Microsoft has replaced FRx with Management Reporter or MR for short, in all their ERP systems; AX, SL, GP and NAV. FRx has been around for decades, is generally reliable, but could crash, pop up odd connection errors, and depending on the number of trees and complex accounts, could be slow.
Microsoft MR promised to be better integrated with the SQL backend of the financial system, faster, include an FRx conversion utility and to quickly surpass the features of FRx. So far, MR results have been mixed but are improving. Initial users have generally experienced slower performance compared to FRx, and the conversion utility for FRx to MR has been only partially successful. However, Microsoft has committed to – and is delivering – a steady flow of releases containing patches and performance improvements.
There are positives in this story however that are making MR the best option for many of our Dynamics SL customers. First, it is included with SL at no charge and will be enhanced and integrated with future features that Microsoft releases. Additionally, if you have complex trees, MR’s data warehouse is faster than FRx when generating reports. Finally, MR offers a web link publishing feature and includes the ability to detect and warn if you have gaps in your accounts preventing errors in your financial reports.
Here is a pro and con comparison from one of our consultants, Beck Kukis:
So what should your business do when it comes time to upgrade to MR from FRx?
For the smaller segment of our Dynamics SL customers, Management Reporter has one requirement that may be an issue. MR requires a domain, it expects you to be on a network. If you are a single workstation installation, then you have two options, you can elect to host your ERP system in the Cloud to provide the domain environment, or you can replace MR with an Excel based report writer. These include solutions such as JET, Power Pivot, F9, BI 360, Full Circle Budget and others.
If, like most of our customers, you are already on a network or are in the Cloud, then you should weigh the cost and benefits of the MR upgrade compared to starting fresh with an Excel based report writer. I generally ask if you consider yourself an Excel power user. If so, you will like the Excel report writers. If not, then MR maybe a safer bet and offers the more economical long term solution.
If you want to do more than just financial reporting, then the Excel based systems start to look better, F9, BI 360 and Full Circle Budget come with enhanced budgeting features. If you want to get into more business intelligence, combining data from CRM, HR, operations systems and other disparate systems, then BI360 checks all the boxes, but you pay extra for those features.
I see MR going through the typical Microsoft product release process. The first MR release, with SL 2011, had lots of promise but also a few bugs and performance problems. The second release that works with SL 2015, contains fixes, a data mart for performance and additional features making it a better solution for most SL customers. There have also been several additional MR releases independent of the SL releases. Based on prior Microsoft products, MR will continue to get better and a couple of years down the road, will be the dominant, market leading solution. The question is, can you handle the bumps in the road until the product feels like a freshly paved expressway?
Each business has unique needs, on top of the day to day work we all do. Call or drop me a note and we can discuss the options that best fit your business. firstname.lastname@example.org 614-568-2119