With Long List of New Benefits, Microsoft Set to Launch Management Reporter 2012

Microsoft is set to release Management Reporter 2012, the latest version of its financial reporting and analysis solution for Microsoft Dynamics ERP, and with Convergence 2012 just around the corner, financial reporting experts are eagerly awaiting  the chance to learn about the latest capabilities.

Management Reporter replaces Microsoft FRx and has been adding new features aimed at improving functionality and performance beyond its predecessor. It's launch date is in the March 2012-April 2012 timeframe.  The Microsoft Dynamics Corporate Performance Management blog has been busy highlighting individual features of the new release for about two months.

Management Reporter 2012 aims to offer have more flexibility to designing reports. It also enables collaboration with co-workers, auditors and others during the design, distribution and viewing processes. And the solution offers a deeper integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems, including drilling back to the Dynamics ERP data.

Char Gust, a Microsoft group program manager, who focuses on Management Reporter, outlined some of the new and enhanced features in Management Reporter 2012 at a recent online meeting of the Microsoft Dynamics GP User Group.

One of the enhanced features offered by Management Reporter 2012 is the Interactive Report Viewing, which is designed to improve the report viewing experience.

"We tried to make the report viewing process more collaborative and more useful for the person consuming the report," she said.

The Interactive Report Viewer lets users:

  • Attach comments to important rows in a report version that other people can also see. However, only the user who created the comments or an admin can delete the comments;
  • Quickly create a chart based upon selected report rows and columns, which is also available to anyone looking at the report;
  • Integration with Microsoft Lync allows you to start a discussion about the report you're looking at using Microsoft Lync 2010. This feature is designed to improve productivity because it takes less time for you to find the answers to your questions, and to be more responsive to employee questions. Using Lync with Management Reporter increases the efficiency of your business by allowing everyone to get the answers they need in a more timely fashion.
  • Copy comments from one version of a report to another;                 
  • More easily navigate a report with the new paging and find capabilities;
  • Jump to key areas of the report for fast analysis. Quick links are dynamically created to let report consumers jump to key areas of a report in the Report Viewer, allowing them to quick scan the information important to them.
  • Locate key features in Report Viewer with an enhanced toolbar that includes more icons so you can easily identify options that are available while viewing;
  • Find a key value in a report, such as an account value or description.

Gust said Management Reporter 2012 also offers deeper integration with Dynamics ERP solutions, including a laundry list of features that include:

  • For Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics NAV a data mart that is used to report on the information from the general ledger into Management Reporter. The data is trickled into the data mart so it's always real time and very close to live so reports are up to date at any time;
  • The ability to drill back from the Management Reporter Report Viewer into the Dynamics ERP application for account balances and budget balances;
  • Dynamically align reporting trees with Dynamics AX organizational hierarchies;
  • Dynamics ERP companies integrated with Management Reporter. New companies added in Dynamics AX 2012 and Dynamics NAV are automatically added to Management Reporter and any change to the company name will be reflected in Management Reporter;
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics SL customers can import new companies with one click

For Microsoft MVP Mariano Gomez, a self-described technical guy who doesn't often get excited about financial reporting, "Management Reporter 2012 is simply the best darn financial reporting product produced to date by Microsoft. This release revolves around four core themes: interactive report viewing, deeper Dynamics ERP integration, report collaboration, and design flexibility."

On the ERP Software blog, Kristi Tallent, Director of Sales & Marketing, Associates Solutions Inc., also offers some insight into Management Reporter 2012 based on information from Microsoft.  Tallent said the feature her company really likes is the Missing Account Analysis, which helps you check for missing accounts before you generate reports.

Tallent said Management Reporter 2012 also helps companies that need to distribute financial reports to multiple destinations including SharePoint locations or network shares, or even one location. Management Reporter 2012 lets you specify a single Report Library location or multiple Report Library locations, as well as multiple network or SharePoint locations.

The ability to enter comments at the financial, account, and transaction level of a report, a common feature request, according to Tallent, that will save many customers hours while they're collaborating with others during the process. The comments can be copied to various versions of the report and they can even be exported out to excel with the reports.

Other favorite features include the ability to generate multiple reports in just one click with report groups, and rolling forecast headers that give users headers that dynamically span columns based on the period and report dates. This feature is great for rolling forecasts, where some columns contain actual data, and some columns contain budget/forecast data. Then each month, as the report date is changed, the headers will also update, reducing the maintenance and user error involved with creating and generating rolling forecast reports.

But for all the hype Jack Boyer, founder of Boyer & Associates, suggests not upgrading to Management Reporter 2012 just yet.

"Wait for the MR service pack where the speed of reports catches up to what you are used to with FRx," he said in a blog post. "Management Reporter has a more up-to-date look and feel but some features such as Webport are still missing. Do not upgrade to MR until you've discussed this with your partner as you may have some features in FRx you are currently using (such as what the Webport component delivers) that you cannot afford to have go away."

About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in Massachusetts. She has written about information technology for 10 years. She has been a journalist since the late 1980s. She wrote for numerous community newspapers in the Boston area, where she covered politics and was a high-profile investigative reporter. She has freelanced for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. She is the published author of four true crime books "Murder at Morses Pond," "An Act of Murder," "Ripper", and "Bone Crusher" for Kensington Publishing Corp. (Pinnacle imprint). She has just started her fifth true crime book for Kensington.

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MR Features

What about Row Linking? With FRx, you could create a summary report that pulled amounts from a detail report, so only the Row Format of the detail report had to be updated for new accounts. With MR, both the detail and the summary Row Definitions have to be maintained. Bring back Row Linking!