or calculations, I can very quickly spin up some pivot tables and get my data right out of the cubes with not just the raw data, but the calculated values that I’m really looking for.
It really simplifies the reporting experience. I can say the team at Jet here, all of us generate our own reporting using Analytics, because really, these pivot tables just make it so streamlined and easy to do so. But of course, you know, what we wanted to talk about today is how we can apply these tools to use data visualization. People, we’re very visual, people. We tend to be extremely skilled at pattern recognition, identifying trends. And so, being able to provide visual representations of the data, rather than requiring those users go through the extra process of kind of synthesizing and analyzing the raw data, gives people a way to more intuitively understand the information and make more natural decisions off of it. And so, beyond that, they also just look good for presentations. We see folks all the time set up high-level presentation dashboards, and then also send out detailed Jet reports for those folks who like to drill into the detail, get into the weeds of the data.
But again, you know, if you wanna use data visualization, the cubes make that extremely easy to do so. You can see in Power BI, we’re sitting on top of these cubes and, you know, if I wanna look at a particular visual here, you see it’s generally a measure of picking a measure, picking a dimension, and then tying that to a particular visual, and you’ll have your dashboard pane. And then you can slice and dice this data, sift through things, break it out by specific warehouses, what have you. Pretty shift one over here. This is another Power BI dashboard we have, that’s built off of the finance cubes. Very similar setup here, with the addition of now we also have those GL levels. So, some of these may be pulling from a specific GL level, but again, it really organizes the data in a way that makes it very straightforward and intuitive to build out these dashboards.
Let’s look at another one we can take from the top. I’ll go ahead and get data. And if you haven’t seen what Power BI looks like directly off a database, let’s pause real quick and make sure we understand that. And what you’re gonna see here, what we’re really gonna illustrate, is the difference between BI backend and BI frontend. Power BI is a fantastic BI frontend tool. But if I wanted to connect this directly to, say, I wanna… Let’s see if I have my GP tables handy here. Not seeing. I see my data warehouse. Okay. I’m gonna go ahead and connect to the Jet, the NAV database in this case. And so, we see here, it’s not gonna help us with the data at all. We’re still gonna have to select each table we want to load into this. We’re gonna have to select any related tables, key up the common keys, and load and transform this data before we can do anything with it inside of Power BI. For most users, that’s a barrier that either requires IT to come into the fold, requires involvement from the partner, whatever the case, it’s not something your average financial professional can put together. But on the flip side of that, if we go ahead and connect to the cubes on the analysis services, you’ll see that Jet Analytics is gonna bring us the backend that allows Power BI to do what it’s advertised to do. We can just go ahead and connect the OLAP cubes. I’ll connect to the Sales cube for this example. And you see, I just select the cube, it loads those measures and dimensions into the tray here, and now I can start building out my visuals. So if I wanna go ahead. We’ll grab a visual here. We’ll break out our sales by salesperson. So I’ll go ahead and put that one there. Go ahead and expand this a little bit. Let’s do another one where we can see our sales broken out by our different item categories.
Okay? I mentioned wanting to be able to do trend analysis, you know, detect kind of trends over time. So let’s go ahead and break this out quarterly as well. Maybe we can see if there’s any kind of seasonality to our business. So we’ll go ahead and break out by quarter. And then, know that Jet’s dashboard builder, if you’re going for kind of the simple, you know, default dashboard visuals, Jet has all of these. You can build these kinds of dashboards very quick and easy with the dashboard builder that comes with Jet, and those dashboards will be loaded right up in the Jet Hub, along with your reports you share there. But, Power BI can do a few things that are pretty fun. Like, we can take this map visual, and I could overlay a visual representation of my most profitable customers based on where they’re located on that geography.
And so, you can build out some more interactive dashboards where now if I wanna start diving into these, I can get into each individual’s numbers, see where their territory is, where they’re having success. If I wanna try to identify any kind of seasonality, I can look in here and see if there’s any differences on, you know, which units are selling. And so, you can kind of process this data, interact with it, and kind of get into it and get the insights that you’re looking for out of it without having to get bogged down going through spreadsheets. You just have a quick visual representation that you can interact and slice and dice.
And so, if you’re looking for data visualization, trying to pull data from multiple systems, or even if you’re just, you know, maybe you’re new to Dynamics, you have a team that has a whole stack of reports you need to get done, and you just can’t wait for everyone to learn the new system, learn the new chart of accounts, you know, again, this is optimizing the data for reporting, and simplifying that experience to lower the barrier to entry for more users to be able to report, or build dashboards, whatever they need to do to get that data presented in a way that you can use it to make more informed decisions for your business.
And so, with that in mind, that’s more or less what I had prepared today. I do want to leave with a little bit of a discount incentive. Frankly, if you have a reporting need right now, we understand that that’s not something that can wait around, but we also understand it’s a difficult time right now to be able to make purchase and investments. So we’re trying to help just make it a little easier for customers. We’re offering 20% off Jet Reports or Jet Analytics foundation packages for our perpetual licensing. We’re also offering 50% off additional designers and viewers on those perpetual licenses as well. And those last two extend to existing customers as well. If you’re looking at upgrading from reports to analytics, or you’re just finding you need more users, you wanna get this tool in the hands of more people, we’re gonna help provide ways to enable that as well. And then if you’re on subscription, or we’re looking at subscription options, we offer both monthly and annual subscription, with the annual having about a 30% discount on the monthly subscription. So, couple different ways that, if what you saw is something you know your organization needs, and you wanna get it as soon as possible, we have some ways to help make that a little more affordable for your organization. And so, with that in mind, thank you, everyone, for joining today. Thank you, Encore, for hosting us. And if there are any questions, I’m more than happy to tackle those at this point.
Melissa: Thanks, Aaron. I’m just gonna look at the question pane here, and, doesn’t look like anything has come in, so we might be able to give everyone a little bit of time back. Unless there’s anything else you wanted to add?
Aaron: I think we can give them a few minutes back.
Melissa: All right.
Aaron: Yeah. Thanks for your time, everyone. And if questions come up, of course, you can reach out to me directly. My contact info is there, and the whole Encore team is very knowledgeable about Jet as well, and they will be a great resource for any questions you have, too.
Melissa: Thanks very much. Have a good afternoon, everyone.
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