Top 5 things you need to know about reporting in Business Central
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Thank you for attending everybody, just a few housekeeping rules to begin with. All attendees will be on mute and will remain for the whole webinar. Please use the question box if you do have any questions either related to the demo, or any questions about the topic, and we’ll answer them either at the time through the chat box or directly offline afterwards. Please note there will be a link to view the webinar recording that we sent to all attendees after the demo.
So this is the 21st in the series of our monthly webinars on key areas of NAV and Business Central. You can sign up for as many as you like on the website. I’ll show you the list of upcoming webinars for this year at the end of the session where we do also send out regular emails to register for the next one.
Okay, my name is Karen and I’m facilitating the demo today. I’m an account manager here at TVision. I’ve been here for a couple of years and my background is 19 years of software account management experience working for ERP companies. Ian, who normally does the demo today, isn’t available. However, he has recorded the demo part. So if you don’t have any questions related to the content of the demo submit them as normal through the question box, but we’ll answer them directly after the webinar.
Okay, so on the topic of reporting in NAV and Business Central, there are a lot of reporting requirements that can be done in the solution. You don’t always have to go to external solutions. So in this webinar, we’re going to show you the various reporting facilities and methods that are available directly in the solution.
If you don’t have the time to spend time creating new reports, because a lot of them do come as standard, so you can use them as they are or you can amend them as required. Also in this webinar we would like to challenge what your idea of reporting is. Is really all you’re doing is displaying information in a set way in order to answer a question or a set of questions. So the result isn’t always just to produce an Excel spreadsheet. You might want to see the information in a chart form or dashboard of areas to focus on, or just a very quick way of getting straight down into the detail. Another way of conveying information is to filter existing list views, which you can then save in order to retrieve them at a later date with the refresh data.
So these top five areas we’re going to show you about reporting are: dashboards, standard reports, account schedules, opening Excel and filtering. We’ve actually done webinars on account schedules and filtering in the past. So if you do need further information on these we recommend watching them in the past webinar section on our website.
Just before the demo. We would like to understand what type of reporting is most important to you. So I’m going to launch a poll now. If you wouldn’t mind submitting the answer, that be great, and then we’ll go on to Ian’s pre-recorded demo.
So I’m just distributing the pole now. If you wouldn’t mind just putting in your answers, that would be brilliant.
And just give it a few more seconds and then I’ll let you know what the result was.
Okay, so it’s very interesting a hundred percent of people have basically said that all types of reporting that we have suggested are most important. So, so that’s good. Okay.
Okay. So now I’m just going to press play on Ian’s pre-recorded demo. As I said, it has been recorded before. The audio might not be a hundred percent brilliant, but it will come out in the recording.
Hi guys, sorry I couldn’t be with you today, I’m on vacation at the moment. So this is a recorded presentation, I hope everything goes to plan. For today’s presentation I’m using the latest version of Business Central – that’s version 15.
But everything I’m going to tell you today applies to all versions of Business Central. 99% of it applies when you’re using one the newer versions of NAV with the role tailored client. And over 90% of it still applies if you’re using really old version such as version 5 of NAV with the really old grey menus. I will tell you when we come to bits that are different.
So the first thing is that we’ve had quite a few webinars or different reporting strategies, we’ve spoken about Jet Reports, Power BI, things like that, but a lot of people have been asking what do you get in the box? What comes as standard? So if you don’t want to use a third-party reporting tool, whilst you don’t want to go outside the system – what can you do reporting wise within NAV or Business Central? So that’s what we’re going to look at today.
The first thing to remember is when you open Business Central, your home screen is actually a report. So quite apart from having your menus at the top, if you’re on NAV you’d have your menus down the side, but bulk of the screen is taken up with reports. And these are dashboard or KPI style reports to kind of give you an overview of what’s going on on your system. So it’s telling me about overdue documents, incoming documents, bank account balances, activities I might need to do my customer accounts, you know, my customers that I’m interested in etc.
