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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC) and Power BI are two cloud solutions that are rapidly gaining traction. Although these solutions can be used independently, they are frequently used as part of a platform.
Senior executives are driving their accounting teams to migrate to a modern cloud ERP system like D365 BC, while also hoping and expecting world-class analysis from their new ERP. As a result, evaluation teams must not only review core ERP functionality to ensure that their current and future needs are met, but they must also consider which dashboards, reporting, and planning tools to use.
For Dynamics 365 ERP customers, Power BI is the natural data visualisation dashboard of choice. It is available as an embedded option within D365 BC, as well as a stand-alone web service that includes all kinds of other data with a full licence. However, as with any flexible dashboard software, developing Power BI report models with multiple dashboards and then tailoring them to your business dimensions, including your chart of accounts, can be complex, time-consuming, and costly.
This blog will cover how to quickly deploy Power BI dashboards for Dynamics 365 Business Central data, as well as a few things to consider to ensure that your executive’s expectations are met or exceeded when it comes to providing them with:
- Dashboards for Revenue
- Expense Management Dashboards
- Dashboards for Variance
- Dashboards with Exceptions
- Dashboards for Trends
- Dashboards for Balance Sheets
- Dashboards with KPIs
- Dashboard Comparisons
Why Use Stand-alone Power BI Dashboards to Compliment the Native Tools in Dynamics 365?
The embedded Power BI dashboards in D365 BC provide a few simple, pre-built templates, but they lack the full flexibility that a finance team needs when creating highly professional, automated graphical dashboards, similar to almost any other cloud ERP system’s native or embedded dashboard options.
Here’s a collection of over a hundred dashboard examples to give you a sense of the breadth and depth of capabilities that many professional reporting tools can provide to help you improve and democratise analysis for better, faster business decisions. You can get more ideas by looking at these interactive Power BI dashboards.
Also see How to embed PowerBI.com reports in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations
Because the software is already owned, users already know how to use it, and the interface is easy and flexible to build while maintaining the underlying formulas, many D365 BC customers support a user’s graphical analysis needs through Excel. However, demand for cloud-based, best-of-breed dashboard tools like Power BI, which provide a dynamic and secure user experience with rich, interactive charting and drill-down, as well as real-time and self-service reporting and analysis, is rapidly growing.
How to Pick the Right Dashboard Solution for Dynamics 365 Business Central
There’s a lot that can be said about the best and most cost-effective way to deploy Power BI. Most companies discover that providing their business and finance users with a rich and long-lasting dashboard experience necessitates more than just a Power BI licence. These are the other components:
- Pre-built financial dashboard templates that work right out of the box and can be changed or copied to meet specific custom requirements
- Financial reporting and planning that works well with the graphical dashboards in Power BI. More information about what to look for in professional reporting and planning can be found here.
- A data warehouse or staging database to organise key D365 BC data and dimensions, with the option to include non-ERP data, resulting in a clean data model for Power BI More information on pre-built financial data warehouses can be found here.
We won’t go into great detail about dashboard software evaluation in this blog, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, this blog highlights key features that many people look for in a dashboard, and this interactive tool allows you to compare and score vendors quickly. It also comes with a ROI calculator for comparing the cost/benefit of different tools to your current solution.
In short, in the 2020s, progressive executive and finance teams want dashboard solutions that are flexible, tightly integrated with financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting functionality, and provide quick time-to-value through template-based deployment.
What Is Considered a Quick Start with a Power BI Dashboard Solution?
The majority of D365 BC customers want cloud-based connected apps, including dashboards. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions: how difficult is it to go beyond the embedded Power BI version that comes with D365BC and integrate the full-fledged Power BI solution with the ERP? How much money and effort does it take to set up and maintain key financial dashboards?
Weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services are the typical responses. The end result is sometimes static, or the ability to maintain models is complicated and difficult. As a result, the outcomes are disappointing. Microsoft software partners, such as Solver, who work closely with the Dynamics 365 Business Central solution and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations and out-of-the-box dashboards to address these issues.
A note about tools that offer integrations to D365 BC:
While almost all dashboard vendors claim to offer integration with popular ERPs such as D365 BC, the skill and effort required to get such integrations ready and your financial data loaded into the reporting tool can vary significantly.
In general, there are three types of integrations, each requiring a different level of effort to get started:
- Usually, this is how you get there: Generic integration tools that take a lot of time and effort to set up.
- Works, but there are often drawbacks: However, it does not include an app to pre-map popular fields, nor does it automatically configure dimensions and views in D365 BC to “light them up” for its API.
- Connectors specifically built for D365 BC that include an app or script(s) that properly and automatically configure dimensions and views in D365 BC and expose them to its API are the quickest and easiest. As a result, Power BI can easily consume a “clean” data model. An example of this type of integration can be found here.
What Is a Cloud Dashboard Marketplace and Why Is It Important to Your Business?
While D365 BC comes with a set of basic embedded Power BI dashboards, most businesses end up using the full Power BI licence to create their own graphical reports. Providing modern and flexible functionality that quickly delivers the dashboards your managers and executives require, on the other hand, is frequently a pipe dream. There is at least one issue: someone must design all of the dashboards and learn the underlying formula language (known as “DAX”). This can seem painful (both in terms of time and money), especially if your leaders are eager to get their dashboards as soon as possible and without incurring a large consulting bill.
However, cloud business solutions are increasingly offering pre-built financial dashboards that can be downloaded and used right away from each vendor’s marketplace. Installing and refreshing the report with your own data usually only takes a few clicks. The procedure is similar to that of downloading apps to your iPhone or Samsung phone. Users can download over 50 pre-built financial dashboards that plug right into your Power BI web-service, as well as Profit & Loss Reports, Balance Sheets, and other financial statements and planning input templates, from Solver’s Marketplace.
In other words, with true marketplace templates, you should be able to provide professional dashboards and reports to your managers the same day you install the reporting tool–and without any upfront formula design or Power BI model creation! That was a lightning-quick deployment!
The 2020s hold a lot of promise for new and existing Dynamics 365 Business Central customers. Microsoft’s ERP system is constantly being improved and updated, and a rapidly expanding Marketplace of third-party apps adds to the benefits of D365 BC. By putting the right information in front of your managers and executives when and where they need it, you can significantly improve your processes, save time, and drive faster and better decisions.