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How to make better executive decisions with Microsoft Dynamics.

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

Microsoft Dynamics is an excellent business application, but the intelligence you get out of it about your business is only as good - and as complete - as the data put into it. Just as with any other ERP, your information must be in (or accessible from) the Dynamics database.

Most of your information is in an unstructured format and is unmanaged. Unfortunately, your organization is full of unstructured information—information that is not in (or accessible from) your Dynamics database. Numerous sources, including Merrill Lynch and , have estimated that unstructured information accounts for 80% - 90% of all data in organizations. And as much as 90% of this unstructured information is unmanaged —meaning it’s stored in filing cabinets, in offsite storage, on people’s hard drives, in their individual email archive, and on the network file share. In other words, it’s not available to you, the executive. This means you’re making critical business decisions based on as little as 19% of applicable information (100% - (90% unstructured * 90% unmanaged).

What is unstructured data and how do you structure and manage it? “Unstructured data” is a term often used to describe information that doesn’t have a predefined data model or does not fit well into relational tables.  Emails, social media, RSS feeds, paper, PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and audio and video files are all examples of unstructured data. Nowhere is the proliferation of unstructured data as problematic as it is in a typical AP department.  Invoices come into most AP departments in paper form as well as in many different electronic formats (PDF, spreadsheet, etc.) and via many different delivery methods – by email, by fax, by regular mail. Unlike EDI, this sort of information will never conform to a single format that can be readily processed by Dynamics. When a large volume of documents (invoices, bills of lading, packing slips, etc.) are processed and stored outside your Dynamics system, your analytics will give you incomplete (at best) or false (at worst) readings on critical statistics. How complete and accurate are your reports that measure things such as productivity per FTE and cost per invoice if they don’t have visibility into as much as 81% of the universe of relevant information? Fortunately, there is an easy fix. You can easily convert unstructured data into structured data and, in turn, proactively manage and report against this unstructured information by implementing a document management add-on to your Dynamics system. Document management functionality allows you to capture the data that’s hidden in unstructured media such as paper documents and electronic formats such as email and email attachments. Higher end document management add-ons also provide optical character recognition (OCR)  to extract data contained in documents and emails and add it to the Dynamics database automatically. These add-ons also provide electronic workflow capabilities that let you route and approve the documents and email more efficiently. Bringing all of these capabilities to bear (and the information they produce) can dramatically increase how accurately and efficiently your organization processes its transactions. With the right document management solution, you can extend this accuracy and efficiency into areas far beyond the AP department, including sales, inventory, manufacturing, services, etc. By structuring and managing your organization’s unstructured, unmanaged information, you not only make your organization faster and more efficient, it also ensures you—the executive responsible for making the best decisions—have all the facts on a timely basis to make these decisions. <h3><b>And the fix can give you a powerful competitive advantage.

A study conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc., found that 91% of its respondents say unstructured information lives in their organizations, and many aren’t sure what to do about it. These are your competitors. You, as a Microsoft Dynamics user, have a great opportunity to separate yourself from your competition by making decisions based on all of the information in your organization and by reducing the cost required to process it. For example, after embedding our technologies into their ERP solution, one of our customers improved their AP operations to the point where they were recognized by The Hackett Group as being among the top 2% of accounts payable departments worldwide. What a great competitive advantage! If you’re interested in making better executive decisions and driving competitive advantages for your organization, talk to your Dynamics partner and take a look at our solution, Datahaven for Dynamics.


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