Now that year-end close activities are behind us, let’s turn our attention to another hot topic as spring approaches – how to share Microsoft Dynamics GP data with users beyond the finance team. So, how can you share your Dynamics GP data without purchasing a full Dynamics GP license for everyone?
The answer depends on what type of data you wish to share.
Sharing Financial Results
Beginning with Management Reporter (MR) 2012, Cumulate Update 13, MR now supports an unlimited licensing model. Therefore, you can set up all users in your organization as MR viewers. By distributing your financials to a SharePoint site or a network share, you can push your financial results to those who consume them.
When users click on the published link, the link will point back to the MR Reports Library and validate the user has the proper security access to view the results. Users can open the financial statements via a web browser, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari, without any additional MR components installed on their workstation.
Sharing Sub-Ledger Results
If the data you wish to share comes from a sub-ledger such as Sales, Purchasing or Inventory, you will likely find your MR reports do not contain all the details you wish to share. For sub-ledger detail, I recommend turning to either SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports or refreshable Excel spreadsheets, both of which can dynamically pull data from your Dynamics GP databases.
Out-of-the-box Dynamic GP actually comes with more than 200 canned SSRS reports and refreshable Excel spreadsheets. To see if these tools have been deployed in your system, navigate to the Administration Homepage >> Setup >> System >> Reporting Tools Setup. This is also the same window you would use to deploy these tools in your system.
Oftentimes, clients complain about Report Writer, the reporting tool that comes with Dynamics GP and powers nearly every single report you print within GP, including posting journals, trial balances and account receivable (AR) and account payable (AP) invoices. Making changes to Report Writer reports can be difficult and exporting these reports to Excel is a mess as the exported data includes all of the headers and footers on the report in Dynamics GP.
Therefore, many years ago, Microsoft had to make the decision whether to invest in overhauling the archaic Report Writer tool, which would only benefit Dynamics GP clients or invest their R&D dollars in another reporting tool that would benefit all clients. Microsoft decided to go with the latter option and invested in SSRS.
SSRS is the reporting tool that comes with your SQL database; it is not Dynamics GP specific. You can deploy these SSRS reports to your SharePoint site, if you have one, or simply to your Report Manager website in Native mode. Out-of-the-box, Microsoft provides many canned SSRS reports that pull data from your Dynamics GP database beyond just financial data. Users can also export these reports to Excel in a clean, useable format.
Access to these reports is controlled within SQL via Windows Authentication – unrelated to whether the user has access to the Dynamics GP application. Additionally, the underlying code powering these reports is not locked. Therefore, someone in your organization with the right skillset can modify these reports as needed to better meet your organization’s needs.
The SSRS reports mentioned above are formatted as reports. However, sometimes you do not need presentation quality reports; you just need to see your data! For example, what is the phone number for Customer ABC? Who were our top 10 vendors last year? For those type of ad-hoc questions, sometimes the canned, refreshable Excel spreadsheets that come with the software are your best bet to give users outside of the Dynamics GP database access to that information.
While the SSRS reports are often accessed via an internal website, the Excel reports are often accessed via a network share, with each company and each module within each company having their own folder.
Microsoft continues to expand upon this functionality. Beginning with Dynamics GP2013, R2, Microsoft released Excel Dashboards for the Financial, Purchasing, Sales and Inventory series that pull data from the Dynamics GP database in real-time.
Similar to the SSRS reports described above, Microsoft provides these canned Excel spreadsheets to help jumpstart the process and help you think of how you could best apply this functionality to meet your needs. Likewise, access to these reports is controlled within SQL via Windows Authentication, unrelated to whether the user has access to the Dynamics GP application. Additionally, the underlying code powering these reports is not locked.
If you love the SmartList functionality that is inherent in Dynamics GP and wish you had a way to share that list information with others in your organization, these refreshable Excel spreadsheets are designed to meet that exact need.
As the weather starts to turn warmer, now is a great time to rethink how you share your Dynamics GP data with the larger organization so you can make the dissemination of information more self-serve. Leverage the software you already own so your finance team can focus on more strategic tasks this spring.
In part two, we will build upon the concepts discussed in this blog as we review the functionality you own called Business Analyzer. Until then!