BIO Chosen for Consolidations and Reporting for Microsoft Dynamics and Budget Data
Invenergy is one of the top six largest owners of wind generating facilities in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation facilities in North America and Europe. Invenergy is committed to clean power alternatives and continued innovation in electricity generation.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies have developed and placed in service in excess of twenty wind farms and five natural gas-fueled generating facilities. The aggregate capacity of these facilities is approximately five thousand megawatts, which can provide enough power for approximately two million homes.
The Need: Consolidations
Invenergy has a deep, complex, and ever-changing structure representing hundreds of legal entities representing individual operating companies and development projects before costs are segregated onto the books of separate companies. According to Jerry Levy, Vice President of Administration, consolidating all of these companies for financial and operational reporting and analysis was difficult and time-consuming. Within the structure were more than 250 monthly elimination entries. Consolidating balance sheets and income statements could take one hour each to run in FRx. Once the financial statements were run, they were exported into Excel, but they exceeded Excel’s width limits.
Marc Moskowitz of Business Productivity Solutions (BPS), Invenergy’s Microsoft Dynamics SL implementation partner, recommended BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics. Moskowitz had implemented a number of other BIO solutions and, based on the success of those projects, thought BIO would be the right fit for Invenergy. BIO provides specific functionality that Invenergy’s Levy was looking for: easy access to data, automatic updates, and the ability to tap into different fields and modules. Furthermore, Invenergy was looking for the flexibility to access appropriate data from different departments, and the ability to customize the drill-downs. Invenergy also wanted a simple way to create and modify multi-level organizational roll-ups of over one hundred legal entities that could be synchronized with Microsoft Dynamics SL. And the company wanted a tool that would help with tax returns and audits, eliminating the onerous task of manual assembly of information for these projects.
The Solution: BIO, Microsoft Dynamics SL, and Microsoft’s Forecaster Budgeting System
BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics was selected as a multi-purpose tool for consolidations, and reporting and analytics, simultaneously retrieving data from Microsoft Dynamics SL and Invenergy’s budgeting system. Mark Geibel, Senior Accounting Manager at Invenergy, was the initial user. He uses BIO to create consolidated financial statements, including consolidating balance sheets and income statements.
Next to jump on the BIO bandwagon were the tax folks. They use BIO to combine different entities and different time periods. In the past, this required running full trial balances, and then piecing together the needed information in Excel.
Then BIO expanded to the business development department. Invenergy’s business development team manages multiple projects in different stages. They scout project locations, enter into long-term easement agreements to test wind resources, manage the permitting process with various governmental and other entities, determine the feasibility of connecting to a particular power grid, and manage a variety of other initiatives within a project. BIO allows business development managers to review year-to-date and life-to-date spending on any or all of their projects, giving them the information they need to authorize project spending. They look mostly at trends and comparisons, including life-to-date spend; purchase orders authorized compared to amount already spent by project; and actual-versus-budget financial results by project.
The latest group to begin using BIO is the asset management group, the folks who manage projects once operational. They are looking at a bigger picture: actual-versus-budget financial and statistical results for multiple projects; operating expenses across projects; and trend reports and comparisons.
Invenergy had some very sophisticated challenges along the way. First, the company needed to figure out how best to organize its complex organizational structure within BIO, reflecting different elimination companies and consolidation points, along with various currencies.
Security also was an issue for Invenergy. The company needed to set up security groups to limit access across views, which are precompiled queries for frequently accessed data. Invenergy also needed to limit regional project access, so that only appropriate personnel could see historical project data.
A third requirement was to set up Dynaselects, timesaving bundles of reusable recorded keystrokes, so that when administrators add accounts, companies or vendors they are automatically added to existing reports.
Finally, financial statements needed to be created in BIO that mirrored the formats of those used previously to maintain compliance with complex accounting standards. Other reports also were created to meet the needs of different departments and managers, who view certain data in different ways. BIO provided a single solution that could handle complex financial and GAPP reporting, as well as operational analytics.
Marc Moskowitz was helpful in the design of the BIO infrastructure, leveraging his knowledge of BIO along with that of Invenergy. He worked with Invenergy to set up the hierarchies, report structure, and Dynaselects while leveraging what already existed in Microsoft Dynamics SL to assist with security requirements. Additionally, he advised Invenergy how to integrate BIO with different modules of Dynamics SL, and its budgeting system, to allow users to analyze whatever data they wanted.
BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics was designed flexibly enough so that once reports were created, users could easily modify them to view information that was important to them, whether by project, time period, account or activity.
Invenergy continues to grow, both financially and operationally. As a result, it outgrew its use of FRx and Excel for financial and operational reporting and analysis. BIO allows users to do things they could not do before, and saves valuable time each month by facilitating greater efficiently. BIO allows Invenergy to provide reports and information on a timely basis, which would not have been possible using previous applications.
The accounting group found BIO reporting for Microsoft Dynamics financial statements “helpful right out of the box,” so the team was able to get up and running quickly. The tax folks found BIO to be “incredibly helpful” for consolidations and for re-creating reports for different time periods. These groups save time because of the flexibility that allows them to change views and time periods and to look at the information they need with a click of the mouse. “There is no way we could do this on a timely basis before BIO,” says Geibel. “User acceptance is excellent. Currently just a core group of our employees uses BIO, but we expect that to continuously increase over time, as employees become more comfortable with the product and its capabilities.”
Invenergy plans to expand its use of BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics in several ways. Levy is looking forward to developing power users in the business development group, to better use BIO for project budgeting and cost analysis. The goal is to help identify earlier where project spending is excessive to better contain costs. Plus, Levy says, he expects to better train remote users to help them better utilize the system over the next year.