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Mary Miller-Friedman

Binder labeled budget.

5 BI Budgeting best practices for 2020

By | BI | No Comments

Binder labeled budget.

Planning a new budget may seem daunting, but implementing the right strategies can reduce the stress of preparing for the new year. No matter the industry, your budget should support business intelligence (BI) goals.

The right BI tools can simplify the budgeting process. These applications contain a range of features to help you plan strategically. Since 2020 is right around the corner, we offer these five budgeting BI best practices.

1. Use drivers

Instead of orienting your budget process around accounts, adapt it to key drivers of your business. These include:

  • Sales units
  • Number of customers
  • FTEs
  • Anticipated percent change in cost of raw materials

You can then use logic-based formulas in your budget models to apply those drivers against historical data. The result will be a detailed, GL account-based budget.

In 2018, Forbes reported a link between the use of BI apps and success. A report on the state of business intelligence reported that fewer than 15% of respondent companies employ a chief data officer. The available technologies are responsible for a customer experience revolution, one that is led by driver-based budgeting.

Driver-based budgeting lets your data tell the story. This gives you better insights into how various parts of your business are related, so you can maximize the power of your budget.

2. Update frequently

The purpose of a budget is to establish financial targets for a specified period, typically one year. However, it should be updated frequently to reflect changes in key drivers and ensure it remains a useful business management tool as you move forward.

  • Make updating decisions based on the current results.
  • Use your projections to align the budget with existing plans.
  • Implement rolling forecasts so you can plan each quarter rather than the entire year at once.

Cloud business intelligence tools can help you manage updates by providing readily accessible solutions. According to a 2019 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study, 48% of companies report cloud BI as critical or very important to operations.

3. Accelerate the budget processGroup of colleagues looking at a laptop screen together.

If your budget process is lengthy, any assumptions you started with may be out of date when the budget is issued. You’ll also be less likely to perform frequent updates if the task is too onerous.

Speeding up the process shortens the entire budgeting cycle. One challenge for business owners today is keeping up with constantly changing environments. Pay attention to internal and external factors to ensure you make dynamic decisions.

Your budgeting process should be flexible and responsive to industry changes. This requires a top-down strategy to align allocations with figures based on projected company direction.

4. Don’t budget in greater detail than you need

Don’t assume that more details will mean greater accuracy. The key is identifying which areas need detail and which don’t.

5. Consider using “what-if” scenarios

“What-if” models allow the consideration of ideas across the spectrum. Comparing best-case to worst-case situations helps establish a balance in preparation for everything in between.

Finding the right ERP partner is essential for achieving your 2020 BI budgeting goals. Let NexTec assist you in implementing these BI best practices to ensure greater success. Get our short guide to BI and what it can do for your business.

Most revealing customer KPIs

By | BI, Dashboards and KPIs | No Comments

Every organization wants to create amazing customer experiences. Forrester reports; in fact, that 72% of businesses say improving customer experience (CX) is a top priority.

Measuring CX helps businesses determine what works and doesn’t work for customers. They can then use that information to inform initiatives to enhance CX.

An exceptional customer experience is good for business; it helps to increase sales and revenue, improve customer engagement and reduce customer churn.

Don’t track the wrong KPIs

But when assessing the effectiveness of customer relationships, too many organizations track the wrong KPIs (key performance indicators); and as a result, base crucial CX and marketing decision on measurements that are not relevant to the business. Ultimately, these companies end up wasting time planning, implementing, analyzing and fine-tuning strategies that fail to drive actionable results.

How to select the best KPIs for your firm

The first step to selecting the right KPIs is understanding your company’s unique differentiators. This is a two-pronged process that involves:

  1. Evaluating successes by taking inventory of your most successful projects and identifying the factors that contributed to their success.
  2. Examining mistakes by looking at failed projects and asking questions to understand why they failed so you can determine what to do differently next time.

From this process, create KPIs that enable you to build on and repeat successes while avoiding activities that led to failure.

