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Limelight for Microsoft Dynamics - Move from a Lengthy Planning & Reporting Process to a Fast, Real-Time Process

ERP | 15 April 2019

Why Are Businesses Moving Away from Excel?

Manually exporting data from your ERP into spreadsheets is inefficient and time-consuming, not to mention prone to errors. Chances are your ERP doesn’t talk to your other databases, which makes it hard to coordinate planning & reporting across multiple systems. So, you’re relegated to manually stitching data dumps together in Excel. This is time-consuming and frustrating and means critical tasks are then fraught with issues such as:

  • Lengthy financial close processes
  • Time-consuming, manual data exports and manipulation
  • Lack of data integrity
  • No single source of truth for reporting

In order to understand how to move from a lengthy planning and reporting process to a fast, real-time workflow, we are going to review the ERP systems available from Microsoft, the challenges of using spreadsheets and how our solution, Limelight for MS Dynamics, can help.    


Understanding the Available Microsoft ERP Systems

Are you confused as we are with all of the ERP systems by Microsoft? Here is a quick breakdown of each one….I believe we got them all.

Microsoft Dynamics GP

Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) More than just accounting software, Dynamics GP is an ERP solution that helps small and medium-sized businesses gain greater control over their financials, inventory, and operations.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) If your business is growing and ready to take on more opportunities, Dynamics NAV can help. An easily adaptable enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, it helps small and medium-sized businesses automate and connect their sales, purchasing, operations, accounting, and inventory management.

Microsoft Dynamics SL

Microsoft Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon) is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that combines powerful project - and financial-management capabilities to help businesses manage customer demands, keep up with compliance regulations, and deliver services on time and on budget.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is the next release for Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX  customers. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud ERP and CRM system that runs on Microsoft Azure, supporting sales, customer service, field service, marketing, project service automation, operations and financials.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an all-in-one business management solution that's easy to use and adapt, helping you connect your business and make smarter decisions.

Using Excel to Plan & Report Out of Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics customers have tried leveraging Management Reporter, FRX, F9 or Excel to retrieve the reports, budgets and forecasts they need.

As a personal productivity software, Microsoft Excel is great. It’s familiar and it’s part of a low-cost software suite. However, when you start to use it for critical business functions -budgeting, planning, reporting -you quickly learn that all of these advantages are washed away by the risks that come along with using spreadsheets. Lack of data integration, manual reconciliation, email hand-offs, and errors, all begin to cut away from the ‘security of the familiar’ and begin to build up the ‘danger of the outdated’.

Needless to say, if you’re using Excel to manage key business processes, you’re putting your business at the unnecessary risk of wasted resources, lack of audit trails, low security, erroneous data and much, much more.

Do you find yourself experiencing the following challenges when planning in Excel?

  • Planning has become too time consuming: Downloading information from source systems into Excel, formatting each tab and file, emailing worksheets to departments, manually collecting and consolidating the information and manually checking that it’s correct, added with the multiple back and forth barely leaves you time for data analysis.
  • Concerned about security: With each email, the security risk becomes bigger and bigger. Emails can be forwarded to anyone, and financials can easily find their way into the wrong hands.
  • Did I catch every error: Studies show that 90% of your spreadsheets have errors. Add this to the lack of visibility & control and it becomes less of a matter of “if” something will go wrong but rather “when” something will go wrong.
  • We can’t afford something better: A common concern, especially for small and mid-sized businesses, is that Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software is expensive. However, the cloud has made budgeting and planning software much more affordable. It’s also made on-boarding quicker and less costly.

A Modern FP&A Platform for Microsoft Dynamics

Limelight seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics to deliver real-time planning, forecasting & reporting. Managers and business users love the fresh modern look, ease of use, collaboration and productivity gained by removing all the manual excel processes.

What does a cloud-based budgeting, planning, and forecasting process really look like?  The first difference you’ll notice is that data integration is automated.  You can easily seed the budgeting process with the prior year’s actual financial results, existing staff and compensation information, and other critical budgeting information from your existing systems.

Next, Finance no longer needs to send Excel-based budgeting templates to managers via email and manually collect and consolidate the details. Budget templates are built in Limelight and are accessed by users via a web browser. When they update their budget information and click "Save", the data is immediately stored in a centralized database for immediate calculation and roll-up.

Thirdly, with features like audit trail you can track every change, use workflow to manage and monitor the budgeting process, collaborate & communicate with your team using commentaries, centralize documentation, plan beyond the G/L level with line-item details, drill-through reports to transactional details, uncover trends with interactive charts & graphs and be rest assured of a high user adoption with our ease of use and full Excel experience over the web.

This approach makes life easier for finance users and helps drive broader participation and ownership of the process. And because cloud-based CPM software is optimized for access anytime and anywhere, managers and users can participate at work, on the road, or at home if needed. With Limelight you’ll dramatically streamline your processes, increase productivity and make smarter decisions with data that is accurate and relevant.

We’ve made it easy to learn more about Limelight - watch our recorded demo on your own time.

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