Convert FRx Reports to Management Reporter or Look for Alternative Options?

Now that Microsoft has retired FRx, report conversions have become a checklist item for replacing the retired financial report writer.  This article will discuss FRx report conversions and the third party reporting tools offering FRx upgrades.

The era of FRx is over – and has officially been over for a little while.  On this blog, I have written about how to replace the Microsoft financial report writer – and the costs associated with that task.  But now, as companies are moving away from FRx, replacing it with Microsoft’s successor, Management Reporter (MR), or even already replacing MR, there is a demand for converting the financial reports created in FRx to the selected new solution.  Logically, some software manufacturers anticipated this and produced a conversion tool, ensuring that the transition in reporting is more automated.  However, as some companies may still be procrastinating with replacing FRx, there is probably a general confusion about options to make this upgrade.  In this article, I’m going to discuss the routes for FRx conversion, so that if you haven’t participated in this important task or have moved on, but still holding on to FRx because you don’t know how to convert your old reports, you will be aware of your options.

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Let’s first tackle MR since I know a lot of people went to Microsoft’s replacement, probably by default.  If you are in this boat, you might already know that MR comes with automatic conversions of FRx reports.  MR is the follow up to FRx, and the two products are very similar, with perhaps the main exception being an updated main user menu and some minor feature enhancements (and loss of certain features), so this conversion is not necessarily rocket science.  However, the real frustration with MR is the all too familiar limited features and functionalities.  It is still a proprietary interface, so the familiarity of Excel is not there.  The conversions assist this update, but MR is arguably not much of an upgrade with only providing basic GL reporting, but you can feel pretty confident that your FRx reports will come with you using this financial report writer.

True upgrades from FRx come in the form of Excel-based report writers, like Jet Reports, BizNet, F9, and BI360.  With the exception of F9, these report writers are already in a league of their own because they offer sub-ledger reporting.  Some of them
can report on a few sub-ledgers, while others have extensive integrations across most – or all ERP sub-ledgers.  Additionally, because the aforementioned reporting tools are all powered by Excel, for FRx “report conversion,” they simply require you to export your FRx reports to Excel.  From there, you will add in your own formatting and any formula fixes, so the relics of FRx don’t hold you back when you access or adjust any FRx reports in the Excel.  From then on, you will run the reports directly within Excel using the add-in ribbon for the business intelligence (BI) analysis.  Again, not all of these options feel like true upgrades from FRx.

Out of these report writers that are FRx and MR alternatives, there are a couple outliers.  When it comes to F9, besides the fact that it is an Excel add-in and there’s been a recent uptick in its popularity, it is a basic GL report writer.  Some partners I have spoken to have attributed their resurgence in relevance, after FRx having been around for nearly a couple decades, to a general feeling of disappointment in the long awaited MR.  Unfortunately, all you’re getting from investing in the mature F9 is an Excel GL-only platform versus the free FRx or MR, when you can be getting so much more, especially if you are already willing to invest in a third party reporting product.

Solver’s BI360 has a complete FRx conversion tool coming in the second half of 2014, in addition to other elements that make it more flexible for the mid-market companies moving away from underwhelming report writing solutions.  I think it is fair to say that these older products, some retiring like FRx and some still in the spotlight like F9, were not built in the context of today’s fast-paced, big data, around the clock, global business demands of today.  That said, when you embark on converting your FRx reports to a new application, you might as well move to a product like BI360 that offers the hybridity of Excel and web- and mobile-based reporting, data warehouse and/or live integrations from the Enterprise Resource Planning system.  The web capabilities have become increasingly more valuable to companies as Cloud computing in general has become popular, most likely due to its practicality in the global marketplace.  However, usually products are one or the other.

One product that has focused on FRx conversions exclusively online is ReportFYI.  Made by FYIsoft, ReportFYI has a couple things going for it, when it comes to marketing its product.  For customers who knew FRx like the back of their hand, ReportFYI is proud to showcase that it is extremely similar to the retired Microsoft offering, especially when it comes to formulas, formatting and the organization of rows and columns.  This is perhaps largely possible because some of the creators of ReportFYI were part of the FRx team, and they have taken it into the 21st century.

Instead of moving into the world of Excel, ReportFYI developers capitalized on the idea that their targeted customers were very comfortable operating FRx, including the proprietary formatting and interface.  While developers assumed customers were not interested in learning a new set of product formulas, they did take note of the demand in the marketplace for web for secure accessibility around the globe and across time zones.  It is the pairing of the FRx familiarity with the near necessity of web accessibility that makes this product a competitive player on the market and in the context of FRx conversions and pure GL reporting.  Additionally, their web site mentions that they only charge a flat fee for conversions, no matter how many reports they convert.  However, again, if you are willing to invest time and money into an FRx replacement, it will probably be worth it to consider something with more flexibility and more power.

In the end, even though this article is about FRx conversions, maybe another important takeaway should be that replacing FRx should be an upgrade.  The conversions are an important feature to look for, but consider data integration methods, sub-ledger reporting, Cloud-based and/or on-premises, and the option for a comprehensive suite of BI tools, including a mobile application for reporting, budgeting and dashboards, before making an investment.  There are several affordable solutions on the market that will potentially deliver a much bigger return on your investment because they are a true upgrade.  Solver offers an Excel, web and/or mobile-based reporting module stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s FRx conversion options for a transition to modern reporting and Business Intelligence capabilities in the post-FRx era.

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