Reporting Tools for Microsoft Great Plains - Overview For Developers
Looks like Microsoft Great Plains becomes more and more popular, partly because of Microsoft muscles behind it. Now it is targeted to the whole spectrum of horizontal and vertical market clientele. Small companies use Small Business Manager (which is based on the same technology - Great Plains Dexterity dictionary and runtime), Great Plains Standard on MSDE is for small to midsize clients, and then Great Plains serves the rest of the market up to big corporations. There are several reporting tools available and you definitely need to know which one to use for different types of reports.
If you are developer who is asked: how do we create report for Microsoft Great Plains - read this and you will have the clues on where to look further.
1. Great Plains Report Writer (ReportWriter) - this is built-in reporting tool. All the original report in Great Plains are written in ReportWriter. ReportWriter itself is Dexterity module. You should use this tool if you would like to modify existing Great Plains reports, such as Blank Invoice Form - here you can place your company logo, change the positioning, fonts, colors, etc. ReportWriter will allow you also do new reports - simple option if you want to export all the records from one Great Plains table - use it. New report, however doesn't have interface where you would enter parameters - so it is not useful for real custom reports. Another limitation of ReportWriter - you can not do cross-modules report - when you need sales and purchasing info on the same report for example.
2. FRx. This is excellent tool when deal with financial reporting - it works on the General Ledger level (Balance sheet, P&L, Cash Flow Statement, etc.). It also allows you to do multiple companies consolidation - when you do consolidated Balance Sheet (with inter-companies transactions elimination).
3. Smart List - Export to Excel - this is nice feature in Great Plains - you could create a list with simple criteria and then export it to Excel.
4. Crystal Reports. It gives you unlimited functionality. Obviously flexibility requires you to know Great Plains table structure: Launch Great Plains and go to Tools->Resource Description->Tables. Find the table in the proper series. If you are looking for the customers - it should be RM00101 - customer master file. If you need historical Sales Order Processing documents - they are in SOP30200 - Sales History Header file, etc. Create ODBC connection to GP Company database. Use the same technique as when you create standard ODBC connection for GP workstation - but change default database to targeted company database. Create SQL Query to probe the data - we always recommend tuning your query and see that you are getting adequate results - in any case - Crystal Report is just a nice tool to show the results of your query.
5. Direct Web Publishing off Great Plains databases - yes - it is easy now with Visual Studio.Net and you can hire good programmers. This is good - Microsoft Business Solutions products: Great Plains, Solomon, Navision and Axapta will be integrated into so called Microsoft Business Portal - which will have web interface - you can get the idea if you look at Microsoft CRM web client - so derecti web publishing is good taste.
6. SQL Queries. If you have SQL background - this is great field for you. You know - with properly formatted SQL query you can realize simple EDI export/import for the integration with legacy systems.
Happy designing! if you want us to do the job - give us a call!
About The Author
Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies - USA nationwide Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Great Plains customization company, based in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami and having locations in multiple states and internationally www.albaspectrum.com, he is Dexterity, SQL, VB/C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer.