Microsoft introduced Paginated reports into the Power suite quite some time ago but this product has been outside the reach of most users due to requirement of premium or premium per user licensing. Microsoft recently made this functionality available to Pro users.
This will reduce licensing costs by 50% for an organisation with PPU licences just to receive this type of report.
Paginated Reports take away the pain of printing from Power BI, which never really gets the desired result. Once in the service these can be scheduled and emailed which is just fantastic.
BINavigation employs paginated reports in its Management Accounting suite to generate pdfs of accounts for distribution outside an organisation or to consumers without Power BI access.
Any organisation that has used SSRS should welcome paginated reports since it is essentially the same technology. So why not consider migrating these reports to the Power platform and avoid the internal anguish of resource intensive in house databases.
Announcing support for paginated reports in Power BI Pro | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI
To see our financial reporting suite in action, take a look at our demo app. Unfortunately Microsoft does not allow this functionality, but we can demonstrate this on request.
Interested in a new approach to management accounts and financial statements. Then go to our financial statements section.
Paginated Reports comes to Pro
BINav now incorporates budgeting within its financial suite. Suitable for all businesses operating a bottom up budgeting process, the solution builds a current year forecast before leading you through a monthly budget for the budget period.
There are a plethora of financial planning tools out there, a lot of them very expensive and with functionality that is rarely used. Whilst top down based software is very impressive at churning a lot of analysis, it rarely hits the mark in the real world. The consequences are misleading numbers, process time taken to fine tune and manage monthly timings or calendarisation. For annual budget preparation in this post COVID world top-down, auto time allocated budgeting should definitely be operated with caution. However for quicky forecasts and scenario managements this type of process certainly does have a place.
What sets BINav’s budget process apart?
- collects historical data quickly from the BINav Management Accounts.
- populates initial inputs on the basis of the previous 12 months actuals to accelerate preparation time.
- full salary planning by person with department allocation and starter/leaver timings.
- integrates back to Power BI quickly, enabling consolidation at any point in the budget process.
- familiar excel based interface but without the faff of formula design, formatting and protection issues.
- automatic adjustment as forecast months become actual.
If you’re interested in taking a look at our full financial suite then check out our simple solution here or complex solution here.
Financial planning and budgeting comes to BINav
For a budget demo please contact us and we’ll take you through the software.
Enterprise DNA Certified
BINav is pleased to announce their certification with Enterprise DNA. This certification is achieved by slightly more than 1% of EDNA members. Microsoft certifications tend to be just written tests, difficult but nontheless pure tests of technical knowledge. EDNA certifiaction is based on actual Power BI Report development and real world problem solving.
If you’re looking to get to grips with Power BI training and development look no further than the vast amount of learning material published by Enterprise DNA
If you require assistance with your Power BI project then get in touch with us at BINav and we can discuss your requirements
When developing financial statements and management accounting models in Power BI, developers very quickly realise that the standard MS matrix isn’t really up to the job. MS visuals are excellent for showcasing aspects of financials as line, bar and donut charts, tables, and whilst that will be a user requirement there is also the need to present information in a traditional format.
Why does the MS Matrix not function very well?
- No number formatting options for individual rows.
- Subtotals and totals are required to be inserted into “odd” places.
- Outlining individual columns of the matrix is not possible.
- Unable to colour row headers.
- No bold or italic for individual rows.
What custom visuals are there in the app store?
In my view the key players here are Inforiver, Zebra and Profitbase. All three visuals give options to:
- Insert rows on the fly and perform calculations such as GP% or Net Income%.
- Manage switching accounting signage to easily understandable for non-accountants.
- Individual row formatting – colour, bold, italics.
Zebra and Inforiver also offer data bars and waterfall charts, live comments and forecasting/budgeting options. Inforiver offers some level of pdf and export to excel functionality.
Relevant to all three visuals is the ability to insert a row on the fly. This is fantastic functionality since it reduces the requirement to write more complex DAX and may bring a project to production faster.
The downside here, however, is any export directly from the data model, rather than the visual, will require these calculations to be made again in the export recipient, which rather defeats the object of having a powerful analysis tool in the first place. The same issue arises when preparing an export as a paginated report data source. Equally, whenever there is a change in reporting structure, new lines inserted etc, then all the visuals will require attention. With DAX this could all be handled with a single reporting structure dimension table.
Which visual is best?
As always it depends. They all have good functionality and manage traditional financial statement presentation excellently.
Profitbase comes as a free version. So if you’re just looking for financial statement presentation then there is ample functionality here to do the job.
Zebra and Inforiver are richer with charts and comments and could be employed in other Power BI apps covering other areas of the business, e.g. sales performance, receivables etc. This would dilute the licencing cost across your whole suite of apps and give users a common visual experience across all aspects of Power BI. Inforiver offers forecasting and budgeting options, which for larger companies who take their enterprise option could significantly reduce the costs of preparing a budget.
Power BI – Which Financial Reporting Visual?
