On a Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation proposal, the cost of building custom reports can be substantial. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are ways that you can dive in and learn to do some of this reporting on your own. However, there are times when it is just better to leave it to the experts. In those cases, here are five tips we know that will help you to reduce the time, and therefore the cost, from your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner.
- Explain the why
I often tell my clients, "If you can't explain why you need that report in a sentence or two, then you haven't thought it through well enough." There is a reason for every report.
We are doing two
One guy does sales for other companies, and he wants to be able to provide metrics to his suppliers. He wants to show manufacturer A what he is doing for them. Then, he wants to present a completely different set of data for manufacturer B. Each personalized with their logo so he can do PowerPoint presentations.
The other guy wants a Power BI report to see how his salespeople are doing. He wants to analyze his team, to figure out where the holes are, where the trends are. They are using the same data for completely different reasons.
When we know why you want the report, we know how to build it. And we can even offer suggestions you may not even have thought of such as, "You want to see overall sales. Wouldn't it be cool if we put a trend line on this report that showed you average sales on your bar chart? So, you can see, sales are going up, but over the past three years they're trending down."
So be able to explain why you need and who will read it.
- Get rid of the garbage
Everyone in the software industry has heard the phrase, "garbage in, garbage out". Bad data gives you bad reports. So make sure you invest time for data cleanup. For example, a single wrong keystroke can make 2012 into 1012, and your results suffer. The Microsoft Dynamics Partner can do the cleanup, but it will be more inexpensive than if you do it on your own. Some companies hire interns to comb through the data so they can deliver crisp, clean files to their Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner.
- Make a mock-up
If you can do a mock-up of the report you are looking for the results will always be better. You can draw it with crayon, on the back of a napkin, whatever. Translating the expectations you have in your mind, into a hard format, is priceless in the planning process.
- Don't be afraid of the wish list
Some clients are afraid to admit they have a wish list. They think that if they tell me now, the focus will be lost, or the project will become too expensive. However, this can create expensive problems later on.
Think of it like building a house. Someday you want to have a pool, but you are not ready for it yet. If you tell the builder you might want a pool in the future, they can plan around that. It will be much less expensive to put the house in the right place now versus ripping it down and moving it later so you can fit that pool.
An example in the CRM world would be if you someday want to tie the data into a project management tool, an accounting system or a public-facing web portal. Or maybe right now you are only a few salespeople in the office, but a few years from now you want customers to be able to do their own ordering online and have those orders feed into the CRM system.
If you plan for this when you are building your CRM system, it can be structured a bit differently to make this happen. It could be something as simple as creating a table called users, instead of employees, which limits your options.
You want to think about where you want to be in five years and ask your Dynamics 365 Partner to build with that in mind.
- Watch and learn
If you are setting up Power BI reports that pull data from different sources, the first report is always the hardest. If you need several similar reports, you could choose to pay your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner to build the first one, then use the data that is sitting there to create your own. A good Partner can show you how to drag a chart over, and slice and dice the data in new ways.
There will be a learning curve on your side, but learning these skills can pay off in the long run.
P2 Automation can help you get the reports you need at an affordable cost. One way we do this is with a
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