Our company is in a unique position to compare Microsoft Dynamics GP to Acumatica. After decades of working with Microsoft Dynamics GP, we started selling Acumatica almost 3 years ago. Plus, we now use Acumatica to run our own business.
My first post in this series compared 11 system-wide features of Acumatica versus Dynamics GP. The next will compare Acumatica versus Dynamics GP General Ledger features. This post looks at one of my favorite topics, reporting, and the differences between Acumatica Generic Inquiries and Microsoft Dynamics GP SmartLists.
Generic Inquiry vs. SmartList/SmartList Builder
- Free out of the box functionality – no add on tools necessary
- Easier to use, minimal technical knowledge needed
- Faster results
- Drill down functionality
- Personal or shared filters
- Conditional formatting
- Side panels
Generic Inquiries in Acumatica are comparable to SmartLists in Microsoft Dynamics GP. Both SmartList and Generic Inquiries are ad hoc querying tools. The advantage of Generic Inquiries is, number one, it is free.
SmartList has a core set of SmartLists offered in Dynamics GP, plus Dynamics GP now includes a tool called SmartList Designer that allows you to build or enhance Smartlists. But it is very limited in functionality. So, if you are looking for richer functionality sets, you have to buy the full SmartList Builder tool.
Again this means you end up having to purchase an add-on to Dynamics GP to get a lot of the functionality that most users need when trying to build these inquiries. Acumatica, out of a box, comes with all of the functionality that is in SmartList Builder, plus much more.
One nice feature included in Acumatica is conditional formatting. When you add conditional formatting to Generic Inquiries, it will highlight specific fields. For example, if you have an AR Aging generic inquiry, you can have conditional formatting that says, “For any customer that has a balance greater than 90 days past due, highlight all the customer names in red.” That draws your eye to those companies, and you don’t have to go searching for them. There are so many ways that conditional formatting can make it easier to view your data.
I also feel that Generic Inquiries are a lot easier to use without any technical knowledge. SmartList Builder requires more of a technical background and more training. In many cases, you have to understand somewhat how a relational database works, and it is helpful to have a bit of SQL knowledge to use SmartList Builder. That limits the number of individuals that can take advantage of it. Those technical skills are not necessarily required to use the Generic Inquiry tool in Acumatica.
Both SmartList Builder and Generic Inquiries allow drill-down functionality. I will say, though, that the advantage with Generic Inquiries is that the results are so much faster. With SmartList Builder, you can sit there and watch that counter running. Generic Inquiries in Acumatica produce results almost immediately, even for large data sets.
SmartList Builder has “favorites” where you can add a personal favorite or share a favorite across companies. Generic Inquiries has something similar called “filters.” You can create a personal or shared filter and share those based on what makes sense to your business.
Another piece of functionality Acumatica has that Dynamics GP does not have, is called side panels. A side panel is basically an additional form in Acumatica that can open up the inside of the Generic Inquiry. A good example of that is if you are looking at an AR aging document that is past due. If you select that record, you can have a side panel pop-up that is actually a link to the customer form. This would open a form right on the side of the inquiry that would show all the customer’s information, so you could easily get to the phone number to call about the overdue invoice. You can create these side panels to relate a record that you selected to any other form. This is really powerful as far as ease of navigation and the ability to link forms that have something in common.
As I mentioned, you can review my first post in this series, Advantages of Acumatica versus Dynamics GP – Core Financials System-Wide Features and the next will compare Acumatica versus Dynamics GP General Ledger features.
By Stacey Poll, Senior Implementation/Training Advisor, CAL Business Solutions, Acumatica and Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner, www.calszone.com