Top KPIs to measure

What KPIs should you be tracking to learn the truth about your relationships with customers? Here are four:

  1. Customer acquisition rate: To determine customer acquisition rates, measure how your sales team performs month over month. If patterns show a decline, figure out why so you can reverse it. For example, perhaps your salespeople aren’t receiving enough leads — a sign that maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your marketing strategies.
  2. New and returning customers: By breaking down the number of active customers into new and returning, you can see the mix of customer acquisition versus retention in your business. Determine if you’re doing a good job retaining previous customers and keeping them coming back and if you’re acquiring new customers. You should be balancing your business between the two.
  3. Cost of direct sales: With this measure, you can determine how much value your salespeople are bringing to your company. For example, if they’re selling online services, 15 percent is acceptable and 8 percent to 10 percent is ideal. Anything above that means their incomes are too high or quotas too low.
  4. Transactions per customer/value per transaction: If you break down value into transactions, you can see how often customers interact with your company and the value of those transactions in terms of revenue. This will help you measure increases and decreases in the frequency and value of transactions.

NexTec Group delivers business intelligence software solutions that help organizations succeed. NexTec Group is dedicated to your success, and our team of experts will work with your organization to analyze workforce efficiency and monitor key performance indicators to optimize your profitability. Contact us to get started.


5 top trends shaping business intelligence

5 top trends shaping the BI future

By | BI | No Comments

Flashback to just a few years ago and data-driven decision making was a new trend. Companies large and small wanted to know how to make better business decisions. From that, the trend of business intelligence (BI) was born.

5 top trends shaping business intelligenceThe goal of business is productivity and profits. Toward that end, more organizations have integrated technologies and evolved into digital enterprises. They relied more on IT departments to mine data, then used those reports to inform business strategies, operations and investments. With the advent of big data, concerns rose over data quality and governance.

Organizations are relying more on verifiable data to support business governance decisions, and we now see a growing adoption of BI tools that allow technology to empower business managers to analyze data on their own.

BI is transforming how organizations drive communication, collaboration and customer service operations.

Here is a look at the top trends that will shape BI applications in the New Year and beyond.

  1. Soaring in the cloud: As concerns about cloud security continue to decline, more businesses will move BI away from in-house infrastructures and onto more scalable, cost-effective cloud platforms to reduce overhead and speed implementation cycles.
  2. Digitize to modernize: Today’s modern customers demand a personalized experience that delivers reliable, around-the-clock, real-time solutions. Providing this type of user experience requires a radical overhaul of business processes driven by digitalization. But digitalization is not only about the customer experience. More organizations will convert traditional offline processes to digital forms to save money and allow for real-time data monitoring and reporting.
  3. Decentralizing data with self-service: As software applications become more user-friendly, tools are moving out of IT and into the hands of business users. Self-service is a growing trend because it allows those who aren’t from the analytics and data-mining world to access statistical data, create their own queries and determine conclusions. Enabling users to perform traditional IT tasks frees up the IT team for other business objectives without compromising the ability to have data filtered and grouped.
  4. Taking the tech out of knowledge: Data discovery/visualization is more of a user process than a tool. It is the process by which the user looks for patterns and anomalies. By processing information visually rather than reading or interpreting graphics, users visually navigate and digest the information.
  5. Predicting the future: Predictive analytics helps users make sense of data relationships to identify potential opportunities to increase customer value with probabilities based on advanced analytics. Whether it’s developing forecasts, crafting ideas to improve processes or creating new products and services, BI plays a valuable part in shaping a vision for the future and making more strategic business decisions.

As technology continues to transform business processes, actionable business intelligence will become even more critical to driving successful business operations. NexTec Group can help you implement the right technology solutions to improve operational efficiency, decision-making, productivity and profitability. Contact us to learn which business intelligence software solutions are right for your business.

Manufacturing and distribution financial consolidations using Sage X3

By | Distribution / Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Sage X3, Service | No Comments

Sage X3 Executive Dashboard

There’s a population of Sage X3 customers who are charged with aggregating their parent organization’s data from one or more manufacturing or distribution subsidiary entities.  Consolidating financial information from multiple subsidiaries, with more than one currency, can be challenging if you don’t have one of today’s financial consolidation tools to upgrade Sage X3 and any other ERP tool your subsidiary entities might utilize.  Data is steadily growing in amount and importance to organizational decision-making, which is why executive teams are shopping for the best solutions to empower their business end users to consolidate data into a singular set of financial statements.  In this article, NexTec Group will lay out your technology options for modern, dynamic, and business user-friendly financial consolidations using Sage X3.  If your manufacturing or distribution company is growing, a powerful reporting and consolidation tool can streamline your Sage X3 deployment, providing more flexibility and power in your reporting processes.

Financial consolidations combine subsidiary transactional GL data into one set of financial statements for a parent company.  These reports are usually comprised of Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow reports, including all of the subsidiary data that explains the overall health of the parent organization.  Consolidations sometimes require currency conversion for multiple monies, transactional eliminations between subsidiaries, and any other adjustments that have to be manually performed without modern functionality.  There are plenty of reasons why a manufacturing or distribution organization might be seeking today’s best software, but let’s focus on two of the primary motivators.

