NHV Group is one of the largest European helicopter operators. The Group (with HQ in Belgium) has a strong geographic presence in the North Sea and Western Africa.
NHV is specialized in transport of crews and loads to and from oil & gas platforms, transport of harbour pilots, transport of crew and supplies to wind turbines, search and rescue operations, medical repatriation and organ transport. The company was established in 1997 and currently operates in 9 different countries on 2 continents (Europe and Africa).
NHV decided in 2019 to switch their accounting software to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. With the move to Business Central they also wanted to implement a new reporting solution. The traditional financial reporting based on exports to Excel had to be changed to a modern, dynamic, up-to-date dashboarding solution. Budget was also going to be maintained in Business Central and therefore an important requirement was to be able to easily compare actuals with budget.
NHV does transactions in a number of currencies and wished to view financial reports in local currency, transaction currency, and EUR. With a simple slicer they wanted to be able to quickly switch between the different currencies. For the conversion to EUR a year-to-date exchange rate had to be used which required some additional logic.
In Business Central they have a dimension code which needed to be split up in four parts (country, base, segment, department). They wanted to have an application be able to do the split-up themselves for every code.
As they did not want to transfer data from their old accounting system to Business Central, the historical data had to be transferred directly to the data warehouse in order to be able to report on historical data to have continued trend analysis.
After seeing different candidates NHV opted for the Dynamics Business Central / NAV BI “Out-of-the-Box” solution from element61.
The Business Central / NAV BI “Out-of-the-Box” solution is a pre-packaged Business Intelligence solution - based on Navision / Business Central as a source – providing dozens of viewpoints on business data. The solution works for all versions of Navision and Business Central, allowing to integrate data very rapidly from Navision and Business Central in a data warehouse.
The prepackaged data warehouse of the solution was set up using standard Microsoft technology. Microsoft’s own ETL (extract, transform and load) tool SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) was used to load data from source to staging and from staging to data warehouse.
As a reporting and dashboarding tool Power BI was chosen. Microsoft Power BI offers interactive visualizations, a simple user interface making it easy for users to create their own reports, and allows easy sharing of reports via the cloud.
To add data from the previous system, they did a one-time export to Excel from the old system. This Excel file was loaded into the data warehouse and was integrated with the Business Central data. This allows them to see old data and Business Central data within the same reporting solution.
Interactive reports were created based on NHV’s needs. An income statement and balance sheet were created based on the provided layout from NHV. A slicer was added allowing them to easily view the figures in local currency, transaction currency, and EUR. Also measures were added allowing them to easily compare actuals with budget.
For the conversion to EUR it was important to use a year-to-date (YTD) exchange rate. With YTD exchange rates a correction is needed every month following the month of the transaction. If we have a transaction for 100 USD at an exchange rate of 0.9 in January and the exchange rate is 0.8 in February, than in February there has to be a correction of -10 (0.8 * 100 - 0.9 * 100). This had to be done for every month and was implemented using SQL.
To split up the dimension code in four parts an app was created using Microsoft PowerApps. PowerApps allows users to create apps without using any code. Because no code has to be used the app was set up very quickly. The app was integrated into the data warehouse allowing users to do the mapping in PowerApps and have it automatically synced with the reporting solution.
Development was done using the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack.
Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Standard is used as backend:
- Microsoft SQL Server for database engine
- Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services for ETL
- Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular as cube technology
For the mapping of the dimension codes Microsoft PowerApps was used.
In the front-end Power BI was used to create interactive reports and dashboards. The Tabular model can also be accessed through Microsoft Excel and Reporting Services.
Role of element61
element61 was responsible for the following activities:
- Installation and configuration of all standard components of the Dynamics Business Central / NAV BI “Out-of-the-Box”, delivered in 3 working days by module
- Building the Tabular model for analysis
- Creating first set of reports and dashboards in Power BI
element61 is a Gold Microsoft Partner in Data Analytics, Data Platform and Cloud Platform.
The new reporting solution gives NHV a good view on their financial data. The Power BI reports created helps managers and employees spend less time tracking down information and can focus on Power BI reports have been developed with the most relevant data so they can act quickly. Having data from their old accounting software and from Business Central in one central data warehouse allows them to analyse trends.
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