One of the things to remember, this home screen is customizable, so we can change the elements that are on this screen. And it’s something that you can change yourself. And also it’s fully interactive. So it’s not just a debt report that tells me there are 13 documents due today. I can click on that number 13, and it’s going to drill down and tell me where did those 13 documents come from?
Once I drill down I can drill into any of those documents. I can have a look at it, and I can decide what course of action to take. Whether I’m going to process this or not. So it’s a live report that lets you do something. So looking at it. We have our little action buttons here, which are, you know, the most common things for, I’ve logged in as an accountant, so these are the most common things that accountant might be interested in.
If I logged in as a sales order processor, I would have buttons here for sales orders, return orders, inventory Etc. If I’ve logged in as a buyer, it will be purchase orders, purchase invoices and the like, so any of these is a report, it’s telling me what’s going on, and it’s interactive. And if I look further down the screen. I’ve got a list of my accounts – these are the GL accounts that I’m really interested.
And again, this is customizable. If I hit the little down arrow. I can manage the list, I can add new accounts. So I’m interested in what kind of cash accounts, my debtor’s accounts. Over here I’ve got a list of my top customers, and again, fully interactive so I can click on any one of these elements of this chart. Let’s click on this one, Adatum.
It tells me about Adatum Corporation, and it gives me another one of these dashboard style reports, telling me about the number of ongoing sales documents, the number of invoices, shipments that we’ve sent to this customer. What’s their balance and their payment history? Credit limit etc.
So it’s a report, its entering activities, it’s there on my electing screen. And I’m not limited to this report. If I don’t like this report, again customizable, I can go I can look at a different report. Now I’m looking at a cash flow report instead. I can go through all the various different reports, or I can go and select one. Let’s have a look at my income and expense.
Nothing exciting there. Nothing’s much happening in this demo company. But again, it’s fully customizable. Any element on the report you can drill down on. Next element I’ve got my cash flow forecast, I don’t have cash flow set up on this system. I’ve just put it here as a demonstration that I can have it.
And again it is customizable. Do I want to look and change or balanced or do I look at it by day, week month for periods Etc. If I have any reports that are due, they would appear in my report inbox. I’ve got my self-service section down here, if I have to fill in timesheets. It’s a report of how many timesheets I need to fill in, or how many I need to approve.
And if I am using an external tool such as Power BI, I can even embed them on my home screen. So my home screen is, the first report that I see is my dashboard KPI style report. Nice and handy. It’s customized to my role within the company.
But sometimes, you know, you don’t just want these cues and dashboards style things, you want to do some unent reporting for instance. So within the system there are a lot of standard reports. How do you find them? Go and have a look at the menus.
So all my menus are up here. I can see, I’ve got GL reports, cash flow reports, customer or vendor repots Etc. I have a whole menu option full of different types of reports. Ones that I’d send to Excel, ones that are just printed on screen. If there’s a report that I’m looking for that I can’t see, I always have my search button.
So let’s say I want to look at some inventory reporting. So I might type inventory, I might type items. Let’s type item. And it gives me tasks that I can do with items, not so interested in that, but it also gives me reports that I can do for items. And there are a total of 23 reports on the system that have got something to do with items. I can extend that, I can see a list of all my various item reports.
And this is not every item report. This is just the ones that have item in the title. I can click on any of them and I can run the report. There’s lots of them. Let’s say somebody has asked me, they want me to do an inventory ageing report, or an item ageing report.
I don’t have a menu option for that. Let me go do a search very specifically for item ageing.
And there’s item age by value, item age by quantity.
Click on any of them. Its standard reporting I’ve put in the filters that I’m interested in, so I can search for a specific item or posting group etc. or location – anything like that.
I can preview the report which will pop it up on the screen.
Or I can send to. Now when I preview the report in Business Central, it gives me a very nice-looking report – in a kind of a PDF format. I can change my zoom options, I can download this report, send it to the printer etc. If I’m using an older version for one of these reports, let me get up that same report again.
