Mining Your Data in MAS 90/200 ERP
At one of our previous MAS 90/200 ERP Client Conferences, we made the following challenge: “Let us visit your office and we will find and eliminate something you are currently doing that involves manually retyping information from MAS ERP into Excel or some other system for purposes of analysis or reporting. If we don’t find anything, we will buy the whole office lunch.”
Many clients took us up on it at the time and we did not spend one penny on free lunches. Every client had something we could automate. Well, seven or eight years have passed and we are guessing that a similar challenge will again produce no free lunches.
Everywhere we go, we see clients using external systems (Excel being the most popular) for analysis and reporting that require either retyping, or repetitive dumping and reformatting of data. There are much better alternatives and in the years since we first made our “free lunch” challenge, these alternative tools have been improved considerably.
Crystal Reports gives you the ability to report on any data in your system, grouped and formatted any way you want. Whether you need exception reports, statistical analysis, trend and comparison reporting, or a simple snapshot, Crystal Reports eliminates the need for extracting the data to another system.
In the earlier versions of MAS 90/200 many clients shied away from Crystal Reports because it was too complicated and each report needed to be started from scratch. Today however, there are Wizards to help you get started and even better, a majority of the Standard Reports in MAS 90/200 are actually Crystal Reports so you can simply start with one of those and make changes as needed.
And if the power of Crystal Reports still doesn’t get you the exact format you want, you can always extract the MAS 90/200 data on the report straight into Excel and continue your formatting and data massaging there.
Open Data Base Connectivity (ODBC) Links
Because MAS 90/200 and Excel (and other data analysis tools) are Open Data Base Compatible (ODBC), you can literally link directly from an Excel spreadsheet straight into the MAS 90/200 tables. Now most people that use this feature do so simply to get a one-time data dump from MAS 90/200, so they can start working with the data. However if you have a repetitive need for the same data, you can actually create the ODBC link as a live link within a formatted Excel spreadsheet, so that each time you open the spreadsheet, you can get current data.
For example, if you are currently extracting all the Sales Invoice History each month for purposes of commission calculation or salesperson reporting, and each month you spend time sorting, and formatting the data, you can simply create a preformatted spreadsheet with the ODBC link embedded and each month open it with current data, save it under another name and you are done. In a big picture way, this is how the new Sage MAS Intelligence tool works.
Business Insights Explorer
With the move of MAS 90/200 to the new Business Framework (v4.x) Sage introduced Business Insights Explorer as an imbedded tool that gives you the ability to perform business analytics on key sets of data within your MAS 90/200 system, without needing to go to Excel. Using an Excel like grid format, you get to filter, group and total the data that makes sense for your needs. Who is buying what, what items are moving and which aren’t, who are my largest clients and vendors. Even use it as tool to focus in on those clients who are behind in payments to help in the collection process. Available either from the Business Insights menu, or from the Explorer menu within each module, you can start with one of the 25 pre-existing Views and then tailor it to meet you specific business needs.
If you find yourself over-relying on custom Crystal Reports or excessive use of Excel spreadsheets, it might be time to take a look at DataSelf BI. DataSelf is a true DataWarehousing/Business Intelligence tool that allows you to pretty much slice and dice the information in your MAS 90/200 system any way you want. This easy-to-customize solution comes pre-configured with a data warehouse, OLAP cubes, dashboards and over 2,000 reports and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). DataSelf brings you the type of business analysis and reporting typically only found in systems costing 5-10 times that of MAS 90/200, but it can be deployed and learned in just hours, not days. If you haven’t seen it, you owe yourself a look www.dataself.com/demos.htm
If you have questions or need help with any of these solutions, please give us a call.