Dynamics 365 Finance: Business Performance Analytics5 min read

A few years back, we started noticing a common issue among our customers – they were struggling with managing large amounts of data spread across different systems. They needed a way to bring all this data together into one place to get useful analytics and reports.

However the process of combining, analyzing, and generating reports often requires expensive developer or consulting support. On top of that, getting reliable data was time-consuming.

To help address these challenges, the Microsoft team has developed a solution to make it easier for businesses to consolidate their data, analyze it effectively, and create insightful reports without the need for costly support.

The goal is to make it quicker and more affordable for companies to access the valuable insights hidden within their data.

Guiding Principles

When it comes to creating business performance analytics, there are three common principles behind the scenes, which are:

  1. Being Delightful for users, ensuring a seamless user experience, and empowering them to easily create reports is a priority. The deployment process has been simplified, making it effortless to generate reports using Excel and Power BI. These tools also facilitate collaboration among team members.
  2. Being Data-Driven and Trustworthy. Using current and reliable data is a must. To achieve this, a role-based access control has been implemented to secure your data. By empowering users to make data-driven decisions, the MS team enables them to leverage the insights derived from accurate data.
  3. Being Extensible. The aim is to provide you with the flexibility to add, remove, or extend data models. This allows you to tailor your analytics to the specific needs of your business. Additionally, the solution is designed to integrate with ISV and partner solutions, giving you even more options for customization.

Process Architecture

The process architecture is based on the value chain model and a dimensional modeling approach. Starting with the Dynamics 365 data, the Microsoft team also considered data from other systems.

Analyzing the Dynamics 365 data from a value chain perspective was essential, as it involves grouping business processes. This focus on the business process level is crucial because it pertains to entering transactions into the ERP.

For example, activities such as creating a journal entry, invoice, or payment generate transactions that will eventually be used for reporting.

All these business processes were then grouped into value chains, including familiar ones like record to report (encompassing budget transactions and general ledger transactions) and procure to pay (covering AP transactions from purchase orders to purchase payments), among others.

The ultimate goal is to include the entire data model from the ERP. However, the initial focus has been on releasing the finance data model. This includes the following value chains:

  • Record to report
  • Procure to pay
  • Order to cash
  • Acquire to retire

In addition to creating these value chains, the team implemented dimensional role-based access control. This ensures that all data is properly organized and grouped within the value chains. The purpose of this implementation is to provide you with an additional source and method to establish role-based security.

On top of that, finally, the step where you are able to build custom analytics.

Both your insights and copilot capabilities will be developed on top of these models.

Data Value Chains

The finance data value chain is broken down into four clusters:

  1. Record to Report: This encompasses budgeting/forecasting, budget reservations, and general ledger activities.
  2. Procure to Pay: This involves purchase requisitions, purchase orders, receipt processing, invoicing, matching, and payments.
  3. Order to Cash: This includes sales/service orders, picking/packing, sales invoicing, sales returns, sales payments, collections, and cash management.
  4. Acquire to Retire: Encompassing acquisition, depreciation/lease entries, repair and maintenance, and retirement/disposal processes.

Business performance analytics is currently in public preview. If you were to join today, you’d be able to enable and experiment with Record to Report and Procure to Pay. Order to Cash will gradually roll out following the completion of Acquire to Retire.

The powerful aspect of these chain data models is that they allow reporting not only on each individual business process within each cluster but also on the entire value chain, from top to bottom.

Cost & BPA at GA

BPA is included in your Finance license at no additional cost. It is currently in public preview. Included in the Finance license are:

  • 3 years of historical data plus the current year (rolling 4 years).
  • 2 data refreshes per day (12 am and 12 pm GMT).
  • Extensibility, allowing links into the customer’s own Fabric environment ($$ Customer’s cost).
  • Ability to view and edit the data model in Excel (after GA).