Spending too much money on financial analysis software? Taking too much time finalizing your monthly accounts? Still using excel? DMS management accounting offerings poor? Then consider using Power BI as your future tool for accounts production
Today BINavigation is excited in launching Motor Trade MA, a management accounting tool with all the analysis you need to deep dive your dealership financials. As well as traditional displays, Motor Trade MA lets you view your financial history in more ways than you ever thought possible.
Not just a set of accounts. More a tool to view trending, check out record performances, compare departments, sites and managers, view budgets. Slice and dice your dealer group however you like with any combination of sites or divisions.
Power BI – Motor Trade Accounts
Looking to get into Power BI? Would like better financial reporting?
BINavigation now includes online training material to help you get started with Power BI for financial statements. With a suite of over 15 bite size videos and a showcase app, this is certainly a good place to start to transform your financials.
Click here to check out the content.
Developing Power BI to report on accounting data can be tricky. This training material takes a lot of the mystery out of what technically seems a difficult task at the outset. However, once some basic concepts have been digested the development can be pretty straight forward for most organisations.
Big shout out to the guys at Enterprise DNA. They’ve been knocking out training material for a few years now and their offering just goes from strength to strength. I’d like to thank the experts at EDNA particularly Sam McKay, CFA and Brian Julius for their inspiration in getting me to write some online training stuff.
#Powerbitraining #powerbifinancials #Powerbiincomestatements #motortradeaccounts
Power BI – Income Statement Training Videos
Search engines have revolutionized learning sources over the last decade. But with such a wealth of You Tube videos and so many links how can you self-learn Power BI easily without running down too many internet dark alleys?
Everybody is different in how they acquire skills but the following have been the best resources for my Power BI learning experience.
Training videos are bite sized, you can run along at your own pace and the forum members usually respond within 24 hours with good technical advice if you are struggling on a single aspect. You can also get accreditations from EDNA which in my view are better than the Microsoft ones because they are practically based.
This is by far the most comprehensive learning tool I have come across. Whilst there is plenty of free stuff and a You Tube channel, spending the money (and not a lot of money) on a subscription gives access to excellent structured learning with probably the best tech forum I have been a part of.
One of the first things to learn in Power BI is how to get the data to the reporting tool. This is done with Power Query. Imke Feldmann is a master at this, extracting data, twisting it around and formatting it correctly for the data model is her forte. From a personal viewpoint one of her blog posts kickstarted the accounting template promoted on my website.
Matt Allington has a fantastic skill in making some of the more complex topics very simple. He often replicates excel issues in Power BI, which is fantastic for those of us coming from a strong excel base.
Similar to Matt Allington, Reza offers bite sized solutions and is equally well versed in Power Query and Power BI.
You won’t get far in your Power BI journey without coming across Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari. Subscribe to their weekly tips and you get videos and explanation weekly on some topic or other. These guys are the gurus but at a beginner level can be a bit heavy. Once you’ve got the basics their stuff can be extremely enlightening in problem solving the mechanics of a model and how to optimize it.
There are other formidable players out there too, but personally I learnt the most from these places.
Power BI – Top 5 Learning Resources
If you’re thinking about getting started with the most revolutionary software tool since Excel, then these are the places to go to find out more.
I have spent 30 years in the motor trade and part of that generation responsible for computerization of business process. I spent a lot of time in the 90s and beyond automating process, replacing manual with computer, hooking tech up to 3rd parties etc. Today there are a lot of tools out there in the market place that all pretty much do the same thing. For all good reason the buying process has migrated away from technical staff to commercial leaders and influencers. Tech no longer has the wow factor it had 20 years ago and has been replaced with frustration when it doesn’t function correctly with sometimes a long haul to find something that does.
It can be difficult to justify spend on new tech like Power BI when what you have does the job. In current times tech is more about gaining efficiencies, simplifying process and producing accurate meaningful information to move a business forward. Power BI facilitates this by pulling your data from a whole myriad of sources, your ERP system (or for most businesses multiple systems), the internet, 3rd parties and the list goes on. It then transforms this into a series of visualisations designed for management to quickly get to the root cause of an issue. Old fashioned report writing is fine but really only highlights the issues. Further reports then need to be written/run to get under that issue. And that takes time. All of this is covered in Power BI with a few mouse clicks.
Power BI ticks a lot of boxes in the efficiency gain and cost saving stakes. It is not expensive.
As always in Microsoft world, when they get the bit between the teeth, they tend eventually to develop market leading software. This is true of Excel – does anyone remember Lotus 123 or Quattro?, also true of Word – does anyone remember Word Perfect and Word Star?. In more recent times, partly due to the pandemic this has also been true of Teams, albeit Zoom is an equal contender in my view. I believe this will also become true of Power BI. Microsoft launched the product in 2015 and it is now very solid and going from strength to strength.
Putting this into a real world situation, I had an idea 20 years ago. Something along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be marvellous if all my reporting was all in one place and easily accessible to answer whatever query I might have?” Our core dealer management system was and still is market leading, but is still rooted in 90s tech and too expensive to upgrade to the current version. Yes, it gives you the core stuff and is a fantastic transactional processing tool, but modern it certainly isn’t.
Taking my idea, we stumbled along for years with dealer management system reports that weren’t too far removed from the music line reports of old, making good use of Excel to deal with the shortcomings.
