Welcome to the fifth issue of the Acumatica Reports Newsletter. This email goes out on the last day of every month.
This Past Month
Things are heating up over at TimRodman.com. The big news from last month has allowed me to begin focusing on Excel reporting with Acumatica data. I’m very passionate about this and it’s fun to blog about it.
Of course there is also Power BI reporting and I will get to that after a few more Excel-related posts.
Whether it is Excel or Power BI, both tools are a very welcome option for Acumatica users. The more partners and customers I talk to, the more I hear the same thing about how limited and difficult to use the Report Designer is. This is no surprise. It took years for Microsoft to get SSRS to a reasonable level of maturity and Microsoft has a lot of resources at their disposal. I don’t know much about the guts of how a report writer program works, but my impression is that they take a long time to develop. For example, Excel has been in existence for 30 years and it is constantly being tweaked and enhanced. Connecting to Excel and Power BI with OData allows Acumatica to skip a few decades of development time.
However, there is one major downside to Excel. It can be difficult for a customer who just invested in a web-based product like Acumatica Cloud ERP to be convinced to use a desktop tool like Excel for reporting. They want something web-based for reporting. Keep an eye on the blog this week. I’m going to introduce a simple web-based Excel option. Satya Nadella is taking Microsoft in a web-based direction and I think that we can expect this web-based Excel option to only get stronger. BI360 is even headed in the same direction with their web-based reporting. This combines the best of both worlds. Report producers get to use Excel (a desktop application), while report consumers get to use their web browser, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc. The consumers probably won’t even realize that what they are using was made in Excel. If you find your company in this situation in the future, then know that you are experiencing the Producer/Consumer Dynamic.
My most popular post this month was on building a simple dashboard in Excel. There is a LOT more where this came from and I plan to do many more posts like it in the future.
Here are all the Excel-related posts from this month:
- Acumatica Reports – Report Designer (5%) and Excel / Power BI (95%)
- Creating an OData Connection by building a Generic Inquiry screen in Acumatica ERP
- Connecting to Acumatica data from Microsoft Excel
- Building a simple Dashboard in Excel using Acumatica ERP OData
Of course, I’m continuing my two-year journey through the out of the box reports. It’s boring, but it does give me some insight into the Data Access Class (DAC) relationships. Here are the out of the box report posts from this month:
- Acumatica Standard Reports: GL Recurring Transactions Detailed
- Acumatica Standard Reports: Open GL Documents
- Acumatica Standard Reports: GL Reversing Batches
- Acumatica Standard Reports: Cash Account Summary
This month 15 new people subscribed to the newsletter, bringing the total number of subscribers to 57.
You might have noticed that all my Excel-related posts this month have had a video at the bottom. I’m going to try to continue this because I think it’s a lot easier to show something in Excel in a video rather than try to write about it.
Reporting is all about communicating what you think the data is telling you. It’s weird, but the way that data is presented is even more important than the data itself. It’s all about visualization.
Speaking of Visualization
I went home to San Diego this month for my mom’s 60th birthday. On the flight home I sat next to a guy (named Guy) who does big data marketing analysis for a company that maintains a database of thousands of characteristics about millions of U.S. companies. He analyzes the data in a popular statistical software language called R. Then he presents it using Tableau. He really knows his stuff and is even going to be one of the presenters at the next Tableau user conference. We had a fascinating two hour conversation about data analysis and I plan to devote an entire blog post in the future to what we talked about.
I also did some research about a company called Domo this month. They are the complete opposite of what I am trying to do on this blog. I am trying to educate people how they can build their own reports. Domo wants to go into companies, wow the top-level executives, and get them to outsource all the work to Domo, taking all the thinking out of it. As much as I don’t like it, I have to admit that it’s actually a very smart strategy because the decision makers at companies don’t know much about how reports are made, especially where the data comes from. They just use reports and they like the fancy-looking dashboard reports that Domo shows them. It’s all about the visualization, all about the presentation. Domo probably gets this better than anyone else since they are run by a very savy marketing guy named Josh James. He really knows how to make things look slick and he has a proven track record with a product called Omniture .
One thing I have realized about all this exciting OData stuff is that you still need to build the OData connections.
In my experience, most people think about the data in their ERP system in terms of the names of the screens and the names of the fields on the screens.
It would be cool if you could have an OData connection for every screen in Acumatica, with all the fields having the same names as the fields on the screens.
So, I decided to see if there is an interest out there for this.
But building all those OData connections would take you a long time or cost you thousands of dollars if you were to have a consultant do it.
I would make all of these OData connections available in a package for $500.
This would be a lot of work though on my part so I would only do it if there is enough interest. I would only do it if there were at least 30 customers lined up.
If you are a partner, I would ask that you buy the package for each one of your customers.
Anyways, if this sounds interesting to you, please respond to this email and let me know. Like I said, if there are 30 willing customers out there, I would do it.
Until Next Month…
Thanks for reading. And look for another issue from me on Tuesday, June 30th.