Microsoft 365 Solutions and Data-Driven Decision-Making for Greenhouse Growers

In this article, learn how greenhouse growers can use Power BI for data-driven decision in their operations.

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    To make effective business decisions, greenhouse managers and frontline staff need access to accurate data in real time. Otherwise, the resulting actions from those decisions will be off-target, or the information will arrive too late for the actions to have the desired impact.

    Many growers have solved these data-access challenges by turning to SilverLeaf running on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. As a comprehensive enterprise resource platform—tailored specifically for horticulture businesses—this combination delivers hundreds of pre-built reports to assist all operational areas.

    But just like any other business, each grower has unique ways to manage operations and day-to-day business workflows. They need specific views into their data to measure how well the business is performing and determine where changes are needed. Each job role also has specific and varying data requirements—from the owner to the CFO and those managing sales, procurement, and production. The frontline staff needs to see yet another set of reports.

    Dynamics 365 CE includes various modules that cover key aspects of customer engagement, including: Sales—This application helps sales teams manage leads, opportunities, and customer relationships. It provides features for tracking sales activities, automating sales processes, and analyzing performance. Customer Service—CE’s customer service application enables organizations to deliver efficient and effective customer support. It includes case management features, knowledge base building, omnichannel communication features, and self-service options. Customer Insights—Dynamics 365 Customer Insights helps your organization deliver exceptional customer experiences. It lays the foundation to create truly personalized, responsive, and connected customer journeys across sales, marketing, and service teams. Dynamics 365 CE is designed to break down silos between departments and provide a holistic view of customer interactions. It helps businesses improve customer satisfaction, streamline processes, and make informed decisions based on data.

    Deliver Accurate Data in Real Time with Power BI

    To give all internal teams the accurate data they need in real time, Velosio helps greenhouse growers further enhance the capabilities of SilverLeaf by tapping into the Microsoft Power BI reporting tool. With the ability to present high-level data via custom dashboards that users can drill into for detailed data, Power BI makes it easier to track business performance, create strategic plans, and make profitable decisions on how the business should operate.

    Here’s a sampling of the types of Power BI dashboards that can assist with managing your greenhouse business:

    • Inventory—Gain visibility into the current quantities of your on-hand inventory to identify surpluses and shortages as well as the current value and cost of your inventory to determine projected profits. You can break down the data by plant genus, growth stage, and location. You can also sort by genetics to see the origin of inventory and how well each plant type has grown.
    •  Production—View plants by different stages of growth and where plants are located. Also project the capacity of work centers (machines and people) to process plants and get them ready for delivery to customers. Also know how many resources to schedule and measure employee piecework productivity.
    •  Financials—Produce high-level dashboards that various stakeholders can drill into. This includes presentation-ready financials for senior management, investors, and the board—while also providing department heads with information to analyze the performance of their teams.
    •  Sales—Compare the performance of regions or locations, and drill into the information to understand why one area might be experiencing a spike in sales while the numbers lag for another. This helps determine if trends are due to sales team performance, a change in market conditions, or a change in the growing climate. Performance can be sorted by product codes and product categories to determine why products, customers, and salespeople over-perform and under-perform.

    Ultimately, the visual capabilities of Power BI make it easier to communicate business performance because you can tailor reports so audiences can consume information more easily. You can also answer the need for each functional area to access specific information with the ability to present self-service dashboards that users can slice and dice any way they want.

    Getting Started with Power BI for Greenhouse Growers

    Velosio recommends Power BI over other reporting tools because of how seamlessly it integrates with SilverLeaf and Business Central. With Power BI running behind the scenes, your users will think it’s just another set of reports coming out of your base ERP system.

    And with our experience in the grower market, we have a good handle on what greenhouse operators need. We have created template Power BI reports you can start with so you don’t have to build reports from scratch.

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    To take what we’ve started and tweak the reports to meet your specific needs, you will need a user license to create and modify Power BI reports, but all your SilverLeaf users can view and drill down into the reports without any additional licenses. We suggest designating a power user who learns how to create the reports, or we can assist you.

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    As you get to know Power BI, you will generate metrics that will accelerate your business decisions. You will also gain greater agility in addressing new questions about business performance that tend to pop up just about every month.

    If you missed the first two blogs in our Turning Technology into a Competitive Advantage for Greenhouse Growers series, be sure to check out Production Planning and Production Execution as well as How Microsoft 365 Solutions Drive Efficiency. And for more information on how SilverLeaf can help your business operate more efficiently, contact Velosio today.


    Sara Silver

    Director of Horticulture Solutions, Velosio

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