We often hear from organisations that have hit a ‘data wall’ when they are using Power BI for their financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting process.

Power BI is an intelligent solution, however, it was created as a visualisation and reporting tool. Unfortunately, its ability to “tell a story” using integrated data sources can only take you so far on your forecasting and planning journey. Power BI does not allow you to input planning data directly into its reports. This means many companies are forced to complete this step of the process in an external tool, most often Excel.

However, there is a way to capitalise on Power BI’s visual benefits, while bolstering its capacity to handle driver-based planning. When you combine the tool with a leading enterprise performance management system, like Jedox, you create an optimal planning environment that enhances decision-making capability and speed of execution.

Why is it important to use a dedicated enterprise performance management tool?

We like to use the simple analogy that your planning, budgeting, and forecasting process should be like driving a car.

Power BI gives you visibility of the rear-view, it provides you with important historical data on where you have been. An enterprise performance management tool is like your front windshield, it allows you to see what lies ahead.

As a FP&A specialist, you need to lay the foundations for how your organisation can grow and minimise risk. You can’t expect to move forward when you’re only looking in the rear view mirror. Sustainable business growth coupled with improved forecasting accuracy requires both forward and back vision.

How can you improve your planning environment?

Having the right technology in place is critical to creating an optimal planning and analysis environment. However, when it comes to integrated business planning, there are other things we also recommend our clients consider. These, include the ability to:

  • Measure at a granular level: measure at a level that makes sense to your business and provides useful insights.
  • Incorporate external data points: add additional context to your reports, including, industry-led data, government data, and/or existing statistics.

  • Speed of execution: making sound business decisions requires access to the right information in a time-sensitive manner. This involves automating data integrations to have real-time visibility and data transparency to inform decision making.

  • Integrate operational planning: a good planning environment requires a detailed outline of how you will execute and achieve strategic goals. This includes the work of sales, the supply chain, the workforce, etc.

  • Adopt artificial intelligence: robust planning environments should include an element of AI. This will allow you to predict and support future outcomes and performance.

What happens when you integrate Jedox with Power BI?

When you combine Jedox with Power BI you experience the benefits of both platforms in a single, familiar user experience.

Essentially, the Jedox platform becomes another data source for Power BI. With the OData feed, you can simply connect and exchange data to and from Jedox into Power BI. Once the connection is established, you will then have access to all the data cubes that you store in Jedox. This two-way connection allows you to change, modify and transform a rich range of data directly from Power BI.

You can reduce the number of spreadsheets you work with, while also overcoming data silos and inefficient processes. The integrated solution is accessible from either desktop or the web, and teams can collaborate confidently using up-to-date, automatically refreshed data.

In addition, the integration allows you to add additional sources and instances of data. For example, you can give further context to your reports by adding external data points such as government or industry-based data, creating more dimensions to your model.

Why we recommend an integrated planning cycle

Power BI and Jedox
Optimal integrated planning cycle using Jedox and Power BI

A key skill required of FP&A leaders of the future is the ability to story tell, more specifically, the capability to translate numbers into a story to help support decision making.

The combined power of the two tools allows you to display past performance, as well as collect and analyse data to gather insights and predict future outcomes.

The process we recommend starts by planning in the Jedox solution, then moving into Power BI to create visual reports.

This removes the need for you to jump between solutions and dashboards. Instead, the unique and powerful integration, allows you to embed Jedox reports and dashboards into Power BI. This means you can work directly from the Power BI interface but capitalise on Jedox’s advanced templates and AI capabilities. Any updates or enhancements to the original Jedox model or template can be done within the Power BI environment – allowing you to complete advanced integrated planning.

Planning and forecasting of the future needs to be flexible

Another important aspect to consider when it comes to forecasting and planning is your model’s malleability. That is, it’s important to be able to adjust, and scenario plan to determine a range of outcomes.

The enterprise performance management tool, Jedox, is first and foremost a world-leading planning tool. It allows you to easily adjust your trajectory if required. As an FP&A professional it’s important that you have access to data to make time-sensitive recommendations that can help improve performance. It gives you the ability to track, measure and decide on a way forward.

Some of the main benefits of Jedox is that it’s fast to convert your excel reports into Jedox reports with the added capability and flexibility to drill down and drill through to explore data – beyond visualisations. Similarly, planning can be done bottom-up, or top-down, and with the built-in Planning Assistant, Jedox can help you easily create multiple planning scenarios.

Even with all this flexibility, high levels of security can be maintained. The system allows you to set up workflows to limit what people can do within a particular template. This allows you to send reports for review, without having to worry about duplications or unsolicited edits.

Predictive Analytics and the role of AI in forecasting

There is no doubt that the world of planning and forecasting is changing rapidly. More often, organisations are looking at supporting their forecasting process with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.

With an advanced enterprise performance management tool, you can start leveraging predictive analytics capabilities immediately. A solution like Jedox, will take your existing data, clean it up, and highlight any outliers, allowing you to get started with predictive using any data set that you have available today. Forecasting using Jedox’s AI wizard as your prediction tool allows you to run multiple models in a fraction of the time. You will be rewarded with a forecast of what will be the most likely outcome.

Interested to see the solutions in action?

Check out our demonstration which shows you a use case of Jedox and Power BI.

How to start

Before jumping ahead, we recommend building a strategy and roadmap on how you want to use Power BI and Jedox in your unique environment.

Combining the two solutions allows you to leverage and enhance the way you visualise and story-tell through Power BI. The integration provides a seamless and easy to navigate user experience and helps you to create the optimal planning, forecasting and budgeting environment.

To learn more about how Minerva can help you improve your planning process using Power BI, get in contact by calling 1800 MINERVA, or email through at info@minerva.com.au

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