15 Aug 2016Blog

Budgeting and forecasting with Power BI, Qlik Sense, QlikView or Tableau tools

In my opinion, Microsoft’s Power BI, QlikView, Qlik Sense and Tableau are great tools for making use of information in support of management. They are versatile tools that allow dynamic management desktops, for example, as well as efficient ad hoc reporting in a visually appealing form. In particular, Tableau and Qlik Sense are also very deft at data discovery. These tools also enable reporting in table format, although this is not their strong suit.

In other words, they are a great help in supporting the operations of an organisation’s management, in addition to which they are pleasant to use. Unfortunately, what they lack are features for the actual entry of data, needed in budgeting, for example, as well as in forecasting and simulation. What is often used for such needs are Excel files, through which the data is also uploaded to the business intelligence tools, most likely via intermediate stages.

Although I’m a great friend of Excel, its challenges often become apparent, even in smaller organisations.

These challenges may arise from the shared use of the same information, the discovery of a single truth and a lack of transparency (particularly in more complex Excel models). Another possible deficiency is that the monthly reporting package cannot, in its entirety, be built in the BI tool through comment entries. Rather, the reporting packages are formed with the help of PowerPoint and Excel, the figures no longer being tied to any system.

What would be necessary, then, in addition to a BI tool, is a planning system/corporate performance management software that enables the collection of data, links between the different parts of plans (such as partial budgets) and real-time calculations. It would also be good to get figures, such as forecasts, to the BI tool’s monitoring reports as fast as possible. The automation of reporting packages would also be a big help.

When the BI technology has already been selected, and time and money perhaps also invested in the construction of content and implementation, it is not necessarily advisable to invest in a solution whose role significantly overlaps with that of the current solution. These days, a single system may not be able to answer all business intelligence needs, instead of which the solution is formed through multiple systems with mutual real-time integration.

Which planning system would go well with your current BI system?

Jedox is a modern planning system suitable for both enterprise-level use and smaller organisations. Thanks to its good integration features, it can be used in very different use cases. Based on the customer’s needs, Jedox is available both as a service from a cloud and in a licence-based form, installed on your organisation’s own servers.

Jedox enables easy connections to SQL Server databases (Power BI), Qlik Sense and QlikView’s qvx file format, Tableau’s tde file format and tens of other data sources/targets. Information can not only be read from these sources, but written into the other direction, meaning that forecasts, for instance, can be smoothly imported into the BI tools. At the beginning of August, Qlik and Jedox agreed on a partnership that enables increasingly close integration between the systems. The markets also offer other systems compatible with QlikView, but their functionalities, in comparison to Jedox, are clearly more limited.

In addition to various databases and file formats, Jedox also includes a ready Salesforce connection which we at Solita use, for example. Potential additional features include a ready SAP connector (ERP/BW) and a start package, which enable the harnessing of financial data and dimensional hierarchies for planning use very rapidly. More connections to various systems are to be expected later on this year.

What do two different systems mean from the user’s perspective?

Ready connections allow for automating the transfer of data between systems to a level unnoticeable to the user. Views can be embedded crosswise – the user can, for example, open the QlikView software directly from Jedox Web’s user interface and use it as if they had opened it directly through a separate link. The user can also switch back to Jedox’ entry views, whenever necessary.

So, what about those current budget Excels? If the files are sensible and user-friendly, they can easily be linked to Jedox’s data and published in Jedox Web as entry templates. You will be using familiar and secure templates and entering data through a browser, and users can no longer edit the template settings; they can only enter figures. Office integration, on the other hand, enables the formation of reports in such a way that the figures of Excel reports linked to PowerPoint come directly from Jedox and can be updated with the click of a mouse.

By taking a modern planning system into use alongside your BI tool, you can:

  • do away with the pain of Excel, without losing its benefits;
  • speed up and improve the reporting process;
  • speed up and improve the budgeting process;
  • enable planning at business’s terms;
  • free up your financial team’s time from manual work to analysing.
  • It will also allow for, e.g. customer and product profitability calculations.