Business Intelligence

The Best SaaS Reporting Tool is No SaaS Reporting Tool

Almost every one of my clients depends on some kind of SaaS solution for some part of their operation. 

Whether it’s payroll, accounting or electronic records, the data is controlled by their vendor of choice.  

This is all well and good for basic processing. But too often, it doesn’t work well when it comes time to actually understand the data or (even more so) combine the data with data from other systems.  

Why? Because if my clients weren’t careful when they chose a solution, they’re probably now reliant on the SaaS reporting tool provided by the application if they need to create any custom queries or reports. Or worse, they have to rely on the reports the vendor provides.

And this leads to problems.  

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Dynamics NAV, Jet Reports

Jet Reports – What NAV Server Am I Using?

A client recently asked me: “When I run a report, how can I know which server/company I’m using?”

It’s a good question — and one that others may have.

Below, I’ll walk you through the answer.

And because pretty colors impress most folks, I’ve even made it match the colors that show up in NAV.

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Business Intelligence

Moving Data From Excel to SQL Server with PowerShell (Relatively Painlessly)

Last fall, my attendance at the SQL Summit was entirely justified by a presentation by Aaron Nelson, a SQL Server MVP on Excel, PowerShell and SQL Server.

Unfortunately, I regularly suffer from having Excel as a data source. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t happen.

Logically, no one would buy a SaaS solution without first figuring out how the data in that system would be accessed and combined with all the other data your organization needs.

Unfortunately, things aren’t always logical.

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Finance, Accounting, and BI

Financial Risk and Your Non-Profit

I was talking to a friend/prospective client recently about the accounting knowledge that is a key part of my work.

We agreed that in too many non-profits, the board’s finance committee doesn’t perform its necessary function. The committee members look at a few reports when they meet, but they don’t really dig in. They may have a soft connection to “numbers,” but they aren’t always great at picking apart financial statements.

So, the question came up: if you want to evaluate financial risk in your non-profit, where would you start?

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Business Intelligence

Why You Need a Data Mart

When an organization has data questions, those questions can sometimes be answered by writing reports directly over the systems where the data was entered—whether that’s an EHR (Electronic Health Records) or accounting system. Often, this approach works just fine for financial statements and basic operational reporting. (Indeed, I’ve written before (back in 2011) about how to use the general ledger as a simple datamart/data warehouse. And I’ve run many projects using this method.)

However, this approach breaks down as data becomes more complex, such as when you need data from multiple systems to answer your questions. Unfortunately for my social service agency clients, this is almost always the case.

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SSRS

How to Export to Excel Without Making a Mess

Many, if not most, of the SSRS reports I write end up being exported to Excel. But unfortunately, many reports don’t export cleanly. More often than not, you wind up with merged cells and blank spaces you don’t want.

In this blog post, I’ll show you how to build your report correctly for a cleaner export to Excel.

Exporting to Excel

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Business Intelligence

Start With a Good Problem to Be More Data Driven

If you’re reading this post, you want to be more data driven. How do I know this?

As I shift my business to social service agencies, I’ve been talking to many executives in those agencies. And almost every one of them tells me they want to be more data driven.

So, I’m guessing that—if you’re like most of your peers—you want to be more data driven too.

But the question remains—where do you start?

If you want to be more data driven, you need to start by finding a good problem to solve. But what makes a good problem?

Find a good problem to solve to be more data driven

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Business Intelligence

Restarting the Red Three Blog and Newsletter

Over the course of the last seven years, I created over 300 posts for my blog. These posts were written sporadically. Some years, I wrote over 100. This year, I’ve written maybe two.

But as I focus my business on “helping social service agencies maximize revenue and results with data,” I find myself answering the same set of questions. Some questions are strategic, (“How do we become more data driven?”). Some relate to data architecture, (“Do we need a datamart or a star schema?”). Others are specific to the tools we use, such as SQL Server Reporting Services, (“How do I stop cells from merging when I export to Excel?”).

Restarting the Red Three blog and newsletter

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Business Intelligence

The Health Home Program and Its (Relatable) Data Problems

An article in Politico caught my attention recently. It was about the Health Homes program and some of its problems.

For those of you not familiar with this program, here’s a brief explanation from the article:

Health homes are not brick-and-mortar buildings. They are a concept based on the idea that if several providers work together to coordinate care for the most expensive Medicaid patients, they can provide better care at a lower cost.

These patients, the so-called super-utilizers, have behavioral and mental health issues, substance abuse problems, multiple chronic conditions, sometimes all of the above. Health homes, which can be a hospital or health and human services agency, assemble a network of providers that together manage care for the patient.

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Dynamics NAV

SOX Audits and Dynamics NAV, Part 1: “The Auditors are Here and They Have a Few Questions”

If you work at the intersection of systems and accounting, as I do, the title of this post may put you on edge—because you know how the story goes. Your system is working fine. You may even have time to get to some of the “nice to haves” as the “must haves” are going pretty well. But then the auditors show up. And you end up spending a LOT of time with them—without much to show for it.

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