When not to use Management Reporter

Management Reporter is easy to use to create Management Reports and it does not require a developer to do it. But there are times when Management Reporter is not the right tool for the job.

Here are some reasons why you should not use Management Reporter:

1. The data you need is not in General Ledger or Budgets module in Dynamics AX

This is kind of the kill all of Management Reporter. If your report asks for things not in the General Ledger or Budgets, then no matter how hard you try, it cannot be done, even if the data you need is in the subledgers.

Common examples are if you need customer, supplier or project detail. These are stored in the Sales Ledger, Purchase Ledger and Projects module respectively and the data cannot be found in General Ledger. 

But hold on! I think one of the least known ability of Management Reporter is to be able to report on the attributes at transaction level. So you can report on attributes of the transaction like transaction date, voucher numbers, created by person etc at transaction level. This is quite powerful as it allows the report to provide detailed information at the drilldown level.

Also, there is a limited workaround in that I have seen Customer ID, Supplier ID and Project ID being set up as Financial Dimensions. Hence, with a little Excel magic, detail from these items can be added to the report.

2. You need graphs

Do you know you can create charts or graphs in Management Reporter? Yes, you can, trust me.

Have I seen a need to use it, not really. Due to the nature of reports being in a grid like format, the graphs are pretty inflexible and you cannot really do much with them. Throw in a bar or pie chart if you like, but compared with the likes of Power BI, it is like a University Graduate looking at work submitted by a pre-schooler. You are probably better off downloading the data into Excel and working on that.

3. Automatic publishing to MS Word, Excel or Adobe PDF

Cannot be done. If you are fortunate (I really mean old) enough to use FRx, you might have noticed that the ability to publish report directly to Excel, Word or PDF does not exist anymore due to what Microsoft terms “Better security”. So banish that idea. There are other tools in the market but they do not have the same flexibility as Management Reporter.

4. Real time

This is debatable. Normally, Dynamics AX data is integrated every 5 – 10 minutes, so the lag is not unreasonable and most people can live with that. However, in a very few rare customers, data integration takes hours so maybe that is an issue.

5. Integrating with data outside AX

If data is outside of Dynamics AX and what you need to integrate is really minimal, then there is the option of using Linking to External Workbook to integrate data from Excel spreadsheets. If it gets even a little complex, consider using something like Power BI or create a DataWarehouse instead. 

The Linking to External Workbook function is clunky to setup and maintain. The Excel files MUST be on the same server as MR and it is difficult to get it to work. So I would not try to go down this route. Of course there is always the manual process to download and integrate in Excel.

By the way, if you are using Dynamics 365 for Operations, then perish that thought. Linking to External Workbook does not exist.

Do use Management Reporter for the following:

1. Clear report based on Main Account codes and Financial Dimensions.

2. Near real time data is fine.

3. Easily created reports by the business and not IT.

4. Ability to look at data in summary level and then drilldown easily. Many other tools require a lot more effort to achieve this.

5. Data in the report is only from General Ledger or Budgets.

6. This is the only reporting tool in Dynamics AX I know that does not require you to learn about the database structure in Dynamics AX first – so they are generally quick wins.

In Summary

While Management Reporter is great at what it does – create Management Reports, there are some limitations and one should therefore look at other options to achieving your reporting goals.

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