With Dynamics GP, you have a number of options when it comes to generating reports. Depending on your specific needs there is usually an appropriate tool. For example, FRx is the reporting tool for generating traditional structured financial statements such as Profit and Loss Statements or Balance Sheets. Dynamics GP Smartlists provide easy access to data in list form that can quickly exported to Excel. And most existing standard reports and forms are created with GP’s Report Writer - which in all honesty is not an exceptionally easy to use or powerful tool.
But if you have some fairly advanced reporting needs including some complex grouping, sub-totaling, specific formatting and other "beyond-the-basics" needs, then you are really looking at two alternatives: Crystal Reports and SQL Reporting Services (SSRS).
Crystal Reports has been the king of the reporting hill for some time. It offers the most powerful features of any report writer. Having been an avid user of Crystal for many years (and a former Crystal Partner and Trainer), I feel it still represents the ultimate in reporting flexibility and power.
But Microsoft’s SQL Server Reporting Services has been gaining on Crystal Reports in many ways over the past few years. It comes with the Microsoft SQL Server database so you do not have to pay any extra (unless you need extra SQL licenses for your report development users). Being a Microsoft solution, it is the direction that Microsoft is heading for all its business application needs, as they have already incorporated it into the Dynamics GP product. And that trend will continue to accelerate. We are seeing much more interest and commitment to the SSRS reporting environment from many of our customers, across a variety of business applications. And even this grizzled old Crystal guy has begun to like many of the aspects of the SSRS report designer tool. We find that we are developing as many custom reports in SSRS as we do Crystal.
Although SSRS still trails Crystal from a technical capability comparison, I feel it is time for all companies and users with serious reporting needs to commit to learning SSRS. Although its report design environment is actually Visual Studio which can be intimidating to some, it is not that difficult to learn. An additional plus for SSRS is that as part of SQL Server you get a web-based Report Manager admin tool that can maintain report executions and delivery.
So I say it’s time to bite the bullet, take a deep breath, and dive into SSRS. You might even like it!
And if you are in the process of evaluating ERP solutions and taking a close look at Microsoft Dynamics GP, you should rest assured that you will have some very powerful reporting tools available.
In future posts I will talk a little more about the approach to take when designing a new report and some of the features to be aware of when creating an SSRS report within Dynamics GP.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have: Rick Feterick, Crestwood Associates LLC, 847-394-8820 x48 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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