Business success depends on foresight, insight and hind-sight - usually all at the same time. Information is everything. But even more important than information is making sense of it all. At times, this is a daunting task. But Business Intelligence makes it easy.
If you've ever watched Excel churn away for hours and then come to a grinding halt, you know you've reached a point where you are trying to summarize too much data. It's time to call in the big guns. Depending on which version of SQL Server you have, you may find it comes pre-packed with Analysis Services, i.e. Business Intelligence.
Business Intelligence refers to all the stored information you have that can be analyzed for patterns in your business transactions, and the methods used to analyze it. Unlike normal management reports that are set in stone, Business Intelligence systems allow you to play with your data. This is called "pivoting". You may have come across Excel Pivot Tables a few times. Analysis Services is Pivot Tables times a hundred. It creates a huge cross-referenced matrix of data that you can study from any angle at high speed, and so make important decisions based on the results. The most important feature of any BI system is the ability to drill-down from highly summarized information into more detailed information when required. Analysis Services excels at this task.
As far as insight goes, Business Intelligence applications can help you see through walls. They dig deep into your existing information to unearth facts and figures that can prove essential to the smooth running of your business. There are many tools available that work seamlessly with Analysis Services.
Didn't we just say that Excel can't handle huge amounts of data? Yes, except when it is connected to Analysis Services. Since all of the grunt work is done on the server, Excel is only expected to handle the results. Microsoft designed Excel to be a front-end program for Analysis Services. So as long as the data is being cross-referenced on the server, Excel can take care of the presentation. And you get a powerful data analyzing system based on a familiar old friend.
Microsoft built SQL Reporting Framework on top of both SQL Server and Analysis Services. So you can get management reports from either system. Why not just use Excel? Because Reporting Framework offers a reporting system that anyone in the company can use. Because it's a system that displays information in your web browser, report designers can create a report once and immediately have it available to anyone in your company. No more copying files from computer to computer to make sure everyone gets the same version of the same report. While Excel is great for personal analysis, Reporting Framework creates a company standard by making sure that everyone uses the same reports and therefore measures success by the same criteria.
SYSPRO's original reporting system is broken into two unique applications. Firstly, the SYSPRO Report Writer is used to create general management reports for any module in SYSPRO. The Financial Report Writer offers the ability to create reports specifically for the General Ledger, that allow for the cross-referencing of various financial categories against the chart of accounts. The reports created by both report writing systems can be viewed from inside SYSPRO, or can be exported in various formats, like XML, to be viewed in external programs, like your Web Browser. They do not communicate with Analysis Services and allow limited drilling-down, but are mentioned here as they are at the centre of day-to-day reporting and are therefore also part of any Business Intelligence initiative.
Although the two internal report writers are powerful, they don't provide much in the way of formatting. Reporting Services was created to allow for flexibility in reporting. The Services hook into Crystal Reports for powerful reporting and formatting capabilities from inside SYSPRO. SYSPRO Reporting Services is considered to be the future of SYSPRO reporting. Many of SYSPRO's standard reports have already been converted to be rendered by the new system. So reports can be presentation quality and can use any of the components Crystal Reports provides, like charts.
SYSPRO Analytics was created to address the need for management statistics. It links into SQL Analysis Services to show highly summarized and cross-referenced information about your company's performance. It is an invaluable tool for getting a bird's eye view of what is going on. And it allows for drilling down into data to get to the source of the information being studied. Analytics has both a matrix view and a chart view so information can be seen both structurally and graphically. There are a range of features that can help you get to the bottom of any scenario for which you have data.
Inside SYSPRO you will find more than enough management reports to give you blow-by-blow information on the current status of your business. Also, SYSPRO has query screens for all modules that allow you to analyze specific elements, like customers, suppliers or jobs.
To build a successful business, you will need to make informed decisions about critical factors that influence its growth. Having a Business Intelligence system makes it so much easier. At DracoTec we are highly competent when it comes to Business Intelligence. We will spend time with you discussing your information needs, showing you how you can get to the key variables for running your business successfully, and setting up a solid system to provide you with a wealth of vital information.