We began as, and still are, a Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) consulting shop, assisting clients with the design, implementation, and operation of their corporate accounting and other enterprise functions.
Part of our practice naturally involved helping clients get the reports they needed from their GP data. We are familiar with the difficulties and frustrations involved in the process, including the limitations of existing third-party reporting packages.
It often seemed to us (and our clients) that when it came to GP reporting, we were in the Red Queen’s world – running twice as fast as it was possible to run!
In particular, analyzing report output has traditionally been difficult and time-consuming. Reporting environments don’t support interactive analysis very well. This means that a lot of time and effort is spent exporting report data (sometimes from multiple reports) for use with another application – typically Excel. The results would be imported into Excel (and in the case of multiple reports, they have to be consolidated), and finally it would be possible to begin analyzing. Of course, the more time that you have to spend on these prelimary activities, the less time (and energy and patience!) you have for actually doing the analysis.
We built the first pivot-type report in response to a client’s request for three separate reports – which were three ways of looking at the same data. Pivot tables are designed to handle this sort of analysis, so we set out to build one report that would be like an Excel Pivot Table, but without all the steps needed to create it.
It was so useful, and made analysis so much easier, that our client quickly requested more. Adding new reports was still a laborious task.
We then built a tool to standardize and facilitate creating new reports. Finally, we merged the two parts – easy report creation, and interactive analysis of the results — into a single application.
We distributed this to a few clients. They liked using it and encouraged us to “go public” and turn our in-house application into a general-purpose one that could be used by anybody to create their own reports.
Some may question our sanity for developing “yet another reporting application” (we have done so ourselves on occasion), but we believe it’s different enough and better enough to be worth your while.