These are some of the most important things to know about Management Reporter
You really don’t need to know everything about MR to create effective reports. Here I’ve pared it down to the ones I think are most important to know when just starting out.
The version as I write this is Management Reporter 2012 RU5.
- Lose the Day of the Week in the title of a report—It looks funny for a balance sheet to be dated ‘Friday, May 31, 2013’. This was driving people crazy; here’s how to fix it. This fixes it in the Report Viewer. Not the Web Viewer—sigh. (Update on 7/16/13: here’s how to fix it in the Web Viewer. Probably.)
- The Report Viewer is losing out to the Web Viewer—looks like all new development is focused on the Web Viewer and no more attention will be paid to the Report Viewer. As of RU5, the Web Viewer is the default. You can download a report to the Report Viewer if you need to. Heads up—these two viewers display reports differently. Going forward, make sure your reports work for the web viewer.
- Navigation essentials—learn the built in navigational shortcuts. The icons for Open Report Definition, Open Row Definition, Open Column Definition, and Open Tree Definition will save you so much time!
- Don’t round a balance sheet—unless you know the ramifications. I’m talking about using Edit>Rounding Adjustment in the row definition. When it goes out of balance, MR plugs the outage regardless of the limit you give it. That might be ok, except that there isn’t a pop-up box to warn you that it’s out of balance. There is a warning in the report queue status, but it’s quite likely you won’t notice the warning. So it’s possible to publish an inaccurate balance sheet. Stranger things have happened, so be careful.
- Check accuracy—I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a trained monkey could create MR reports. But how accurate would they be? It’s essential to check accuracy on every report created. On a balance sheet, you can tell at a glance whether it’s out of balance. Not so with a P&L. I add a check total at the bottom of every P&L that consists of an appropriate range of P&L accounts, plus an out of balance calculation that shows up in bold red when the report is out of balance. Bottom line—think about accuracy on every single report.
- Drill to Dynamics—Make sure the Detail level in the report definition is set to include transaction detail or you won’t get the opportunity to drill to Dynamics. Marvelous feature for seeing the original transaction in the ERP. Here’s how: drilldown to the Account level, then click on a number and the Drill to Dynamics icon will become enabled (you can also right click). If the ERP client is installed, the appropriate screen in the ERP opens.
- Understand the Dimension concept—for FRx users, understanding this concept can drive report design simplifications. For example, in FRx you needed a reporting tree to create a department list. But because Management Reporter is dimension-aware, no tree is needed to create a simple department list. This dimension-aware aspect lends itself to using dimensions throughout rows, columns, and trees to create unusual reports whether you’re a former FRx user or not.
- Use Dimension Value Sets to streamline maintenance—a Dimension Value Set is a group of accounts that has a name and can be used in many different row, column, or tree definitions. So you create a set, use it in lots of places, but maintain it in one place.
- SharePoint Distribution—you can generate reports to SharePoint that the user can open with a web browser. Here’s how: on the Output and Distribution tab in the report definition, enter a report library location (or just let it default), then enter a link to a SharePoint location. (There’s some initial configuration needed to get MR to generate to SharePoint; here’s a Microsoft how to video.) Once the report is in the document library, SharePoint users will be able to see it as long as they have at least an MR Viewer license (all security is enforced). Reports will open in the Web Viewer (meaning a late-model browser). The SharePoint user can set up alerts as well.
- Sort by Natural—until Microsoft adds Subtotals, this box should be checked if you want to make any sense at all of your drilldowns. It will sort drilldowns by account. In the report definition, go to the Settings tab, Other button, Account & Transaction Detail tab, and check ‘Sort by natural or main segment’. This will sort your drilldowns by the main account instead of by the first dimension. The best long term solution will be for Microsoft to add Subtotal capability; you can find information on how to vote in my post Beer and View Subtotals.
- Datamart will soon be the only option—right now there are 2 options when you install MR: a datamart and a ‘legacy provider’ that talks directly to the ERP database. Once the datamart has every feature that the legacy provider has, the legacy provider is going to be phased out. Probably sooner than later…guessing before calendar 2013 ends. Heads up on this architecture change. Good news is that it’s an ‘almost live’ datamart.
- Use Show Summary Lines Only—in the Web Viewer, one of the options under Show is Summary Lines Only. You can toggle this on and off to show or hide detail, thus going from a summary report to a detail report with a couple of clicks. Very cool.
There’re more tips and tricks as well as more information on most of these tips in my two manuals Creating Reports in Management Reporter I—How to Create 4 Foundation Reports and Creating Reports in Management Reporter II—Step by Step Instructions on a Dozen More Reports.
Lots more to know about MR; feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comments.