Late in 2016, Microsoft announced the retirement of Management Reporter (MR) for Microsoft Dynamics ERP, which includes Microsoft Dynamics SL. I, personally, find this a welcome announcement in that I discovered soon after its release that MR was resource intensive, costly (even though it was "free"), and limited in its inability to provide a robust reporting environment.
It's not uncommon for Microsoft and other software publishers to make changes to their financial reporting tools. In fact, many users thought that MR would be an "upgrade" to FRx—one that would be better, faster and sleeker than the retired reporting tool. The reception ended up being lukewarm at best.
What to do? Where to go? In speaking with Michael Porreca, Director of Business Intelligence & Analytics at Tribridge, the good news is that the future looks bright with three best of breed solutions for the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) space. Although these are not "free" solutions that are included with Microsoft Dynamics, I think you'll find that the efficiency, low total cost of ownership, and decrease in resources required are much less expensive than MR in the long run:
BI360 is a very popular solution for Dynamics SL customers. Prebuilt connectors give you direct connect reporting from your SL environment, and allow for easy report design directly within Excel, minimizing the learning curve, while the BI360 data warehouse model gives you the ability to report off of not only your SL environment, but your CRM environment, your payroll system, and more, again using the same Excel interface for report design and generation.
Prophix provides connectivity to your SL environment, building data cubes that can be used for blazingly fast financial and operational reporting, due to their pre-processing and summarization of the data, and allow you to quickly and easily slice and dice your data on the fly, by any dimension or statistical account imaginable, and to generate crisp, clean financial and operation reporting.
Calumo shares a similar architecture to Prophix, allowing web-based design and generation of financial and operational reports, with no client installation required, while using either an Excel-like web interface, or an Excel add-in. Due to their architecture, both Prophix and Calumo provide for blindingly fast performance, against the largest of databases.
The Power BI platform from Microsoft, which is part of the Office 365 suite, can be layered on top of any of these three tools. Power BI provides compelling visualizations and business analytics, enabling users to quickly pivot, filter, and slice data visually, from their browser, tablet, or phone. Together, these solutions allow you to engage your stakeholders, putting the needed data in their hands, in a timely fashion, in a manner where they can interact with it, browse it, and explore the data, and use this to quickly make business decisions, without asking you to run another report for them. These new tools let you, and your stakeholders, spend more of their time analyzing the data, rather than spending it finding the data, then cleansing the data, then preparing the data, then formatting the data, then presenting the data, and then starting this cycle all over again.
Software evolves over time, and will continue to do so. Let us be your guide through these changes. Take advantage of the next generation of reporting tools drive your business success. Don't invest another dime in Management Reporter until you have spoken to us about your reporting needs.
And, to learn more about this and other Business Intelligence and Analytics solutions for Dynamics, check out our BI&A Snack Session series.