As a Dynamics GP user you already own Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). But do you know what SSRS is and what it can do for your company? In this interview with Dawn Pleil, Software Developer/Support Specialist with CAL Business Solutions we will get back to the basics and answer several frequently asked questions and provide an overview of SSRS.
Anya: What is Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?
Dawn: Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a reporting tool that is included with the purchase of Microsoft Dynamics GP. SSRS allows you to create reports from Dynamics GP that are accessible online from a secure web browser. So the report is displayed in a web page format which is very easy to use. It has the look and feel of a high level sophisticated reporting system with the features of a web browser and it allows you to export the data easily to PDF or to Excel or Word.
Anya: Does SSRS need to be installed?
Dawn: Yes, if a company owns Dynamics GP they own SSRS too, but it still would need to be installed separately and the reports would need to be deployed. The reporting services web site would need to be configured and the other reporting tools for SSRS would need to be configured and installed. So there is a bit of setup work that needs to be done to use this feature.
Anya: How easy is it to prepare SSRS reports?
Dawn: Dynamics GP comes with a set of standard pre-built SSRS reports that can be deployed. But it is fairly easy to configure and create your own reports too. There are different reporting tools that are available that will allow someone with limited experience to actually create a very professional looking SSRS report. Or CAL Business Solutions can create the reports for our clients.
Anya: Why would you want to use SSRS to publish reports?
Dawn: If you have a report in Dynamics GP, without SSRS those reports are only available to people who are logged into Dynamics GP to view data. Of course you can publish them as a PDF and pass that report around, but the information is old as soon as it comes out of the printer, it is a snapshot of a point of time. With an SSRS report the data is refreshed automatically with a click of a button. SSRS reports are always up to date and can reach a larger audience of decision makers.
Anya: Who can view SSRS reports?
Dawn: You don’t need to have Dynamics GP loaded on your computer to be able to run the SSRS reports that are deployed to your secure web page. With the proper network setup and firewall configurations it is possible to expose the SSRS web page outside your organization too. Your networking framework can be configured to allow outside vendors or partners, with a user name and password, to also view the data you publish.
Anya: Are SSRS reports secure?
Dawn: You control who has the ability to access your SSRS reports with security settings. The data in the SSRS reports is not able to be edited, SSRS reports are for viewing only. So there is no chance that an outside person would be able to edit your Dynamics GP data, or see additional data beyond what you have put in the report.
Anya: What do SSRS reports look like?
Dawn: You can get very creative with SSRS and the reports can look very professional. It gives you the ability to expand and compress sections so that you can expose or hide the detail levels. It also allows you to add links to fields within your document to show subreports. You can use different colored fonts and sizes, bold headings, borders and all kinds of fancy‑looking options. They can easily be used in presentations or shown to people in upper management or clients, customers or vendors with confidence. This is similar to what you could do in Crystal reports and I think this gives Dynamics GP users better out of the box professional looking reporting options.
Anya: Can you organize SSRS reports?
Dawn: You can create menus and subcategories to organize your SSRS reports by different product lines, for example, where you may want all of your sales reports together and all of your purchasing reports together and things of that nature. You can also organize your reports by company so if you’re running multiple companies in Dynamics GP you would have them each on their own tabs. When you are running your sales reports for Company A you would see Company A on top of everything and Company B; and then you could also create combined reports across all of your companies. This is quite easy to do in SSRS.”
Anya: Can you give an example of how a CAL client is using SSRS?
Dawn: One example is our Dynamics GP client, Innovative Medical Products (IMP), that is a medical device manufacturer and distributor. IMP is using SSRS quite extensively and they actually created all of their own reports. In our case study of the project we describe how IMP wanted to show commission data on a real time basis to their outside sales reps, instead of mailing a print out of those reports each month with the commission checks. IMP saved a substantial amount of time, and paper, each month by deploying these SSRS reports and they are very happy with SSRS.”
You can watch the short IMP case study video at www.calszone.com/imp-video to hear them talk about the success of their SSRS project.
SSRS is a powerful tool that can easily be deployed with Microsoft Dynamics GP. Ask yourself, what reports do you run over and over again? What data do you want to easily share with a larger audience of people – outside of Dynamics GP or even outside your organization?
If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics GP and SSRS contact CAL Business Solutions at 860-485-0910 x4 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Anya Ciecierski, CAL Business Solutions, www.calszone.com