Monthly Archives

February 2017

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The Need For Agnostic Reporting

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The Need For Agnostic Reporting

The evolution of business systems and data have really changed how people approach business intelligence and analytics today. Meaningful and valuable data no longer just comes from a single application, nor is it solely managed by IT. Organizations now have applications in the cloud that they subscribe to one day then switch off the next. Other sources of data, such as on premise legacy systems and ERP Systems, are pushing data volumes and velocity at a much greater scale, playing a big part in the SplashBI story.

Additionally, growth of the Internet of Things has been exploding – changing the way businesses and consumers interact with the physical world. With so many connected devices generating so much data in so many different forms (and from so many different sources), there’s often a need to create insights and meaning from this data.

In the world of business intelligence, the demand for self-service BI is louder than ever. Business users are demanding to access more data and information when they need it, without getting IT involved.

The evolution of self-service has transitioned over the years. Gartner predicts “By 2017, Most Business Users and Analysts in Organizations Will Have Access to Self-Service Tools to Prepare Data for Analysis”. (link) SaaS business applications such as SFDC were some of the first to embrace self-service, enabling many companies to stand up systems to support the business without getting IT involved. And if business applications cannot supply the necessary reporting on their own, business users often will continue their self-service journey and usually end up in Microsoft Excel. The downside for users is that pulling data into Excel doesn’t allow for easy refreshing and can often result in overly complex worksheets. Once users get to pivot tables and need to pull data together from multiple sources, it can become extremely difficult to analyze.

This was followed in recent years by desktop data discovery tools, which are especially popular with data analysts. These tools have made it easy to do some of the things that spreadsheets have not excelled at, specifically in the area of data visualizations and visual analysis. These tools have embraced ease of use, speed of analysis, and engaging user experiences. It’s no wonder that the growth of data-discovery tools from a business-driven, or bottom-up approach is now seen as stepping into the bounds of traditional IT-driven business intelligence, known as the top-down approach.

As a result of all of these things, the ideal reporting tool needs to do more than just reporting. This solution needs to offer greater levels of interactivity with the data, and needs to be developed with higher levels of technology. With the right tools, your organization can analyze 100% of its data quickly and easily, regardless of how far the data sits below the surface. Blending different data sets can empower users to explore data on their own without technical assistance from the IT Staff.

All of these needs have led to the development of SplashBI , a self-service on-demand reporting and dash boarding tool. Designed for end users to be self-sufficient without the assistance of IT, SplashBI allows users to run, ad-hoc, schedule and distribute their reports and visualizations. No matter the data source, SplashBI can connect to it and run your data. From large ERPs like Oracle and PeopleSoft to Cloud based ones like Taleo (HCM Cloud) or Fusion, and even SQL databases and Excel files, SplashBI can get the needed data quickly and easily. In addition, it can be accessed on multiple platforms, like browsers, Excel, and even mobile devices.

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Five Things To Look For In A Reporting Solution

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Five Things To Look For In A Reporting Solution

During a software DEMO, many users know what to ask, many don’t know what to ask, and many get overwhelmed with every detail that the software can offer.

What really matters is how the solution will solve pain points. The following are the most common basic questions one should ask during a demonstration of a software designed to enhance month-end process for your functional users:

1. Are there integration or connection capabilities to my ERP system?

– There are many methods to connect to an ERP system. Many of these systems lock down their environment, making it difficult for 3rd party software get data out of an ERP system. Only a few have found the ‘secret sauce’ by integrating the software into the ERP systems… some call this method “intrusive” but it works very well and is accepted by many IT personnel because is easy to use, can be supported by IT personnel, and training is minimal. The integrated software looks and feels as if it is part of the ERP system, and is intuitive for end users and IT departments. It is also worth mentioning that end users adapt to change faster with an integrated solution.

Another option is external software with a connection to the ERP system. While this method could have a longer acceptance period by end users, there are many benefits to it, such as easy maintenance, in-premise or in the cloud options, multiple source connectors and more. This method is easier to maintain by the 3rd parties and is known as “non-intrusive” in your ERP system. There are many advantages of this type of connector, but keep in mind there are many variables that could limit reporting capabilities for month end.

2. Does the 3rd party software offer On-Demand live transactional data?

95% of the population in a business needs real time data to make business decisions, adjustments and much more. Having data updated in a data warehouse delays decision making during month end, and timing could cost thousands of dollars or more. Whichever software is acquired, make sure live transactional data is available for one or multiple sources in one framework. Multiple frameworks mean multiple support fees, please do your research and find which software offer connections to multiple sources in one framework and on-demand live transactional detail for reporting. Note, one framework = one support fee.