The two main reasons your finance department might be looking for an automated consolidation solution are both related to product age.  Some are hopeful that they can get away from older tools that are too simple to meet today’s business demands, like manual Excel spreadsheets.  Others want to get rid of more mature software because of how complex they are for business end user management, like Cognos or Hyperion.

Regardless of industry, Sage X3 users that are responsible for consolidating multi-national companies usually perform a regular set of tasks.  Some have to routinely convert currencies and manually adjust month-end consolidations for national and international standards, like the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles adjustments (GAAP), otherwise known as IFRS to GAAP.  NexTec Group has worked with those who require deeper analytics with sub-ledger information and/or need a solution that is part of a complete suite of Business Intelligence (BI) tools, fully integrated with applications for ad-hoc reportingdashboardsbudgeting, and data storage.  Next: how to select the best tool for your manufacturing or distribution organization.

To continue learning more about manufacturing and distribution financial consolidations with Sage X3, read the rest of this article here.

How to decrease the amount of reporting tools in your company

By | BI, ERP | No Comments

How many of us have more than a handful of reporting solutions across our business systems? I know it’s shocking, but most companies do use that many reporting tools across their ERP system and other databases.

There are multiple problems with using numerous reporting tools. For instance:

  • It gets pricey to maintain and purchase each reporting tool.
  • It’s complex to maintain different user security models and related user management
  • It’s hard to learn all features in every reporting tool
  • It gets pricey to maintain and purchase each reporting tool
  • Finally, it is almost impossible to consolidate the information from the different report writers into one place, so usually, users resort to manually exporting to- and formatting reports in Microsoft Excel.

This makes the reports prone to error and costly, as it takes a large amount of time to manually compile everything, which also results in delays in delivery of the information. Report writers that offer Excel add-ins provide Excel users a jump start on learning the reporting tool as most business users already have a lot of spreadsheet skills. Excel add-in tools also avoid the problems associated with manually exporting data to Excel for formatting

A common solution is to invest in one flexible report writer that can be used to generate statistical and operational reports and financial statements, and offers a DW where your data and information from different sources are compiled in a single database with the single reporter writer accessing all the information through the DW, and can distribute e-mails to end users or provide access through a web browser for end users, so they can use reports to answer any questions they may have without asking other people to run reports for them.

You can consolidate your report writers and achieve additional BI capabilities by aiming for a single BI solution that covers financial and operational reporting, data warehousing, budgeting and forecasting, and dashboards/analysis. This is also known as a BI suite. A tip to consider is to make sure the BI suite eliminates or reduces the need to maintain many report writers.

To continue learning more about reducing the number of reporting tools, read this article by Solver or contact us here at NexTec.

KPIs and process streamlining equal success

By | BI | No Comments
Key Performance Indicators help companies see the progress made toward goals.

Key Performance Indicators help companies see the progress made toward goals.

Two of the most critical actions any company can take are to streamline processes and to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure success. By streamlining, companies need fewer resources and can reallocate freed resources to save time and become more efficient. KPIs are essential for determining whether goals are met and profits are made.

Each factor is important independently. But when used together, KPIs and process streamlining will help companies maximize operations and reach their goals.

Let’s take a closer look at how the right KPI mix and streamlining your processes will bring you success.

Why KPIs matter

Some people interchange KPIs with Critical Success Factors (CSFs). They are related, but there is a clear difference.

CSFs are the reasons for your achievement while KPIs are the measures of your actions towards that achievement. Another way of thinking about the difference between the two is that CSFs are the answers to the question, “What do we need to do to achieve success?” while KPIs answer the question “What measures indicate whether we are moving towards success?” KPIs will let you hone in on the core data and reveal if your CSFs are on track.

With so much data available today, it’s important to have a keen understanding of the key data points that are truly indicate progress. Identifying the right KPIs will help you learn which measures are simple, aligned with company goals, relevant, time-limited, achievable and visible to the right audience (which may include employees, managers, stockholders, board members, investors, customers, and suppliers).

KPIs are far more effective when you use them to assess and streamline your internal processes.

KPIs are far more effective when you use them to assess and streamline your internal processes.

Why process streamlining is important

People are resourceful and creative. In the absence of resources (time, money, staff, technology), we find ways to get the work done. In every organization, large or small, processes have evolved over time, shaped by the people who have done the work.

