Determining the Best Reporting Tool for the Job

There is no doubt that Microsoft Dynamics GP offers a wide variety of custom reporting methods that can enable anyone in your organization to get real-time reporting quickly and easily – whether it be SmartLists, Linked Excel Reports, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), or Management Reporter (MR). As a report developer, typically it’s not too difficult to find the data that you need for a given reporting request – instead, sometimes the biggest challenge is just figuring out which reporting tool to use when creating the report.  I’ve found that there are a few key questions you can ask that can immediately narrow down your options for you.

Will non-GP users need access to this report?

If your answer is “Yes”, then SmartLists are automatically out of the question, as these can only be accessed from within GP.

Will users need to run this report for various scenarios?

If your answer is “Yes”, go with either SSRS or Management Reporter – these are the only 2 reporting methods that allow “parameters” that the user can play with before running the report.  These parameters make it easy for the user of the report to run it for a specific scenario that suits their needs.

Is it a financial report that requires a lot of comparisons?

If your answer is “Yes”, you may find it easiest to go with Management Reporter.  In MR, it’s much easier to create financial reports that allow you to compare Actuals vs. Budget, Actuals vs. Prior Year, etc. or run statements as at a certain fiscal period.

Does the report require totals and sub-totals?

If your answer is “Yes”, then SmartLists should be avoided.  While SmartLists are a great and very dynamics tool for GP users, its biggest downfall is the fact that you can’t show totals for columns without exporting to Excel and adding them manually.

Are the users of the report tech-savvy?

If your answer is “No”, you may want to veer towards a Linked Excel report.  In most cases, even the less technical users have some sort of experience with Excel, in which case you are better off giving them a report that they can access in a familiar environment.

Does the report require a lot of flexibility in the way it is presented?

If your answer is “Yes”, you definitely want to go with SSRS.  While Linked Excel reports can be customized to some degree, it requires a lot of extra work.  SSRS, on the other hand, gives you the flexibility of having multiple tables positioned however you need, graphs, gauges, conditional formatting, and more right out of the box.

Do users want to access this from anywhere over the web?

If your answer is “Yes”, you’ll want to go with SSRS for sure, as this is the only reporting tool of the bunch that can be integrated into a web browser for viewing over the web.  While viewing SSRS reports over the web is not a standard feature, it is possible – for example, WebSan’s Time and Expense Portal allows users of the portal to view any SSRS report over the web and also allows administrators of the portal to manage security around which users have access to which reports.  To see more on WebSan’s Time and Expense Portal, check out the following link:

Rahim Jiwani is an Application Specialist at WebSan Solutions Inc, a Microsoft Dynamics GP Silver Partner & 2012 Microsoft Impact Awards Finalist. Rahim can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 416-499-1235 ext 217.

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