3. Can it give me my data in Excel?

‘Nuff said! If your ERP system cannot give a clean format template in Excel, then find a 3rd party tool to help you get your valuable data in Excel. This simple functionality saves a tremendous time for end users and helps bypass the struggle of cleaning up downloaded data in Excel. You don’t believe me? Just ask anyone how important Excel is for reporting in HR, Payroll, Finance, Accounting or FP&A.

4. Does it have the ability to Schedule and Distribute?

When we talk about enhancing month end, then scheduling and distribution functionalities play an important role of closing the books faster. Have your reports ready when you need them by scheduling daily, weekly or monthly. If one report takes 5 minutes to complete and you have to run 10 of them, that is 50 minutes of precious time for analysis. Automate your reporting needs by scheduling and distributing reports to enhance month end. Not many 3rd parties offer both as a solution, please make your research and ensure these features are available for functional users.

5. What about Drilldown capabilities?

I see the invoice number on the report, but I need to check 25 invoices and navigate through 10 different steps per invoice to get customer, invoice, tax, vendor, distribution and more…running 15 different reports and merging data is a solution that could cost valuable hours during month end. Maybe requesting IT to build a report is the solution, but when will it be developed? Sometimes ERP systems offer a drilldown capability but it is limited, not modifiable and normally is not in an Excel format. As simple as it sounds, drilldown is a must for analysis. If you cannot live without a drilldown capability, make sure the software provides this feature and allow IT to easily modify, support, and get your drilldown in Excel for easy reporting. Many 3rd parties offer drilldown but only in HTML, so be sure to ask if drilldown can be offered through Excel.

In my functional experience, all these capabilities enhance analysis and speedup month end close. For some enterprises, many of the items above are not pain points, but around the globe many beg for these type of simple solutions. Since IT normally does the research and their concerns are different from users (such as performance, resource usage, security), it is important to know what functional capabilities will help the user base. I hope this blog brings awareness of what functional users look for and what to ask during a demo of a software.

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A Lesson In Business From The Modern Day Greeks

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A Lesson In Business From The Modern Day Greeks

I recently returned from a 2-week Mediterranean cruise to celebrate my youngest daughter’s graduation from high school.  It was an amazing cruise that allowed us to visit Italy, Greece and Turkey.  Each one was more beautiful than the last and I am hopeful that we made memories that will last a lifetime.

But there I was in Greece – a country that is on the verge of bankruptcy, in a place that certainly at this time would have the excuse of being “mad” or “angry” at their situation and how hard it really is.  Most Greeks are limited to take not more than 400 dollars out of their accounts in any given month.  How many of us already do that on a weekend? Yet every person I met in Greece, every one, told me the mantra they are living by now  – WE WORK TO LIVE, WE DON’T LIVE TO WORK –Getting to the trip wasn’t easy.  We planned and saved for over 18 months to afford us the opportunity to take the trip.  We sacrificed other things to keep the common goal of taking this trip as priority one.  At times it was hard, life pulls you in many directions and reality of life demands that you take care of your financial obligations before you get to have fun.

How amazing is that, and can’t we take those words into our everyday business life?  We don’t have to go 90 miles an hour every day, spinning our wheels, chasing our tails because we think we HAVE to.  Why can’t we step back and enjoy the journey not the actual destination.  Don’t keep doing the same thing each and every day that you have done and expect different results, that’s the definition of insanity!  Try and make your life easier…

All the software I have represented in my life tries to make things easier for end users.   That is what technology does.  But it seems lately, the process of evaluating, procuring and installing technology has become hard – for the client and the vendor.  Each often spend hundreds of hours in resources and manpower just to review the tools and options let alone the dollar costs.  That makes it hard, when you spend $100K of resources to buy a $30K product it’s hard to justify to management.  But we do it because that’s the way we’ve always bought software.  We don’t do it that way on items we buy personally so why do we have to keep doing it professionally?

Our tools are visual and seeing is believing – it’s one of our strengths here at EiS. So we won’t stop helping clients that way, but I am going to personally make it easier for people to work with us, and in truth, to make everything in my life easier.  I’ve been working for a very long time, and I’m looking forward to start living more. I hope you all do, too.