We looked at analysis (or if you’re tech cube) software, but the research always concluded with too expensive, too difficult to set up and maintain, poor UI, too reliant on tech staff. So back to Excel. With the launch of Power BI this all changed. With only a few new technical concepts to master, a good excel user can get something to production in Power BI fairly quickly.
I retired from the motor trade recently leaving the business with a good suite of Power BI tools to answer most financial questions which may arise. All of this was achieved at a fraction of the cost of implementing off the shelf solutions available from the business’s software partners. It was also achieved without too much in house technical support, the solutions being developed from a dialogue between finance and the operational management.
The management team now have a Power BI App which covers off with a few clicks all the following areas:
- Management Accounts
- multiple franchises, sites, depts
- Budget and prior year trends
- Monthly, Quarterly, Half yearly and Yearly trends
- Site and dept comparisons
- Vehicle Sales profitability
- Finance penetrations and profit stats
- Other Addon penetrations and profit stats
- All of the above sliced by sales exec, franchise, site, model, variant, customer, sales type, manufacturer sales type, age of vehicle etc
- All drillable to the DMS data
- Aftersales DOC – daily tracker on all key drivers covering labour sales and parts margins.
- Aftersales Gross Deepdive
- Covers all aspects of Service and Bodyshop Gross profit including parts, labour and other
- Profitability by customer
- Profitability by job category
- Debtor control – include vehicle debtors, aftersales debtors and manufacturer bonus claims
I would recommend any business to scope out Power BI. The software is not expensive and has a free licence without time expiry to get you started. Once in play it will give your business one version of the truth and point you to root cause. It will and should also raise other issues which you may not have thought of because they lurked in the depths of your data.
Power BI – My journey to decent reporting
The modern world is full of data, but not necessarily data which offers any meaning. The number of likes on a social media post about having beans on toast for tea will never set the world on fire, even though it’s all good fun.
Companies need insight to all aspects of their business regularly. Gone are the days of “all you need are a dozen KPIs and you’re done”.
Let’s take a look at how a business with poor, or older reporting systems might operate. It could be operating legacy systems with reports which:
- May take too long to run
- Have to be run by IT or accounting staff
- Don’t get delivered on time
- Come from out-of-the-box software and are not relevant to the actual business
- Require further analysis after review, taking up valuable IT or accounting resource
- Are dull in their presentation; no colour, no graphics, not well sorted
With Power BI the information is at your fingertips:
- No reports to run – the reports update automatically at a frequency to suit the business
- One version of the truth for the entire organisation
- Good visuals draw the eye to the issues and insights
- Easily drill down to the detail of a problem to see the root cause. (Is it one transaction, a particular product, customer, manager or sales executive?).
- Track issues over time
- Reduce the number of spreadsheets in the organisation
- Share with MS Teams
- Filter and slice easily reducing the need to run multiple reports
In this time-starved world where we now find ourselves, it is important that business management has the right tools to do the job. Business analysis software has been around for 20 years but was out of the price range for most organisations, was difficult to tailor to specific business needs without IT specialists and was out of date almost as soon as it was written.
Power BI – Why Bother?
Power BI is a cost-effective tool for managing not just accounting, but any aspect of control process and profitability. It will get management to the root cause of an issue quickly leaving time to solve the problem rather than just decide what the problem is.
For those with an Excel background, think of Power BI as Excel on heat. Certainly, in the financial reporting world the number of excel workbooks even on a single topic can just grow and grow as your information requirements change. This means ever more formulae. The calculations just take longer and eventually you break things up into a second workbook and a third and so on.
With a well-structured Power BI model and a few measures (tech speak for calculations), Power BI opens up a wealth of insight into a business, that you may not know is there. And all pretty much by drag and drop.
Reasons to move to Power BI:
• Power BI can handle much more data than Excel.
• Power BI dashboards are much easier to create than Excel charts.
• Power BI runs seamlessly on PC, IOS and Android tablets and mobiles.
• Power BI has a wider level of connectivity sources.
• Power BI can’t be corrupted by an end user. This can happen in Excel with a poorly protected workbook.
• A lot can be achieved with the free licensed version Power BI.
• Data can be automatically updated, giving daily updates of information.
Reasons to stick with Excel:
• Excel is tried and trusted and been with us for years.
• Power Bi can be conceptually difficult at the outset; Most Excel super users are well versed in Excel formulae.
• Good for adhoc analysis
• Excel will accept data input
• Excel manages pdf and hardcopy production better than Power BI. Whilst hard copy is part of Power Bi the licensing cost may make it cost prohibitive. The development of the reports can be tricky for even the seasoned Excel super user.
Power BI vs Excel
Both Excel and Power BI have a part to play in the modern workplace. I recommend using Power BI for the core reporting requirements, leaving Excel for any ad hoc analysis. In this time starved world management need access to their information regularly with one version of the truth shared across the organisation. Power BI can achieve this without the need to update a myriad of workbooks to get there. This will then leave the data/report preparation staff (IT or Finance) better placed to answer the questions those reports raise and focus on moving the business on rather than maintaining it.