The Top 7 Microsoft Dynamics GP Reporting Options and When to Use Them
Microsoft Dynamics GP is a comprehensive accounting/ERP solution designed to help you streamline and unify all parts of your business while providing you with enhanced visibility into your company’s financial data.
Many companies running Dynamics GP, however, are far from utilizing the reporting capabilities in GP and are often struggling to pull out critical data and reports when needed.
This blog provides an overview of the most common reporting options in Dynamics GP as well as the situations in which they are most useful.
Option 1: Inquiry Windows & Lists
Though Inquiry Windows cannot be used to create actual reports, they are still worth mentioning as it is one of the most common ways of retrieving information from Dynamics GP. Every module has a series of Inquiry Windows which can be used to instantly view data in the system. Inquiry Windows are unique in that they display pertinent information to the user, but are not customizable or interactive.
This is ideal for non-management users as they can easily access data in the system but not manipulate it, which potentially could compromise data integrity. Inquiry windows exist in every Dynamics GP module and can be saved as shortcuts for individual users for easy access. Access to Inquiry windows does not require any extra installation.
Ideal For: Looking up specific information quickly
- Instant data access
- No customization required
- No customization of reporting
- Limited ability to sort or manipulate output
- Very little detail provided about data
Similar to Inquiry Windows, Lists can be used to instantly view data in the system. However, Lists also provide the ability to take action on the data in the list. For example, in the customers list, you can select multiple customer records and then apply or remove a hold from all of the customers you selected.
At the top of the list is an action pane with relevant tasks that can be applied to the list items. At the bottom of each list is an Information pane with additional details about the list item. This allows the user easier access to details without having to drill into the specific card or transaction screen.
Ideal For: Looking up specific information quickly, viewing details and taking action
- Instant data access
- No customization required
- Save custom lists
- No customization of reporting
- Some additional security setup required
Option 2: SmartList
SmartList is a standard reporting tool with customizable rows and columns. For every module, there are a number of columns of data that can be added or subtracted from the table with nearly instantaneous updating.
The columns often correspond with field data, but can be customized to show other information configurable by a user. Rows may be filtered and reordered based on the different types of data that appear in the fields of the column. After the user is satisfied with how the SmartList looks, the report can easily be exported to Excel for further data manipulation and later use.
Ideal For: Creating tables quickly and checking updated information in previously created tables.
- A relatively quick way to pull information from the system
- Presents the data in an easily comprehensible table format
- Columns and rows can be customized relatively quickly
- Users have the ability to drill down into the detail window
- Customized SmartLists can be saved for future use as new data comes into the system
- Limited to out of the box provided SmartLists
- Filtering limited to 4 sets of criteria
- Limited customization compared to other reporting tools*
- SmartList only works for tables. If you would like to do other analysis on any of your GP data, you'll need to export to Excel or use another reporting option
* SmartList Builder provides the ability to modify or create new SmartLists from tables or views.
Option 3: Out-of-the-box Reports
In addition to the Inquiry windows, there are a number of pre-built reports that can be run to view common Financial and Systematic Reports. The data presented in the reports can be filtered, but the organization of the data, however, is difficult to modify, limiting the visual appeal of the reports.
Out-of-the-box reports are great for quickly accessing information but can be inadequate for presentation purposes.To access out-of-the-box reports, you can simply select one from the "Reports" menu of any Dynamics GP module.
Ideal for: Obtaining general report information or viewing financials statements quickly for intradepartmental use
- The best solution to see financial statements or to get a complete view of data quickly
- Once you have customized report parameters to your liking, you can pull the same report each time with updated data
- Little customization for presentation
- Report Writer tool can be difficult to use
- No data manipulation
Option 4: Excel Refreshable Reports
One of the biggest issues with working in Excel is the fact that the data doesn't update. Excel is superior when it comes to table manipulation, but the data must be manually copied or otherwise updated from other sources which can lead to user error and inefficiency.
Refreshable Excel reports maintain the same table manipulation features of Excel, but updates automatically as data is changed within GP. Once the data connection is set up, the data can be updated with a click of a button.
