The Hierarchy of Microsoft Dynamics GP Reporting
Posted by Mike Giuffre on September 13, 2016
Using Microsoft Dynamics GP as your ERP system provides for a wealth of data that you can analyze to help make good business choices. In order to report on this data, Dynamics GP comes with several tools; however, there are many other available tools out there, too many to even mention.
In order to help you decide the best way to analyze your Dynamics GP data, I’d like to review what I call the “Hierarchy of GP Reporting”.
Dynamics GP Reporting Solutions
The first thing to understand are the tools included with Dynamics GP for reporting. They are as follows:
Report Writer (RW) – this is the built in reporting tool that all standard Dynamics GP reports are written in. All the Dynamics GP reports can be customized using this tool. New reports can be created with Report Writer, but there are better tools for that.
Report Writer reports are the first line of edit and inspection reports in Dynamics GP. Report Writer reports include all batch edit lists as well as standard trial balances and master file listings in Dynamics GP (such as a vendor or customer list.) As mentioned, these reports can be customized, but going beyond basic customization will take some technical proficiency. Training in this tool can be found but it’s recommended to consider other reporting solutions before getting too fancy with it.
SmartLists – some people might not think of this as a reporting tool, but it certainly is one of the more powerful ones. The standard SmartList shipped with Dynamics GP are useful, but the power lies in the SmartList tools; such as, SmartList Designer (included) and SmartList Builder (from eOne Solutions). By utilizing these SmartList tools, you have powerful analysis by creating new, custom SmartLists.
SmartList are extremely helpful in mining and analyzing data in Dynamics GP. There are many SmartList included with Dynamics GP, but if you can master the skills to create new ones, you will broaden your reach into your Dynamics GP data store very deeply. There are a number of local and online help resources available, including Crestwood hosted webinars to help you attain proficiency with this tool. We highly encourage you to learn more about SmartLists and make extensive use of it.
Management Reporter (MR) – this financial reporting tool is included with Dynamics GP. It is a separate program but it links directly to the Dynamics GP ledger data. It is typically used to produce financial reports from the General Ledger such as a Balance Sheet or Income Statement.
MR is built on a more current platform and uses a Row/Column/Tree paradigm; therefore, giving you the ability to create, maintain, view, and edit a variety of reports effectively and efficiently.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) – this is a custom reporting tool that is included with your SQL Server license. SQL Server is the database program that stores the Dynamics GP data. Creating reports in SSRS tends to be a technical task requiring a certain amount of IT skills. Also, a large number of SSRS reports are available out-of-the box with Dynamics GP and can be highly customized to fit your business needs.
SSRS is by far the most versatile tool for Dynamics GP reporting. All these reports are visible from a browser and thus viewable by almost anyone authorized to see the data. In addition, matching data from external sources can be included making SSRS a great tool for creating reconciliations between Dynamics GP data and external systems.
How Do I Choose a Reporting Solution?
Before choosing a reporting solution, you must understand what you are looking for and how you intend to use it. Will the report only be used by Dynamics GP users? What data elements are required for the report? It can be very helpful to go so far as to drawing out what reports you need, or writing a report specification as a first step, which spells out these requirements and documents how the answer will be obtained. A catalog of these reports is then useful for planning and upgrading Dynamics GP in the future.
There are many other tools available for reporting from Dynamics GP, including tools in the Dynamics GP product suite, such as Microsoft Excel, as well as third party vendors, and even general reporting tools that can report from SQL Server data. One example is Crystal Reports. This is a general reporting tool and used to be the “go-to” tool before Microsoft created and shipped SSRS with SQL Server.
Hopefully this Hierarchy of Dynamics GP Reporting is helpful in guiding you to get the most from your system! As always, if you have questions or need further assistance, contact Crestwood Associates, and we can help discuss the best options for your business. Email us at Marketing@Crestwood.com.