Yet for a business to thrive, it’s important to continually evaluate and reevaluate internal processes in order to gain efficiencies and reduce costs. That is because processes are usually modified over time and inefficiency can result. By evaluating your process, you might find that data is being entered into systems multiple times or paper reports are being printed, filed and forgotten.

Whether it’s a lack of technology, employee skill-level, cost-cutting or an unwillingness to change, processes can run amok. By taking a close, impartial look at processes on a regular basis – and streamlining them – you can achieve significant savings in time and resources.

Tying KPIs and process streamlining together

You can use KPIs to encourage and drive process streamlining. How? By identifying the KPIs that will help you measure the process you are assessing. Are the KPIs repeatable and reproducible? Is there enough historical data to make process decisions? Can the data be gathered in a timely manner?

If the answer to those questions is yes, then you can use those KPIs measure your processes and determine what, if any, changes you need to make. KPIs also serve as an anchor for the process changes, ensuring that changes are done in order to meet your CSFs.

At NexTec, we help companies identify the right KPIs, streamline processes, save resources and achieve success. Whether it’s a Business Intelligence tool, ERP software solution, ERP automation, business software automation or other integrated software solutions, NexTec has extensive insights into various vendors and products, providing you with the solution that best meets your needs. Download our brochure our use the contact form on the right to learn more.

Top business intelligence trends to plan for in 2017

By | BI | No Comments
Business Intelligence is trendy.

Business Intelligence is trendy.
In 2017, you can design your own look with self-service BI.

Business intelligence (BI) and data management trends constantly change. According to the BARC Trend Monitor 2017 report, there are notable topics and growth areas to pay special heed heading into the new year. The report is a compilation of data from roughly 2,800 BI consultants and vendors. Their revelations can be summarized into a total of 21 BI marketing trends.

The 15 BI trends at a glance from BARC

  1. Self-Service BI – provisioning of self-service capabilities is on the rise, enabling businesses to design their own reports, interfaces, queries, and dashboards.
  2. Master Data/Data Quality Management – master/quality data essentially comes down to accurate data. Through aggregation and analyses, data can be filtered to yield quality information.
  3. Analytical Databases – specialized databases need to be optimized for analytics. Databases like in-memory and text analysis provide better scalability and query performance.
  4. Data Governance – The focus on data analytics and operational systems is the driving factor for implementing a data strategy that may include policy, frameworks, and data capital monitoring.
  5. Agile BI Development – Agile BI refers to the quick setup, modification, and change of reports, visualizations, dashboards, etc.
  6. Data Integration (DI) – lack of resources and/or over-reliance on legacy systems stands in the way of agile delivery. Self-service DI provides a fast and reliable framework for explorative data analysis.
  7. Integrated Platforms for BI and Performance Management (PM) – The seamless integration of BI and PM is essential for optimal planning. Integration entails a platform capable of functions like reporting, advanced analysis, and dashboarding.
  8. Mobile BI – BI tools should offer mobile support with offline capabilities. Mobile BI is steadily growing. 23% of businesses in 2016 indicated mobile use in their workforce, according to the BARC report.
  9. Data Warehouse Modernization – newer hardware options like in-memory an off-the-shelf storage systems store and process data far more efficiently than traditional data warehouses.
  10. Real-Time Analytics – businesses need data from transactional systems to be available immediately to help support their day-to-day operations and decision making.
  11. Collaboration – Forum threads, social media comments, and chats are all forms of collaboration. Data storytelling is another and more recent collaboration format.
  12. Data Storytelling – Data in itself doesn’t mean much of anything until it’s interpreted. New BI and analytic tools filter data to determine what the data conveys and how it can be used to influence business decisions.
  13. Spatial/Location Intelligence – data may be geo-specific. Location-intelligent software provides geo-targeted data using specialized geo data warehouses or simple pins of longitude and latitude.
  14. Visual Design Standards – Data must be presented in a way that can be understood. This is done through visual language for establishing interpretable reports, dashboards, and presentation.
  15. Cloud BI – Many BI vendors nowadays provide some form of cloud-based BI solution. This reduces the strain of in-house IT teams; it’s also competitively priced with hybrid options available.

Does your business need BI?

Business intelligence is critical in this age of Big Data for making important decisions in real-time as well as examining trends over time. The move to digitalize operations means that our data stores are increasing exponentially and BI is more critical in 2017 than ever. Your business’ ability to access and glean intelligence from your data in an expedient manner is crucial to your success.

