Today’s business world is driven by copious and ubiquitous amounts of data, maybe especially for non-profit organizations. Because data is so important to decision-making, as non-profits work hard to stay within budget and/or on course with donors, grants, members, and so on, a data warehouse can be very impactful in your Business Intelligence (BI) processes. We know that a lot of consumers might be unfamiliar with data warehousing, so you probably have questions. This article will be all about answering those questions for non-profit organizations, so you can understand how data warehousing can expand data management and analytics of your data from Microsoft Dynamics and additional data sources.
Shall we define it? Let’s begin with the concept: a data warehouse (DW) is a multi-dimensional database. In other words, a DW is a virtual storage space or a server-staged database, which can function on a standalone server or one that is shared. As a comparison, an external hard drive provides you a place to house a variety of file types and programs while modern commercial DWs offer you space to store multiple operational and transactional data sets. Another way to conceptualize DWs: three-dimensionalizing an Excel spreadsheet would allow you to order your operational and transactional data in consolidated, effective, and simple ways, which is exactly what DWs are about, moving away from error with easy-to-use technology. Managing one of today’s commercial DWs requires a technical database management application, like Microsoft SQL Server Visual Studio or Solver’s system for warehouse management, called the BI360 Data Warehouse Manager, which is an easy-to-use interface that is positioned within the BI360 Suite.
Implementing a DW. In terms of deploying and automating the software, commercial DW solutions typically come “out of the box,” which means a simple implementation, then a replication of your organizational data from Dynamics GP and any other data sources. A consultant who focuses on extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of your data will install your DW, then automate the ETL process from your data sources. The best investment would be a DW that delivers a pre-built integration right to GP. Once ETL is complete, a consultant with expertise in optimizing and streamlining your financial reporting, budgeting, and data visualization tasks will demonstrate how to pull data from your DW to produce richer financial statements, strategies, and dashboards that you need to make strong decisions about the future of your non-profit organization. We are happy to report that once the DW is configured and your team is trained, business end users across the organization can oversee the technology without having to ask IT for help.
To continue learning more about data warehousing for non-profits using Dynamics GP, read the rest of this article here.