Business intelligence capabilities in Dynamics AX have been a consistent pain point for finance teams throughout its evolution at Microsoft.
Thousands of analysts who use the software to slice and dice cash flows, prepare management reports, and investigate sales and productivity have experienced serious frustration in producing reports and analysis for their operational data. Here are three of the biggest limits of BI in Dynamics AX:
Lacking Access to All Your Enterprise Data
Almost every company keeps critical data in different systems. For example, if you want to identify customers who are at risk of non-payment, you may want to integrate your Accounts Payable data with client demographics from your CRM system. Unfortunately, the challenge of combining data from Dynamics AX with data from other enterprise systems is daunting. Even standardizing on Microsoft CRM does not make it easy to blend data together. As a finance manager, don’t let yourself be limited because you can’t easily integrate data from all your corporate systems.
The Difficulty of Getting Analytics and Visualization
A few packaged dashboards and access to Microsoft Excel won’t serve the needs of most organizations today. Unfortunately, getting more advanced analysis from Dynamics requires a significant investment in expertise and time to use more complicated tools like Power Pivot and Performance Point. Pulling all these tools together into a functioning whole requires time and effort, not typically part of an organization’s core mission. There is a very successful set of Business Intelligence players who have effectively wrapped these capabilities and others to create an easy to use platform. If your team does not have the time or inclination to build their own, tools are available to get busy managers out of development and into analysis.
Even if all your reporting and analytics issues have been resolved, there remains numerous issues about how to share your insights across the company. Sharepoint is maturing as a collaboration resource, but what about collaborating in real-time with team members remotely as well as trading partners like suppliers? New cloud-based authentication and security services integrated into BI platforms make it easy to share information as well as to manage users without IT intervention. Not true with Dynamics AX.
Business managers should not have to spend much learning BI. However, there is much to learn. Good BI requires a roadmap to determine what data is needed, a plan for taking action on that insight and a solid understanding of the tools to get access to information. If a manager has to pull this learning together, odds are that he will be frustrated and ultimately adoption will be damaged. So, the tools need to be clear, intuitive, and not require extensive training. This is hard to do when BI is merely another capability within an ERP system.
Dynamics AX is a top-notch ERP system making great gains for mid-size companies – and increasingly gaining popularity among large enterprises. However, the challenge in accessing all your corporate data, analyzing that data easily and sharing out insights, hampers your overall investment. Finance leaders should not let the limitations of their tools dictate their strategic contribution to the company’s success.