NexTec Group believes that an informed decision is a smart one and helping organizations implement business intelligence solutions that will allow them to succeed is our specialty. We help companies roll out business intelligence software solutions that allow for enhanced organizational insight, better control, and detailed reporting. With the right business decision-making tools, your management team will be able to make informed decisions based on complete visibility, eliminating waste and increasing overall profitability.

Contact us to learn more.

You're getting sleepy...

5 top practices for excellence in Business Intelligence

By | BI | No Comments
Looking into the BI crystal ball

Business intelligence is the crystal ball that will guide your business toward growth.

Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics remain the top priority for businesses, according to TechTarget’s 2016 IT Priorities Survey. In fact, the desire to improve BI and data warehousing is so prolific, it even beat big data analytics as the primary goal of IT departments which makes it of preeminent importance to implement BI best practices. Here are the top five BI best practices that will ensure you gain the most from your BI functions.

1. Establish a center of excellence within your organization.

Central to the success of BI deployment is consistency, adoption rates, and collaboration across the organization. To achieve these aims, you need to establish clear, enterprise-wide objectives and procedures. This can be accomplished through the implementation of a company-wide center of excellence, which will help to manage project costs and resource allocation while ensuring consistency across all departments.

2. Focus on data security.

According to Scott Golden, co-founder and vice president of services at Decision First Technologies, security plays a pivotal role in implementing successful BI systems. Golden believes that BI needs to rely on a cloud-based platform in order to be successfully adopted by all employees and provide the same user experience on a range of devices. To employ the cloud securely, Golden says the organization must first secure the infrastructure by implementing a company-wide firewall, while also providing controls that offer layered access to each employee depending on need.

3. Create a path for growth.

While many companies are implementing BI functions, fewer are gaining the advanced data exploration needed to drive their company forward. When implementing BI functions, you need to clearly lay out a plan for growth that will push employees to adopt more complex analysis methodologies as time progresses. In the beginning phases of deployment, analysts will likely be confined to a narrower range of tasks and tools, but this should be progressively built upon as they gain more experience and expertise in their roles.

4. Improve organizational collaboration.

One of the goals of BI functions is to increase customer loyalty and improve the efficiency and results of a marketing campaign. To do so, you need a complete view of the company, rather than isolated glimpses of various departments. Unfortunately, businesses often notice data becoming siloed within separate departments. To gain a full view of the company, you need to place emphasis on data integration across all departments by implementing an enterprise-wide platform.

This is your BI brain...

BI is the brain of a business, and data integration is key to uniting all aspects of that brain.

5. Improve success by employing appropriate oversight of technologies.

One of the key ways to track the success of new BI systems is implementing oversight policies to ensure each level of the organization is meeting appropriate milestones, adhering to all data security measures, and abiding by all policy requirements.

The experts all agree that the key to achieving excellence in BI functions is by maintaining uniformity across the organization and implementing strict enterprise-wide procedures. This can be accomplished much more efficiently with the right software tools. With BI software, you’ll have a platform that will promote data integration and quality while providing an established technology to maintain consistency across your organization. Learn more about the right BI software for your company by downloading the NexTec Corporate Overview Brochure.

A CPM shake out is coming

By | BI, Cloud, News, Prophix | No Comments

Why niche vendors are driving the future of finance

cpmThe days of the monolithic CPM vendors are numbered according to an article on how the CPM landscape is changing, written by finance industry expert Gary Simon – CEO of FSN & Leader of the Modern Finance Forum for CFOs following an interview with Prophix CEO, Paul Barber. Why? Because users are looking for solutions that provide the agile and functional capability that they require, something large corporate packages cannot always offer. Instead, they are turning to nimble, niche vendors over larger solution providers who are not able to be flexible enough to keep up with what people want to do.

This is particularly the case in the mid-market where specialist vendors that offer the functionality and ease-of-use the mid-market demands. The article goes on to highlight how customers should be able to evolve with their CPM solution; perhaps initially choosing CPM for budgeting needs, for example, but then growing into utilizing the full spectrum of capabilities to truly automate finance operations and enable more effective decision-making.

Although cloud has been a hot topic in the software market, the article discusses why the future for CPM lies in a hybrid cloud approach where, for certain functions/job roles, cloud-based access is advantageous but for others, on-premise is the best approach with companies moving smoothly between the two environments.

Read the full article from Gary Simon and discover the trends and shifts about to shake out the CPM industry.