Financial Reporting for Microsoft Dynamics GP

It is imperative to have a head start in understanding the features and functionalities of financial report writers for Microsoft Dynamics GP, so you can adequately modernize and streamline your reporting processes.

In today’s business world, a modern financial reporting tool is vital in order to use the increasingly large amounts of data to make informed decisions about the future of your company.  However, the number of options for professionals can be overwhelming, especially on top of the growing list of responsibilities we have to complete to remain competitive.  This article will explore and discuss features and functionalities for your consideration when looking to upgrade your report writing tool for Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Financial reporting refers to creating customized reports with transactional and operational data, whether it is directly from Dynamics GP or from an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or data warehouse.   There are several options, including GP’s own native reporting module, Report Writer, the retired FRx or Management Reporter (MR).  In fact, there are many tools that come with GP, including Smartlist, SSRS, Analysis Cubes, PowerBI, and more, that make for simply too many tools to learn, yet none of them are the right tool as a single, universal report writer that goes across all GP modules, are user friendly for design, and also offer web and mobile end user options and great formatting. On the other hand, third party manufacturers are excelling in this customer-driven era, offering powerful reporting tools that empower finance teams to build reusable, customizable report templates that zoom in on the range of analytics that aid decision-making for corporate growth.  In the search for a modern reporting tool, you should consider data integration options, proprietary versus Excel and/or web-based interfaces, ease of use, among other things.

 

The Microsoft BI stack has been around for a while now, but if you do a simple search on the internet, you will find loads of articles discussing disappointment in the limitations of the sometimes General Ledger exclusive, non-Excel, non-web reporting that the built-in Report Writer and both FRx and MR offer users. One could advocate these reporting options are free, but you are getting what you pay for with these proprietary platforms.  If you want a true upgrade for your reporting procedures and are willing to invest in a product, there are plenty of business user friendly solutions that offer professionally formatted sub ledger reporting, live integrations, and web and mobile access for flexibility.

The first facet to consider should arguably be how you plan to integrate and query your data.  When shopping for a financial report writer, take note of whether you are integrating exclusively live from GP or a data storage source, or do you have the flexibility to do either?  Reporting live from GP translates to real-time analysis, but might slow down the server depending on the number of users and the size of the query.  FRx, MR, BizNet, and Solver’s BI360 offer live integration to Dynamics GP, as well as other data sources, while lots of reporting tools exclusively pull data from the higher performance option of data storage sources.

Data storage sources, like OLAP cubes and data warehouses, are more stable, but are not the most flexible.  If your company is larger and multiple users are simultaneously going to pull data from GP, a data storage source would be ideal when it comes to analysis.  However, it does require replication of your company information to the staging site.  Furthermore, there are a few products that offer you the flexibility to integrate either way.  Moving on, you should think about the ease of use – for you and your associates.

Excel has long been established as most finance teams’ favorite software, but is it keeping up in the fast lane of business today?  Some third party software manufacturers posit that Excel is a problem in terms of securely linking spreadsheets.  Usually, these anti-Excel voices are hawking their own proprietary interfaced products.  On the flip side, the familiarity of Excel cannot be undervalued.  Some Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) have accelerated the spreadsheet application by building Excel add-ins that boast secure collaboration and accounting logic.  While FRx and MR aren’t Excel-based, tools like F9, BizNet, and Solver’s BI360 are all Excel add-ins, simplifying the software implementation and utilization.  As established as Excel is, web and mobile reporting is definitely the future, if not the present already.

Web-powered reporting solutions, sometimes referred to as Cloud BI solutions if they are hosted in the cloud, offer the flexibility of access to your data anywhere you have an internet connection.  If you have your laptop in the lobby of a client or at your airport terminal, you can access and drill-down into your company data for on-the-go decision-making.  This flexibility is a direct response to the increasingly global marketplace and travel responsibilities.  In this context of collaborative ownership in the future of a company, flexible access outside of the office is becoming more of a necessity for a lot of companies. Adaptive Insights and Host Analytics both offer pure Cloud reporting solutions, while BI360 offers a hybrid experience of interchangeability between the Excel platform and a web portal.  And web was the gateway to mobile reporting.

Web reporting organically paved the way for mobile reporting applications.  A few ISVs offer mobile applications that allow for data analysis anywhere you have your smartphone and/or tablet.  Mobile reporting and dashboards are becoming a priority for the truly on-the-go corporate decision-makers, but are currently somewhat restricted in the context of maximizing the experience given the size of the screen.  Since you cannot currently design reports on the few mobile applications on the market, look for the report writer that best fits your goals, and let the mobile application be a unique perk – for now anyway.  As a concept, mobility is going to continue becoming more and more important to professionals, so those ISVs already armed with mobile reporting are ahead of the curve – in terms of developing the product to meet modern customer needs.

Shopping for the right financial reporting tool to enhance your Microsoft Dynamics GP experience should be about assessing the unique needs of your company and specifically, those who are responsible for generating reports.  While it can be a complex process, it is an important one.  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 GP.

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