Better insight = better decisions. How Sage Intelligence Reporting creates customers for life

I had the pleasure of running a panel discussion at Sage Summit 2016 entitled Better insight = Better decisions with three of our most loyal Sage Intelligence Reporting customers. They were as follows; Dennis E. Donovan, the director of Finance and Information Management for Belmont House, Allan Brown, the senior accountant for Avatar Corporation, and John Corcoran, the director of Marketing and Information Systems at Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation. In this session, we discussed the reporting challenges they faced, and the Sage Intelligence reports they have used to overcome them.

Although they all work in very different industries, from caring for the elderly to the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and fire sprinklers, there were a few common reporting challenges they all faced prior to being introduced to Sage Intelligence Reporting. All three had limited access to information, they were spending hours creating manual reports that were then always outdated, and there was no simple way to access and/ or distribute reports.

By introducing Sage Intelligence Reporting, they now have full control of their information and are able to provide the relevant stakeholders in their business with the right information, at the right time, and where needed, easily drill down to the detail.

“It’s changed my life!” says Allan Brown.


Getting to know our customers

Dennis is a Sage 300 customer who is a huge advocate of Sage Intelligence Reporting. This is because our product has been able to save him a substantial amount of time when pulling and formatting his reports. He shared a payroll report with us, showing dollars and hours, that he has always wanted but previously would have been too much of a tedious process to create. This report helps his Senior Management team control not only labor costs, but also hours, ensuring they have sufficient coverage and are on plan. It highlights where they are in terms of staffing hours, and helps them to see if they can assign more hours later in the year. Read more about Dennis’s experience with Intelligence Reporting.

Allan is a Sage 500 customer who has progressed from Excel (copying and pasting) alone, to FRx, to Sage 500 Intelligence Reporting, which he deems, “Is the greatest thing since sliced bread!” Allan demonstrated how he has included additional information into his financial pack because of Intelligence Reporting, adding value to his board pack by allowing the board to analyse the top 10 customers, items shipped, net sales, and items sold by sales rep.  They can then quickly filter the report to view the details by sales person, item class, or for a particular period—making use of Excel slicers.  Read more about Allan’s success with Intelligence Reporting.

John had a different story to tell us. Unlike Allan and Dennis, who are accountants that have upskilled themselves to create and manage the reporting requirements internally, John identified a gap for the outside sales and engineering employees of his sales team who don’t have access to the ERP environment to get near real-time information. This could then be scaled to the applicable device suitable to them at the time. While they were able to structure a solid foundation within Sage from which to provide timely business intelligence, Microsoft PowerBI and GetFreshBI (a Sage Intelligence report writing company) were essential in delivering above and beyond the expectations of their team.  John’s team now have timely information of sales/quantity/ASP by product, which is role-based, scalable between devices, and can be exported to Excel reports to do a details analysis. Read more about John’s unique reporting setup.

9 best reporting practices from our customers

After hearing how each of them have used Intelligence Reporting to improve the insights they gain in each of their companies, I challenged the three of them to come up with 9 best reporting practices for someone looking for a reporting solution, and this is what they had to say:

  1. Understand your business, as well as your colleagues’, requirements and skills
    The starting point is understanding what information your colleagues are trying to access, in what format, and what your internal skills are in the business. Are you looking to upskill yourself on a reporting solution that you will operate internally? Or are you looking for a business partner’s assistance in providing you with the relevant solution, and then customize the reports to suit your company’s reporting requirements?
  1. Know the reporting solutions at your disposal
    Chat to your Sage advisor, as well as friends, and research online to get a good understanding of the reporting solutions available to you for your Sage solution. You should also check out what the various packages include, who supports the solution, and what others have to say about the different solutions. The fact that Sage Intelligence Reporting is a Sage product, with some of the licenses included as part of the business care bundle, and that it is supported by Sage, made it a very appealing solution to all three of these gentlemen.
  1. Structure your data and build a process to maintain it
    Sage Intelligence Reporting (as well as any other BI/reporting solution) is only as good as the information you put into your Sage solution, or any other database you are reporting off. John explained that in Globe Fire’s case, their data attributes were structured for manufacturing/production, and NOT for sales and marketing analysis. As part of their project, they created User Defined Fields (UDFs) to provide both hierarchical analysis and standalone attributes for approximately 5000 finished goods x 6 product attributes.
  1. Take advantage of Sage Intelligence resources
    Sage Intelligence Reporting have a suit of complementary resources available to help you get started including:
    – Comprehensive how-to videos
    – Live and recorded webcasts
    – Subscriptions to Sage Intelligence and Excel tips and tricks
    – A Library of additional Sage Intelligence reports which are easily imported into your Report Manager using the Report Utility
    – Or invest in the interactive online Sage Intelligence Reporting and Excel courses available on
  1. Don’t be afraid to play around with your data
    You can’t damage the data in Sage by using the Intelligence Reporting module, or break Excel, so play around and get familiar with the program and your data.
  1. Dream beyond your current EXCEL skills
    There are people who are intimidated by the fact that Excel is the front end for Sage Intelligence Reporting. Dennis assures you, “You can learn the HOW as you go! Design the reports you want, not what you can program.” There is a lot of Excel help available. And the weekly Excel tips and tricks that Sage send out are a great start.
  1. Run out the standard reports
    Start by running out the standard reports that ship with Sage Intelligence Reporting to see if any of these reports meet your company needs. If not, then start with a blank sheet and build up what you need making use of the data in sheet 1.
  1. Housekeeping tips
    Dennis Donovan’s tip was to always ‘SAVE EXCEL TEMPLATE’ back into Sage Intelligence—with any change to the structure or date fields. It’s always best to have the most recent file saved in Sage. John Corcoran’s tip was to put together a communications plan for your reporting project, including the timeline (phase-in and phase-out), training, roles and responsibilities. For Globe Sprinkler, this was a two-year project that has transformed their business. Allan Brown’s tip was to use the BIE views as your pointers when bringing additional data into your reports, as these show you where to look for what you need to create special containers.
  1. Engage and learn at Sage Summit
    All three gentlemen first heard about Sage Intelligence Reporting at Sage Summit, and attended the informative sessions to get them familiar with the software. They have been coming to Sage Summit every year since to continue their learning journey. They encourage all customers to come to summit and take advantage of the informative sessions.

It was overall a great experience to meet and engage with three of our most avid supporters. What made this even more worthwhile was noticing the major difference our product has made in their lives. It makes me wonder how many other customers we have out there who have similar success stories using Sage Intelligence Reporting. Have you got something special to share with us from your experience with our great product? Leave a comment below and we’ll get in touch!