Ideal For: A user who is proficient in Excel, but inexperienced or isn’t able to access GP
- Maintains the ability to use Excel’s features directly
- No need to log into Dynamics GP
- Not within the SmartList structure so you can add custom columns that cannot appear in SmartList
- Initially, it takes some time to set up data connection and if necessary create custom data views
- Support for Excel refreshable reports is limited
- Requires separate security setup
* Excel Report Builder can be used to create customer Excel reports accessing Dynamics GP tables and views.
Option 5: Management Reporter (Report Designer)
Formerly known as FRx, Management Reporter is a much more customizable, but also much more complex reporting option than the ones mentioned previously. Management Reporter uses a hierarchical tree system to organize reports. The output on the final report can be seen in the window next to the hierarchy and refreshes as you move parts of the report around in your hierarchy. Management Reporter links directly to the data within Dynamics GP.
When viewing a report, Management Reporter allows you to drill down to the specific transaction detail within Dynamics GP. Management Reporter also has premium sharing capabilities. Reports can be viewed and shared easily through Office 365, email, networks, through a web browser, etc.
Ideal For: Creating financial reports for management and directors
- Detailed reports can be created quickly and updated easily
- Superior sharing options
- Attractive presentation format
- Consolidate reports across multiple companies
- Somewhat complicated
- Takes considerable time to learn how to build reports
- Formatting dimensions are not intuitive
Option 6: SSRS Reports
SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Services is an object-oriented reporting option. Because SSRS queries the data directly from the database, in order to have a complete understanding of its capabilities you need to have at least a basic understanding of SQL and SQL database structure. When formatting the actual reports, all of the objects are free floating on the screen. Thankfully, all of the objects can easily snap to a grid or each other so it's easy to build presentable reports.
However, many of the pre-defined reports found in Dynamics GP mentioned earlier have been converted to SSRS. Once installed, the SSRS reports can be accessed from within Dynamics GP. As a matter of fact, any custom SSRS report that is developed can be called from within GP.
Lastly, SSRS provides a WYSWYG Report Builder tool that can be used with the Dynamics GP Report Models to quickly create simple reports. Once the reports are built, they can be saved along with other SSRS report and accessed from Dynamics GP.
Ideal For: Companies who are particular about the visual appeal of reports
- Extremely customizable
- Object-oriented formatting
- Accessible through web
- Distributable through subscriptions and emails
- Does not require Dynamics GP licensing
- Can be accessed from Dynamics GP
- Advanced reporting requires SQL knowledge
- Additional security setup required
Option 7: Third-Party Reporting Software
In addition to the reporting options directly associated with Dynamics GP, there is a great deal of third party reporting products designed to enhance the reporting capabilities of Dynamics GP. For example, BI360 is a prominent budgeting and reporting add-on solution for Excel.
Installing the system adds two tabs to your Excel ribbon which can be used for reporting and/or budgeting at any time. Within the tabs, you can organize your report hierarchy and pull up project related documents (learn more about BI360 here:
Prophix, an alternative to BI360, can be accessed from Excel as well, but also has its own customizable dashboard (watch this video to get an overview of Prophix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHUjILQ9tY0).
- Integrate seamlessly with Excel
- Extremely powerful reporting and analytical control
- High degree of security
- Integrate with various ERP applications, including Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Because they are third party, there may be issues with how they interact with Dynamics GP
- Not all Dynamics GP partners support third party reporting applications
- Time intensive to setup and get started
As you can see, there are many reporting options available for your Dynamics GP application. Once you know the proper use for each reporting tool, you can proficiently gather any type of information that you are seeking from basic field level data to a bird’s-eye view of your company’s financial status.
FMT Consultants supports Microsoft Dynamics GP and a wide range of third-party reporting solutions for Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Please contact us for more information or to set up a demonstration.
Steven Yurkas, Microsoft Dynamics GP Consultant, FMT Consultants
Posted by: Jakob Bechgaard