Ad Hoc Reporting with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013: Microsoft Office Excel Add-in, Microsoft PowerPivot for Excel, and Jet Reports Express

Ad Hoc Reporting with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013: Microsoft Office Excel Add-in, Microsoft PowerPivot for Excel, and Jet Reports Express

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To make a difference in this competitive world, users of today’s ERP solutions want to easily perform analysis and produce reports based on their ERP data to make informed business decisions. They need an easy to use, intuitive environment to help them perform the necessary analysis on their ERP data. In some cases, they also need the ability to enhance the analysis with data from multiple sources or the ability to share the insight of the analysis.

The most popular tool for performing data analysis is Microsoft Excel. Excel is rich with built-in analysis capabilities, such as pivot tables, array formulas, charting, and filtering, all familiar mechanisms to the Excel user.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 offers simple and advanced ad hoc reporting options.

Simple Ad Hoc Reporting

Microsoft Dynamics NAV Excel Add-in
The Microsoft Dynamics NAV Excel Add-in is the solution for those users who want a simple user-friendly ad hoc reporting experience. You simply choose the information you want to analyze and report from predefined lists in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The add-in ties into and expands the existing integrated Send to Excel functionality. It enables you to work with data and format a report and then to keep the data updated. You can share the report, but it is important to note that a user can refresh the report only if the user has access rights to the given area of the application.

The following is a short introduction to the new Microsoft Dynamics NAV Excel Add-in.

1. You can begin analysis from a list in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, for example, Customer Ledger Entries. When you choose Send to Microsoft Excel, the export to Excel will reflect your filtering and choice of columns. In this case, all customer ledger entries are exported, but only the columns chosen by the user.

 2. The exported data is formatted in a data region that you can easily use for pivot analysis. For example, you can use pivot formatting capabilities to see an aggregated view of the ledger entries by month. You can use filtering to view analysis only on open customer ledger entries. So, in this example, you can display expected receivables over time formatted nicely, as well as show the details per transaction.

It is very easy to create this kind of report – it only requires that you know where to find the data in Microsoft Dynamics NAV and have skills in formatting data in Microsoft Excel. To ensure better access to data, all relevant ledger entry pages have been added to navigation in the role centers.

Jet Reports Express for Microsoft Dynamics NAV
In some cases, you may need more than working from list pages provides. You may need to perform many business calculations to get to the correct data – this is typically true when you work on “By Period” data that needs to calculate balances.

Through the powerful Jet Reports Express for Microsoft Dynamics NAV reporting solution, you have a simple way to create these types of self-service reports. You can use the intuitive interface of Jet Reports Express and simple formulas in Excel to create high-impact reports.

Jet Reports Express comes with multiple report templates out-of-the-box and presents findings in a single, well-formatted report.

Advanced Ad Hoc Reporting

For more advanced analysis scenarios, you may need to access more data than what is shown on pages in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In some cases, this is easily solved by simply adding fields to the list pages. In fact, this has been done by many of our partners.

But in some scenarios, this is not sufficient. Your report may require calculations and dimensions for your analysis, which are typically not relevant for the users of the ERP system. In other cases, adding a field can impact application performance, which you probably do not want to do if it’s only for reporting purposes. So consider using the new query object combined with PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel, which can solve this quite efficiently.

One of the strengths of the new query object is its capabilities in retrieving and aggregating data. In scenarios where data is stored in a variety of tables and databases, it is very important to be able to store, manage, and retrieve this data easily and quickly.

Building on the example from above, suppose that you wanted to add information about the customer name, dimensions, or territory. This is possible through query integration to PowerPivot:

1. Creation of a query requires access to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV development environment, but once the query has been defined and exposed through web services, it is very easy for an end user to manipulate the data in Excel. For those interested in the query definition and design, see other posts on using the Query object for reporting and BI on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV Team blog.

2. PowerPivot connects to the Microsoft Dynamics NAV database through OData web services. The link to the correct web service needs to be provided to the user, but after that, the user has access to the data quite easily. When you connect, it is possible to see all queries that are available, from which you can pick and choose.

Conclusion

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 provides you with two approaches to data analysis, a simple and an advanced reporting scenario:

  • The Microsoft Dynamics NAV Microsoft Excel Add-in and Jet Reports Express are designed to be used in end-user scenarios. There are no development requirements involved. Data available from any table and on list pages can easily be accessed and used for analysis.
  • The definition and creation of the query does require knowledge of how to combine tables and how to get the right data. But when the query has been created and made available through a web service, the data is easy to access and use through PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 provides a great set of opportunities for doing ad hoc reporting in Microsoft Excel.

-Rikke Lassen

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