Replacing FRx and Management Reporter with Cloud Reporting for Microsoft Dynamics

Cloud Reporting for IntacctThis article explores the cloud reporting options you have for replacing FRx and Management Reporter.

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to believe that some companies might still be using FRx, as the product was retired by Microsoft – and replaced with Management Reporter (MR) – years ago. But MSDynamicsWorld.com recently hosted a webinar about replacing either, and hundreds of registrants attended. When I zoom out and think about process overhauls or technology replacements that I have been a part of, for the most part, they generally haven’t happened rapidly. Also, we’re all regularly in the trenches of our jobs, in this case producing reports or consolidating company financials for an understanding of company health, so taking the time to research, watch demos, have calls with sales folks, and test the power and viability of a new product can be tough. But as companies look to replace FRx and MR and at the same time prepare for a future move to a cloud ERP system, we’re seeing a lot of finance departments take the first leap by implementing a modern cloud reporting and budgeting solution, proving that a true business improvement momentum is building in the enterprise technology sector. This article will discuss the power of cloud reporting options not only to replace FRx and MR, but also as a strategic catalyst for a bigger picture cloud technology migration.

Let’s start with this: Microsoft is such a strong technology innovator, but most who have used one or both of them can agree that FRx and MR are not the best tools for the demands of best-in-class finance departments, both in terms of user friendliness and flexibility. For a company that has the ubiquitous Excel on its roster, it has always been a mystery why Microsoft didn’t incorporate Excel and its familiar formulas, formatting, and coding into their financial reporting software. But no software vendor can create a tool that solves every company’s “problems.” Thus, FRx and MR, as basically free offerings, have been a reminder that “you get what you pay for.” And there is another development that is picking up momentum which you should definitely consider as you go about replacing FRx or MR and overhauling your reporting processes: the cloud.

Cloud is not just consumer electronics and a sometimes funny question mark in pop culture, but has become an important, if not the biggest shift to date in enterprise technology. Let’s use cell phones as an example – and look at before and after the cloud. Before the cloud, when your phone became glitchy because you had bogged down the storage or the technology had aged, you simply had to get a new phone. But, because of cloud technologies, Apple can send an update right to your phone. The same applies for cloud enterprise technology, which makes cloud attractive to both the vendor and the customer. This attractiveness has made for a momentum tsunami, disrupting the on-premises deployments of tools like financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, HR and payroll, marketing automation, site visit analytics, event management programs, support desk ticketing systems, and so on. And in terms of financial reporting, as it is positioned within the corporate performance management (CPM) software category, a cloud tool can actually function as a great foundation as you navigate a roadmap toward a “cloud-ier” portfolio of systems.

If you’re in the market for an FRx or MR replacement, you’re probably wanting more than what you’re used to if you’re going to make an investment. That means you are probably at least looking for both Excel functionality for professional financial statements and sub-ledger analysis. Of course, your company wants a tool that is business user friendly for self-service analytics, collaborative as reporting is beneficial across departments, and secure, so sensitive data doesn’t get into the wrong hands. But you should also be looking to the future and acknowledging not only the technology evolution toward cloud, but also: what other tools or processes are next on your list for upgrading – and what can this investment do to support those goals?

If you pick the right cloud reporting tool, you can lay a strong foundation not just for rich reporting, but also data management and streamlining processes in the hybrid on-premises and cloud transitional world we live in. More specifically, if you also invest in a modern, pre-built, configurable data warehouse solution to support your financial reporting, which can be seamlessly achieved with a CPM suite, then you leverage that high performance database to connect and consolidate multiple, diverse data sources into one place. You can combine your on-premises Microsoft Dynamics ERP with your cloud HR and CRM tool, like for example ADP and Salesforce, to create reports.

For most companies, the flexibility of a hybrid offering makes the most sense. Pure cloud solutions include Host Analytics and Adaptive Insights, while Solver’s BI360 can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises. Furthermore, BI360 is an Excel-powered, web-based suite of CPM tools that include financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and a data warehouse. There are more options in the marketplace, but if you’re going to replace FRx and MR – and spending the time, money, and energy of researching your options, you might as well aim for a true upgrade and an easy-to-use, powerful solution as opposed to just a replacement. If you’re hoping to achieve modern, deep-drill analytics for not just financial, but operational data, a data warehouse can bring all of that together in a secure place for analysis with a cloud report writer. And if you have multiple subsidiaries to consolidate, a data warehouse does that organically. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that the data warehouse is the unsung hero in the realm of enterprise technology – and a pivotal solution for your seemingly inevitable move to the cloud.

The rise of the cloud has created major disruption in the technology world, but it also can be overwhelming for companies of all sizes to figure out their path forward. While on paper cloud reporting seems simple with the foundation of a data warehouse, I’m sure plenty of folks will have questions about cloud CPM solutions and specifically reporting for their respective organization. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based reporting and data warehousing solutions that enables teamwork and streamlined decision-making capabilities for your organization.

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