Although relatively new to the market, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is making waves among small to midsized growing businesses around the world. Microsoft’s newest cloud ERP product is touted as the “all-in-one” business management solution and has been equipped with the latest technology to manage financials, automate the supply chain, and optimize operations. But like nearly all the Microsoft Dynamics ERPs before it, Business Central claims to have all the native reporting functionality required to meet the financial management needs of small businesses, which we are going to evaluate in this post.
As any controller, bookkeeper, financial manager, accountant or business owner would know, solid financial reporting is essential to proper business function and can serve as the foundation for growth. Business Central comes with out-of-the-box reporting features, including Account Schedules, Microsoft Excel report templates, RDL (using Visual Studio or Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services SSRS), custom XML in Word, and Power BI with Business Central content packs for basic Finance, Sales and CRM. These tools will give you access to the data you need to chart financial performance, analyze data and forecast trends – but you need experienced, technical resources to get you there.
The purpose of financial reporting is to provide easy to understand information about your company’s financial performance, which can then be turned into actionable decisions. Even with all these tools available, Business Central has some significant limitations within its reporting and analytics capabilities that will directly impact your ability to easily create the financial reports you need and make informed decisions.
No matter what size business you run, the ability to format reports to your company standards, personal preference, or the requirements of external agencies (such as banks) is extremely important for visibility, compliance, and efficiency. Business Central comes with only 6 pre-defined Excel reports to analyze your financial statements, with little-to-no room for customizations. To address that, Business Central also has Account Schedules, but these are rigid row/column structured reports created using propriety codes and formulas within the Business Central application itself. So, with no ability to change report formats without an experienced developer, most users are forced to export their reports and manually format them to meet their needs – which introduces redundancy and inaccuracies, and kind of defeats the purpose of an agile, all-in-one system.
Did you know that 9 out of 10 financial spreadsheet reports contain significant errors from human mistakes? The inability to dive deep into your numbers and being forced to rely on manual data entry equates to billions of dollars lost around the world. With that being said, Business Central connects data across accounting, sales, purchasing, inventory, and customer interactions to help automate this process and see financial performance in real-time. However, it doesn’t actually give you the ability to see the underlying details behind every number because you end up having to export and manipulate the Excel spreadsheet manually, which not only causes duplicate work and more errors, it disconnects you from the details behind the numbers.
This might be news to some, but the native Business Central user reporting can only manage one company at a time and has a limited number of dimensions you can report on. For businesses with single entities and basic needs, this shouldn’t pose a problem. But for others, this complicates financial data consolidation and results in the same time-consuming manual processes you were struggling with before.
Change is always hard when introducing a new system to your clients and staff – but it doesn’t mean you should have to pay for developers and technical experts to create or modify financial reports. Although Business Central has strong Microsoft reporting tool compatibility that can address some of the needs that aren’t accessible through the user-based, in-app reporting, they aren’t user friendly without extensive training and experience. For instance, RDL reports allow you more options with formatting and accessing multiple companies but require advanced Visual Studio or SSRS Report Builder skills in order to set up. To be efficient and make data work for your business, reporting needs to be something that every member of your finance and management team should be able to create, modify, and share on their own.
Whether you are looking to move accounting software or bring your Dynamics ERP system to the cloud, there’s a fast and easy way to fill the reporting gaps in Business Central. Jet Reports Financials is a financial reporting tool available for download through Microsoft AppSource that allows you to build and run custom financial reports, directly in a tool that everyone already knows how to use – Excel.
With Jet Reports Financials, you can:
This post originally appeared here on May 9, 2018.