Last week I mentioned the recent announcement by Acumatica which connects Acumatica to Microsoft Excel, Power BI, Power Pivot, and Power Query.
Then I made my case for why I think that Excel and the “Power” tools are a big deal.
What about Report Designer?
But where does the Report Designer in Acumatica fit into all of this?
I personally think that Report Designer is still needed, but only for 5% of your reporting needs.
Report Designer is good for things that you will need to print directly out Acumatica like Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Customer Invoices, Customer Statements, Vendor Checks, and Shipping Paperwork.
As for the other 95% of your reporting needs, I personally don’t think that Report Designer is the best tool.
And it’s not a knock against Report Designer specifically. I know that Report Designer is still kind of new so it can behave strangely sometimes and there are some bugs to work through. But I also don’t think that Crystal or SSRS are the best tools for the 95% either, even though they are very mature reporting tools.
The main knock against reporting tools like Report Designer, Crystal, and SSRS is that they don’t respond well to questions. If you know exactly how you want your report to look like and you know that you aren’t going to change your mind, then they are ok. And that’s the case for things like AP Check reports. But most reports don’t work that way. Most reports are living documents that constantly need to be revised.
Exploring your data
Once you see actual numbers on a report, you start asking questions and you want to slice and dice based on different parameters.
Once a report becomes popular, others begin to ask for additional things to be added so the report can serve the needs of multiple departments. The report continues to evolve as it moves through the organization.
Changing reports in Report Designer, Crystal, or SSRS is like working with hardened concrete. And it can be very difficult to change concrete once it has hardened.
Changing reports in Excel and Power BI is more like working with clay. You can easily make changes to the report as you find yourself asking questions about your data.
So, I think that Excel and Power BI should be the tools of choice for 95% of your reporting needs.
I’ll stop waxing philosophical about Excel. We can roll up our sleeves and get to work building some actual reports.