Best Report Writers for Microsoft Dynamics NAV

As a Dynamics NAV user, you should know the functionalities and key features of modern financial reporting tools available on the market today so that you can select the best tool to enhance Dynamics NAV and meet your Business Intelligence needs by generating sophisticated analytical reports.

In today’s business culture, a powerful financial reporting solution is vital for any organization that is dedicated to developing into a competitive, well established corporation.  This article will explore the variety of options and available features, so that you can select the best financial reporting tool to meet your company or finance team’s needs and goals using Microsoft Dynamics NAV as the core data source.

Financial reporting software creates tailored reports pulling financial figures from a data source, whether that be live from Microsoft Dynamics NAV or your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, or from a data warehouse or an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube.  Microsoft equipped NAV with its own built-in report designer, just called Report Writer, but there’s a lot of modern Independent Software Vendor (ISV) reporting tools on the market that users are employing.  These third party solutions are empowering finance teams to build reusable, personalized report templates that respond to company decision-makers’ needs to comprehend the organization’s health and then, make educated plans to move forward.  It seems like a lot of people tend to default to the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) stack or Jet Reports when moving beyond NAV’s Report Writer, but there is too much to gain to move robotically toward any solution.  Consider data source access choices to proprietary software versus Excel or web-based platforms and the business user friendliness of the product, among other things.

Data integration should be a fundamental aspect to consider when investing in a financial report writer.  You should evaluate whether the reporting tool pulling data from a data warehouse, an OLAP cube, or some other proprietary staged data source or running live from Dynamics NAV is more beneficial to your specific company needs.  Live integrations translates to real-time analysis directly from the Dynamics NAV server.  Moreover, it means that you won’t have to make sure company data is replicated to a separate database to access up-to-date information.

A data storage source will cost you more money, whether you purchase a fully built data warehouse or in the development and management of an OLAP cube. However, depending on how many users are running queries in Dynamics to create reports and how large the data queries are, it could create an inconvenient slow-down for everyone involved.

Solver’s BI360 and Jet Reports both offer live integrations to Dynamics NAV and other Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, while most reporting software only provide the choice to create reports pulling from a data storage source.  In addition to deciding whether it makes sense to rely on live integration versus a data warehouse or OLAP, it is also smart for you to weigh the reporting tool platform options.

How big of an Excel fan would you say that you and your co-workers are?  Some ISVs are selling non-Excel report writers and positing that Excel is a mess when it comes to linking and maintaining spreadsheet securely.  However, if you’re like most financial team members that I have met, you have been using Excel since college, if not high school.  The formulas and general formatting of Excel are back-of-your-hand familiar in the finance world.  Moreover, Excel report writers are add-in ribbons that accelerate the spreadsheet tool with functionalities that focus on collaboration, security, and accounting functions.  Solver’s BI360 and Jet Reports offer database-driven Excel add-ins, simplifying the learning curve for business users, but without the issues of manual Excel reporting processes.  Now, while Excel is surely an established institution in accounting and finance departments worldwide, Cloud computing and web portals are undeniably the future.

Web-based software, when hosted by a third party provider is also known as Cloud computing, allows for accessible, secure data storage with anywhere you have an Internet connection.  In the report writing world, financial reports can be crafted and run online in a web browser, hosting collaborative analysis, with drill-down capabilities.  In general, the pure Cloud reporting solutions almost always pull their data from their own OLAP cubes or data warehouses, so real-time analysis is not an option, unlike with some hybrid Cloud, Excel-powered report writers.

Today’s business world is increasingly more around the globe and around the clock, so organizations have to be made up of many moving parts across time zones and coordinates.  In this context, web reporting makes the most sense, especially when you have employees often connecting to their company network remotely.  Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics, and Prophix offer proprietary web reporting platforms, while Solver’s BI360 offers the hybrid opportunity to design the reports in Excel, while end users can run the reports in Excel, in the web browser or on a native app on their mobile devices.  Web is undeniably attractive, but in terms of constructing a report, I always say that ease of use and flexibility might be the most important qualities, regardless of your other feature decisions.  Otherwise, if you can’t design the specific reports your management team needs, what good is the report writer platform?

We basically don’t even go to bed without our phones nearby, so it makes sense that mobile reporting is now in the game as well.  Even though you cannot currently design financial reports on mobile applications, you can already find mobile report viewing that that provides drill-down capabilities into Dynamics NAV.  There are already a number of mobile dashboards so financial report apps are an organic progression for BI manufacturers.

We’re inseparable with our smartphones as they hold both our personal and professional lives in one device.  As this is not a comprehensive reporting tool, you should seek out a financial reporting module that meets your organization’s specific needs first – and then, perceive the mobile app as a bonus – for now, anyway.  More vendors will offer a mobile application as smart phones have infiltrated our lives, and the manufacturers that are already offering a mobile platform are ahead of the competition, based on the realities facing today’s finance team.

Shopping for the right financial reporting tool to enhance Dynamics NAV data management should involve the evaluation of company goals and needs.  It is a big investment and therefore, an important search.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Excel, web, and mobile platforms for real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis and collaboration, with the option of email distribution of reports, as the best report writer for Dynamic NAV.

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