Data analytics is transforming many types of business, enabling companies to measure nearly anything. But as any manager knows, data is not the same as insights. You need to have the right information to understand business performance and make better decisions. Too much data can also cloud your thinking.
As an ERP system, Prophet 21® has always offered distributors a wealth of information about their business. Built on top of a SQL database, P21™ can capture incredible permutations of data about inventory, suppliers, sales, or customers. The trick is in deciding what metrics matter, and then selecting the best tool to get that information out.
For a long time now, we’ve relied on Crystal Reports, a powerful business intelligence application (first created way back in 1991) for coding database queries that generate reports. In recent years, we’ve also recommended Reportal, which automates Crystal Reports and distributes the results any number of ways, such as on a shared internal web page or via email.
A more modern trend is analytics dashboards. These present real-time information, with dynamic charts and graphics to help quickly visualize various aspects of your business. For data-hungry managers, dashboards deliver the goods quickly.
The makers of P21 are even getting into the game. Epicor recently announced a new data analytics solution for Prophet 21. While we have not yet fully evaluated the platform, this much is clear: Epicor Data Analytics (EDA) is a cloud-based service offering a dashboard for visualizing standard types of P21 data, including sales, inventory, purchasing and accounts receivables.
With this platform, companies purchase one or more of six “content packs” based on what specific set of data you want to track. The basic service includes the Sales content pack, and other content packs are optional extensions.
It’s interesting to see Epicor finally develop a real-time analytics solution around P21. And for businesses that need up-to-the-minute insights into standard metrics, EDA could fit well.
What’s Right for Your Business?
If you’re not already getting reports from P21, you’re missing an opportunity to understand your business at a deeper level.
Even if you are pulling reports, it’s always worthwhile to consider if you can find more efficient wasy to get the information. Are you using the tools to their fullest potential? Do you have unanswered questions that you would like to explore?
As with any software tool, you need to consider what constraints it may impose. There is typically a trade-off between ease-of-use and functionality. In our experience, Crystal Reports enables endless customization, but it does require a certain expertise. We work directly with customers to generate specific reports based on what information they want, so they get easy-to-read reports delivered when they need them.
Whether you want to optimize how you use an existing reporting tool or explore new ways of gathering analytics, we can simplify the process. Contact us to share what P21 reporting challenges you face. We would love to help you find the right solution.