Microsoft Dynamics GP reporting is essential part of GP implementation and post production ERP support. As for typical mid-size MRP application, you should expect multiple reporting tools, especially if you think about reports genre: financial reporting, business processes specific reports, etc. Also, when Microsoft incorporated MS SQL Server Reporting Services or SRS and kind of recommended it over former tool of the choice – Crystal Reports, you should do your homework on selecting reporting tool which will do proposed and expected job. In this article we would like to review major reporting tools for Microsoft Great Plains and give you orientation session:
1. Great Plains ReportWriter or RW. This tool is incorporated into GP Dexterity environment, meaning that it works from the GP user interface and within Great Plains security realm. RW is the tools you should look at first when you are customizing something which you call from GP interface: Sales Order Processing invoice form, for example. Do not expect too much from Report Writer, as it has numerous restrictions: it can work from existing GP screens only where parameter sets are predefined by GP existing standard logic. If you would like to create custom reports in RW and call it from GP interface with custom parameter selection form, you will have to create GP Dexterity customization and call your report from there
2. Crystal Reports and SRS. These two report design tools are competing on the market and in some features similar. When you base you GP reporting logic in SQL Stored Procedures, the final report printing could be done with the same success from CR and SRS, so it probably the question which tool is the most comfortable for you from your skills and experience. The advantage of SRS and CR is the following – you can create really cross-modules and all-nightly report. You should also consider comparing stored proc over SQL view, stored procedure allows you to submit parameters and create temporary tables in your SQL script code – these are what you can not do in the SQL views. However if you are looking in the creation of pure financial reports: Profit & Loss Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow – you need to keep reading
3. FRx. FRX Report Designer advantage over Crystal and SRS is the connection to General Ledger GP interface. In FRx you can also cross company boundaries and create consolidated report. FRx allows you to create so called reporting trees, where you can create report by specific GP segments in multiple companies. Plus, FRx give you the link to Excel worksheet, where you have something like small branch accounting data, which you would like to see consolidated with corporate income statement
4. Microsoft Excel reporting options. Imagine that you recognize the fact that most of your people in Accounting department trust to MS Excel only and do not follow corporate procedures to use complex tools, such as MS Outlook or even Microsoft CRM. In GP you can easily export data to Excel from Smart List or more advanced tool – Smart List Builder, where you can create views based you custom SQL expressions
5. SQL Select statement. If your reporting and data mining and discovery needs are changing every day, and creation of permanent Crystal Reports is not feasible, and if you have decent SQL programmer and developer in staff, you should consider ad-hoc SQL scripting with export to Excel to produce required reports. You should be aware, that if your managers require you to build data warehouses on the daily basis, then you should implement SQL Analytical Services with Excel Pivoting tables or Cognos
6. Microsoft Access Reporting option. If your IT people expertise covers MS Access, consider using ODBC connection to GP database and use Access Reports
7. MS Visual Studio.Net custom programming reports. If you have strong C# and VB developers, you should consider training them in eConnect and then they should be capable to build web reporting applications. In the case if you would like to extend eConnect logic with direct access to GP tables, please review GP tables structure – Microsoft Dynamics GP->Tools->Resource Description->Tables
8. Archaic DB platforms. If you are still on GP 7.5 and earlier, you may be using Pervasive SQL Server 2000 or Ctree/Faircom. If this is your case, you have to use one of the following tools: MS Access, Crystal Reports (where you are restricted to ODBC driver limitations to cross GP modules restrictions), or GP Dexterity customization. Also if you are on old version you should consider upgrade if you business is in active mode – current version of GP is 10.0 and you have to use GP migration tool to MS SQL Server version
9. Cross-Platform Reporting. Here we recommend you to review first MS SQL Server linked server concept, also you can consider similar tools from Oracle EDI.
10. Generic ERP reporting. If you are on PeopleSoft, Oracle EBusiness Suite, Peachtree, MYOB. Then reporting tool requires homework.