Microsoft Power BI and Solver BI360: A Dynamic Duo

Trying to decide what business intelligence, dashboarding and reporting tool is best for your business? Concerned that FRx or Management Reporter are not meeting your needs, or won’t in the future? Need to incorporate data from multiple, disparate systems to properly do your reporting? Read on to see how Solver’s BI360 and Microsoft’s Power BI stack up.

BI360 is an Excel add-in that integrates with SQL Server to enhance your forecasting, budgeting, reporting, consolidating and data warehousing activities.
For those that are more familiar with the Microsoft out-of-box reporting tools, BI360 does everything that FRx and MR do for Financial Statements, plus:

  • Use of all fields (such as Account Category) in the GL in reports
  • Dynamic rows/columns (e.g. an account range can produce many rows in a P&L) = faster report design and less maintenance
  • Much better formatting (because it is Excel-based)
  • Pre-configured and optimized for Financial Reporting and Budgeting

But wait! There’s more…

  • Web, mobile and Excel interface for end users
  • Ad-hoc reporting
  • Report on sub-ledgers
  • Cell-level control (FRx/MR requires either a row or a column to “win”)

Power BI with Excel Financial Reporting

BI360: Turbo-charged Excel

BI360 consists of several different modules:

BI360 Planning – The BI360 Planning module is an Excel-based data entry tool with a pre-configured SQL Server database. Planning can be used to automate budgeting and forecasting as well as other business processes that require data entry and a database. Think of BI360 Planning as an automated way to save any data from Excel into a structured SQL database.

BI 360 Reporting – BI360 Reporting is an excel-based report writer that can connect directly to your Dynamics ERP or CRM system. It is an easy-to-use report writer that provides finance professionals with powerful financial and operational reporting capabilities in a variety of layouts and presentation formats. Users can drag and drop to create complete financial statements and operational reports without having to learn proprietary report writers or complex formulas. The result is professional looking reports presented in Excel, web and mobile devices.

BI 360 Dashboard – The BI360 Dashboard module is used for dashboarding and visualization of data. It also has the capability to calculate and store metrics and KPI’s which is often done in Excel.

BI360 Data Warehouse – The BI360 Data Warehouse is a self-configuring data warehouse solution. It automatically creates a SQL Server database optimized for making reporting easier; and, can be extended to incorporate data from other sources.

The Power of Power BI

Are you living in spreadsheets that leave you feeling inundated with information that doesn’t matter to you? Do you or someone on your team struggle with pulling together data from multiple sources, messaging it and taking days (or longer) to generate reports? If you’re nodding in agreement, then Microsoft Power BI might be an option for you. Power BI is a data visualization and dashboard reporting tool that helps you stay up to date with information that matters most to you.

Power BI is Microsoft’s newest entry into the Business Intelligence space. Released in July 2015, it has rapidly been updated to be easily competitive with a few of the more well-known names in BI, like Tableau, QlikView, MicroStrategy and others. It’s a very powerful analysis and dashboard solution, and it comes with pre-built connectors to dozens of Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications.

Whether your data is coming from a collection of cloud-based or on-premises data sources or a simple Excel spreadsheet, Power BI lets you connect easily to those data sources, and visualize, share and collaborate on actionable information. With Power BI, dashboards will help you understand trends, explore your data, and connect to multiple datasets to bring all relevant information together in one place.

Power BI Executive Dashboard - Financial Metrics

Preparing your data to be analyzed can be a time-consuming process. Power BI Desktop has data shaping and modeling capabilities that can transform and clean data, giving back hours of your day. This element of Power BI is a complete solution for building analytics because the Desktop has all functionalities to quickly connect, visualize and share reports that need to be in the hands of decision makers whenever and wherever.

To help make the leap to Power BI easier, your users can begin creating dashboards using Excel. The Power X add-ins (Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View) are the predecessors to Power BI Desktop. In fact, anything you build in Excel, with the Power x add-ins, can be converted into Power BI Desktop with just one click – because they use the same engines and languages! One more click to Publish to and your users can simply connect to their dashboards in any browser, or on any device.

It’s not always a question of BI360 or Power BI. In fact, many of our customers use Power BI for dashboards and visualizations, which complement or incorporates your financial reporting, planning and budgeting data from BI360.

BI360 is focused on budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting and consolidations, and typically appeals to the office of finance whereas; Power BI is focused on anyone in your company that needs to do analysis, create reports and access dashboards. And great news, Power BI has a pre-built connector so that you can use BI360 in your Power BI dashboards.

Watch Part 6 of our Microsoft Dynamics Deep Dive Series: Power BI and Solver BI360 – Discover a Dynamic Duo to see this powerful pair of  in action.


By | 2017-10-20T19:35:56+00:00 May 23rd, 2017|Business Intelligence (BI)|0 Comments
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Contributor: AKA Enterprise Solutions

AKA is comprised of professionals with deep experience in business, technology, and their respective industries. Our team members regularly share their knowledge and expertise through blog articles. We hope you find them helpful, and we welcome your comments.

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