When you have decisions to make but an overabundance of data, how can you make the best decision? This is where data warehousing can be helpful particularly for nonprofit organizations that pull data from multiple data sources. This article explains how a data warehouse can improve management and analyses of your information from Microsoft Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL or Dynamics NAV.

What Is a Data Warehouse? 

A data warehouse (DW) is a multi-dimensional database or a virtual storage unit that houses diverse transactional and operational data sets. Think of it this way: if you could add a third dimension to an Excel spreadsheet, you could organize all of your transactional and operational information. Management of DWs involves a technical database management system, like Boyer’s application for managing the warehouse, the BI360 Data Warehouse Manager.

How Do We Implement a Data Warehouse? 

DWs usually come “out of the box,” providing an easy implementation, followed by replicating your organizational information from Dynamics GP (SL or NAV should be assumed throughout the rest of this post) and any additional data sources. A consultant will deploy your DW and then automate the extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) process. It is best to invest in a DW that comes with a pre-built integration directly to GP. After ETL, a consultant will show you how to query data from your warehouse for the financial statements, budgets, and data visualizations you depend on to inform your decision-making. Once your DW is set up and your team is trained, you can manage the solution yourselves.

Do We Need a Data Warehouse? 

Fundraising has evolved significantly to include mobile and online giving, social media campaigns, e-newsletters, and more, each producing data that you have to consolidate. DWs can help you save time and money, eliminating errors and hours of manual documentation. Furthermore, if your Dynamics GP server is sluggish because you have users pulling substantial data sets, a DW provides a higher performance and stability without slowing down the ERP system or operational databases.

How Do We Manage Our Data Warehouse? 

Business end users can manage today’s commercial DWs. Setting up and automating the replication process is easy. You can also query data with the click of a button. Since many DWs are Microsoft SQL Server relational databases, ordered by topic, like administration costs, donors, grants, and volunteers, you don’t have to involve IT. Data warehousing organically offers cross module financial and analytical functionality. They usually do not involve concurrency control mechanisms, transactional processing, or recovery. DWs typically come with built-in attributes and dimension trees, adjustment functions like currency conversions, integration techniques, eliminations, and data cleansing to deliver more streamlined processes. You can also use a DW to help migrate your data from an older ERP to Dynamics GP.

Data will continue to grow in size and importance for decision-making processes. DWs let you pull your diverse data and systems from where your information comes into one space to expand your financial reporting, budgeting, and dashboards. If you’d like to rely on one system to consolidate all of your data into a singular, high performing place without depending on IT to manage the technology, DWs can provide that solution.