In this post (part 1 of 2), I’d like to cover why I think BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 are important for Acumatica. Next week, I’d like to give my opinion on which one I personally think is better and 5 reasons why.
First, some background
It’s nice to now have two options competing against each other. This is good for Acumatica customers. Although both products support Sage, Microsoft, and other ERP products, I’m pretty sure that most of BizNet’s current customers are with Sage while most of Solver’s current customers are with Microsoft Dynamics. Cloud ERP opens up a whole new “turf” and it will be interesting to see who can become the dominant Excel reporting solution for Cloud ERP products.
Ultimately, I’m hoping to see Acumatica introduce support for OData in the next version (6.0?) which would give customers a third Excel reporting option. This would allow Acumatica users to tap into Power Pivot, the free add-in from Microsoft that has spawned a data revolution and written stories like this one:
But even once we get OData in Acumatica, there will still be a definite place for BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 for reasons that I won’t go into now.
Why Microsoft Excel for reporting in Acumatica?
It’s estimated that there are over half a billion Excel users worldwide. That’s more Excel users than the population of the United States and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Excel is the most widely used business software on the planet (with the exception of email of course).
Excel gives you the ability to combine data from multiple sources in a way that’s flexible and it allows you to make corrections before bringing the report to a meeting. Canned reports from an ERP system are great, but many times you need to make some adjustments to the way the information is presented or add in some data that doesn’t reside in the ERP system. And oftentimes you need to do this ASAP because your boss is yelling at you to get it done NOW, so you don’t have time to work with IT to make changes to a canned report.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to use Excel for all reports. There is still a place for canned system reports.
But I think that Excel is especially good at analytical reporting. And what’s the point of having an ERP system if no one is analyzing the data in it? Isn’t analyzing data the whole point of capturing data in the first place? Interestingly, the people qualified to do that analysis are the people in your organization who know the business, not the ones in IT who know the software. Excel is a very powerful tool in the hands of business people who are Excel power users. And many people rely on the work of Excel power users as illustrated by the Producer/Consumer Dynamic (click here).
Why BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 for reporting in Acumatica?
In many organizations, there are “Excel Jockeys” who manually compile reports in Excel. The problem with this is that they have to go through a long process every time someone wants numbers that are up-to-date. This is time-consuming and error-prone. This is also the kind of situation that leads to “spreadsheet nightmare” and gives Excel a bad name.
Of course, if you love compiling data manually, you probably don’t even need Acumatica. You can just use Quickbooks and spreadsheets. But, as your organization grows and the data gets more complex, it takes longer and longer to compile those reports. That means your employees are working longer hours, reports take longer to produce, and reporting errors become increasingly likely. And you are making critical business decisions based on those reports!
The key to avoiding “spreadsheet nightmare” is to pipe your data directly into Excel. This is where BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 come in. They allow you to directly connect Acumatica to Microsoft Excel so you can design a report based on Acumatica data using the familiar tool of Excel. But the data is now refreshable at the click of a button! Then, as your organization grows, the reports don’t take longer to compile. It’s still just a click of a button without the possibility of errors introduced through the manual compiling of data. Also, both BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 add in some additional features that aren’t available in Excel.
Acumatica Excel Reporting – BizNet BizInsight or Solver BI360 – Which one should I choose?
Of course, you should contact both companies to see demos of both BizNet BizInsight and Solver BI360 so you can compare the products yourself.
But I already went through this comparison process for the company I work for and I thought I’d share my experience. We use Sage 500 ERP, not Acumatica, but the BizInsight and BI360 products work exactly the same regardless of where the ERP data is coming from.
A colleague and I sat through demonstrations of both products and asked lots of questions. In the end, one of the products seemed a lot stronger to us.
Next week (in part 2 of 2), I’ll cover which product we chose and 5 reasons why (click here).