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Financial Reporting and Accounting Blog

Valid Data = Right Time Frame + Right Comparison

Adam Jacobson December 18,2015

When I worked for my college newspaper, I couldn’t read the New York Times without thinking about font and layout. As a business intelligence consultant, I can’t read a promotional email without questioning its calculations.

Today, I received a promotional email from Mint. I use Mint to track our personal finances. The application is free to set up, so the company makes its money by getting members to buy from sponsors.

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Tags: Business Intelligence Consultants

Building an SSRS Trial Balance for Dynamics GP

Adam Jacobson December 16,2015

In this post, I'll show you how to create a view in SSRS that allows Dynamics GP users to create a trial balance for any time period (or multiple periods) and get the ending balance for that period(s).

I was motivated to write this post after seeing a question on the GPUG forum about it. The question was referred to Victoria Yudin, a GP SQL guru, and she has a nice stored procedure to get a 12-month trial balance for the same year.

Also, I’ve been developing some generic design patterns for financial reporting in SSRS and as part of this project we've been asked to create trial balances for the last 12-month period—so the topic has been on my mind.

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Tags: SSRS Dynamics GP

Five Things to Get Your Finance Team for the Holidays

Adam Jacobson December 11,2015

In my previous post, I provided a list of gifts that Finance should give their application developers for the holidays. But, giving should be mutual. So now, as promised, a holiday gift list for Finance from application developers:

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Tags: Business Intelligence

Six Things to Get Your Development Team for the Holidays

Adam Jacobson December 9,2015

In a multi-generational, multi-cultural office, secret Santa gets awkward pretty quickly. And as for those guys with the drunken, “I love you man!” at the office holiday party, the less said the better. But still, it’s the holidays. So it’s important to foster a spirit of generosity as well as a resolve to do better in the coming year.

So to facilitate the crossing of the Finance department/IT department divide (a regular topic of ours as business intelligence consultants), here are suggestions for what Finance folks should get their developers this year. (And watch for our follow up post on what developers should get Finance.)

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Tags: Business Intelligence

Listing Your SSRS Reports With a SSRS Report—Part 2

Adam Jacobson December 3,2015

A few posts ago, I showed you how to create a nice hierarchical listing of all your SSRS reports within SSRS. While the hierarchical listing is nice, I think it’s even better to have each folder in a separate column (which makes it really easy to dump to Excel and then filter by column).

I'll show you how to do it in this post.

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Tags: SSRS

Data Integration and the Limits of Reverse Engineering: Pain, Suffering and Bad APIs

Adam Jacobson December 1,2015

I’m about to get geeky. If you don't have a soft spot for specs and technology, you may want to stop reading now.

We spend a lot of our time building data integrations. Which means we're at the mercy of different trading partners and independent software vendors. Which makes life challenging when our customers want solid estimates. I hate saying "it depends." But in this case, it does depend. And it depends, largely, on our trading partners.

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Tags: Data Integration

7 Key Data Integration Problems

Adam Jacobson November 26,2015

Few companies get all their information from one system. Most companies we work with have multiple systems—from ERP and WMS systems, to web stores, EDI and other trading partners. Indeed, we spend 30-50 percent of our time integrating data between different systems.

To that end, here are seven classic problems we encounter with integration projects—and clues for how to solve them.

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Tags: Data Integration

Numbers That Don’t Do Anything

Adam Jacobson November 24,2015

As a business intelligence consultant, I spend most of time looking at other people’s information. But as a small business owner, I do occasionally get to look at my own information. And when I do, it reminds me of a basic rule: Information is worthless if you can’t do anything with it.

Case in point: We use HubSpot to run our website. And HubSpot provides lots of metrics. But many of the metrics don’t really help me. For example, HubSpot tells me where my traffic is coming from. (It's easier to use than Google Analytics in this respect.) It can tell me whether traffic is coming from organic search or social media.

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Tags: Business Intelligence

Person + Hammer <> Carpenter:  Thoughts on Self Service BI

Adam Jacobson November 19,2015

For years and years, software vendors have promised end-users they can have the data they want without talking to the IT department they don’t like. Things haven't changed. I recently saw the following business intelligence stats (thanks to @TimoElliott and Logi Analytics).

As you can see, people still need IT. But why? Here are a few thoughts:

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Tags: Microsoft BI Business Intelligence

(Almost) Never Blame Your System

Adam Jacobson November 17,2015

It’s been a fun few weeks. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with Halloween, but in the last 10 days I've fixed more business intelligence “systems” problems than in the last six months. But in almost every case, it wasn’t a systems problem at all. It was a people problem.

Blaming the system is easy but usually not correct. If you have problems with your technology, you probably have issues in your process, training and communication. When (and only when) you have these other pieces in place (and working well) should you look to your system as the source of your problems.

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Tags: Business Intelligence

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