Book Image

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Reporting

Book Image

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Reporting

Overview of this book

Resources such as the book you now hold in your hand are critical to taking the extra step in uncovering the trends locked deep within your data. Not only will this book offer insight into the many reporting tools currently available for GP, it will also offer a unique perspective on how each reporting tool can be used to meet specific challenges faced by your organization" - Errol Schoenfish, a member of the Microsoft Dynamics community for over 24 years Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 is a sophisticated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with a multitude of features and options. Microsoft Dynamics GP enables you to create and manage a variety of reports that help small and mid-size businesses effectively manage their financial and operational data. This book will show you how to create and manage reports, know what tools to use and when, how to use them and where to find the data based on how it's being entered into the system with Dynamics GP. This book will empower you with the tools and reports necessary to use Dynamics GP data in making key business decisions. The book addresses the many challenges and frustrations a company may face when preparing to build new reports. Then it moves on to explain how to find your data in the GP system and company databases. The book then dives deep into topics such as SmartLists, SL Builder and Excel Report Builder, Report Writer, SSRS Report Library, and Analysis Cubes Design and Management Reporter amongst others. With this knowledge in hand, you will be capable of selecting the most effective tool for the current reporting environment.
Table of Contents (21 chapters)
Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Reporting
About the Authors
About the Reviewers

Trends in reporting

As companies have adapted to new ways of capturing and recording business data, the techniques for reporting and making sense of this data have also changed. The best report developers are those who understand how these techniques have changed and are willing to update their own skill sets to capitalize on this.

Some of the most recent, important trends in the reporting space include:

  • Increased flexibility

  • Reporting through all levels of an organization

  • Increased access to report generation process

Understanding how reporting techniques have changed in the last few years provides us an opportunity to improve our ability to produce relevant and useful reports. Developers and consultants who understand how to exploit these trends can position their organization's reporting capabilities to provide true competitive advantage against other industry laggards. Understanding past trends will provide us insight into the future of reporting so that we may begin taking steps to prepare for new tools and techniques.

Increased flexibility

Designing and developing reports has long been the domain of IT departments. If an end user identified a need for a particular report, he or she would typically have to submit a request to the IT department or some other functional group assigned to report development and creation. The process of designing and creating the report would then be assigned to a developer who, more than likely, had a number of other tasks waiting to be completed. Not surprisingly, the end user would not receive his or her report for several days, if not weeks or months! By then, it is entirely possible that the end user's needs may have changed and the anticipated report has become obsolete before it can even be used for the first time.

Is it any wonder then, that this inefficient practice has quickly given way to a more flexible process? While many situations still require the involvement of an experienced technical developer, in today's business environment, end users have a reasonable expectation that they will be provided with the tools necessary to create their own reports. As business software becomes more accessible and easier to use, end users increasingly expect to be equipped with the tools they need to create their own reports. This allows end users to design and create reports that match their specifications and to do this in a much quicker time frame than would be possible if this report were being designed by an individual in another department.

On the surface, this trend offers an extraordinary level of efficiency and flexibility that should be welcomed throughout all organizations. Certain challenges with this model do exist, however, and developers and consultants should be aware of these. Of course, end users who wish to create their own reports cannot have unfettered access to an organization's production database, nor will most of them understand the hardware and network requirements for working with reporting tools that handle large amounts of data. Therefore, while traditional IT departments are no longer the key designers and creators of most reports, they still have a key role to play in providing central oversight for the reporting needs of the entire organization. Additionally, developers and consultants must also expand their focus beyond the IT department to ensure that end users are well-equipped and trained in making the most effective use of their reporting tools.

Reporting through all levels of an organization

In years past, access to reports was typically limited to members of the Executive team. As the long-term decisions makers for the company, it was the Executive team that benefitted most from reporting tools that provided a snapshot of company performance over a period of time. Reporting at other levels of the organization was generally an afterthought if it was not ignored entirely. Of course, one reason for this may lie in the fact that ERP systems were generally not as adept in capturing information from all aspects of the business; instead, the focus was on capturing general ledger information, which is generally perceived to be the domain of the Executive and Accounting teams. Additionally, perhaps for reasons of security and trust, Executive team members often did not see a reason to share key metrics and information with lower level team-members.

In recent years, however, as ERP systems have become more adept at capturing a wider variety of information across all functions of business, reporting across all levels of the organization has become more important. Executive teams are no longer the exclusive focus of an organization's reporting efforts. Today, in an effort to gain competitive advantage, all levels of the organization must utilize reporting tools to improve their ability to make decisions on a day-to-day basis. In other words, organizations are now focused on putting their hard-earned business data in the hands of those who can benefit the most from it. They are also discovering that transparency can improve an employee's performance and focus. Employees can quickly and easily see how their individual and team performance is impacting the overall company performance. This leads to greater buy-in and focus from all levels of the organization.

As a developer or a consultant tasked with developing reports, the focus is no longer just on developing balance sheets and income statements for an Executive team. While such reports are still relevant and necessary, additional reports for lower levels of the organization are also important. The Sales manager expects improved insight into customer spending behaviour. The Warehouse manager demands access to reports that identify orders behind schedule. Developers must be aware of the various reporting audiences that exist within an organization, the types of reporting that are required by these audiences, and the security that is required to ensure that sensitive information is only seen by the right individuals.

Increased access to report generation process

Successful organizations are the ones that make their data available to all levels of the organization. One reason for this trend lies in the fact that newer, more effective reporting tools have improved the ability of users across all levels of an organization to access company data. In previous years, hardware and resource limitations meant that reports were generated at specific times such as month-end close. In a less-connected business environment, where decisions did not have to be made on a minute-by-minute basis, companies could afford to wait until certain points in time to generate and review their financial statements.

In today's hyper-competitive business environment, however, this is no longer a luxury that organizations can afford. Instead, any report, whether a key financial statement or an aging trial balance, must be capable of being generated at a moment's notice with near-to or real-time company data. Organizations' members cannot afford to wait until the weekly sales meeting or the quarterly Executive team meeting to review key reports; instead, they must be generating and reviewing these reports on a daily basis.

Developers and consultants must be aware of this trend and seek ways to make reports more readily available to an organization. Issues such as latency and hardware must be considered to ensure that reports can be generated at a moment's notice without any negative impact to transactional processing. One of the most effective ways to do this is to make a wide range of reporting tools available to all levels of the organization and then equipping team members with the knowledge necessary to utilize these tools effectively.