Item ageing, by quantity, instead of previewing the report on the screen, which in older versions isn’t quite as nice, I can send the two, send it Word, send it to Excel or view it as a PDF document. Viewing it as a PDF document is sometimes nice, as I say, you get these options for page up page down zooming Etc. So if you’re on an older version, sometimes looking at the PDF is a nicer way to look at your reports.
There’s loads of these standard reports all around the system. So if you were interested for instance in resources, what kind of reports are available? Just go up, search for resource.
And you will see – and reports and analysis. There are nine reports to do with resources in the title. If you’re looking for something more specific, you could type in I’m looking for resources utilisation for example, and this will pop up at the top.
All the reports work in the way that you’re used to, when you put in any filters, dates, departments Etc. that you need – you click either preview or download send to Excel, send to Word, send to PDF.
All of these standard reports you will notice that their not very sexy, so when you run one of these reports, let’s have a look, choose a GL trial balance report for example. I’ll put in my filters, I’m not going to put in any filters, I’ll just take everything.
This is not a sexy report. It doesn’t have my company logo up in the top corner, the font is boring, the colours aren’t very exciting. If I wanted to pick something to present to a board of directors, for instance, maybe this isn’t the report that I would turn push out for them. But one thing we can say about this report. It’s a standard report from the system so I can trust that these numbers are 100% accurate. They’re not from an Excel spreadsheet where somebody might have been a mistake with one of their formulas or something.
I can trust these numbers and to me that’s more important than looking pretty good. But if you do need it to look pretty, there are always ways to improve on these reports. So, I’ve spoken about the dashboard homepage report, the standard reports that exist in the system – and I encourage you to have a look at these reports.
You’re going to break anything while running report, is just going to show you information. You might find a really useful report you didn’t know existed that really helps you with your day-to-day activities.
When you’ve got some kind of reporting requirement that the standard reports just don’t quite do it for you. If you’re doing a financial report, there’s a built-in reporting tool within Business Central, and NAV even older versions called ‘account schedules’. If your home screen doesn’t have a menu option for account schedules, you can always go and search for it.
I happen to know because, I’m in finance, I’ve got account schedules on one of my menus. So let’s go have a look what are account schedules. Basically, these are fully customizable financial reports. Any of these reports, we can change to suit our needs. I wouldn’t recommend changing these reports you do get an option to copy this schedule.
Which creates you a new report, which you can then fiddle with your copy, leave the original there in case you make a mistake. You can always come back to the original which you know is correct.
But these are so simple, you can create them from scratch. Let’s say we want a very simple sales report for our sales team. We create a new report…
All we have to do is give it a name. I’ll just call it ‘sales’.
And we choose what the default columns are – I’ll give it an appearance like everything else, and that’s pretty much it. I now have a blank report down here called sales. It doesn’t do anything yet because we haven’t told it how it works. But these are pretty easy to edit for my sales report. I get a lot of options in here – I’m going to give this a row number. Notice I say leading 0, that does come in very handy later on.
I would always encourage you to put in those leading zeros.
My first line is going to be my sales amounts. I’m going to get it on the General Ledger account. That’s going to be the totalling account.
Which one? …
And I can choose from the list. I want my total income on this account. I also want to show my cost of goods sold on this report. So I’m going to add a second row.
And this is going to be my cost of goods sold. And again, I’m going to get this from a totally account. And I’ll get it from, hopefully I’ve got one. Yes my total cost to consult. So I’ve got this.
As I said, this is fully customizable are not just limited to reporting what’s in my GL account, so I can bring formulas as well. So let’s prepare the little formula and give you some total. It’s going to be a formula and I’m going to say whatever is in row 10, up here, add what’s in row 20.
And that’s going to give me a total. So I’ve designed a report from scratch, that was pretty quick. Let’s go have a look and see what it tells me. I get this beautiful screen where I can put in some options here, but it’s telling me those are my 3 rows, sales, cost of goods sold, total – those are the numbers. Just looking at this, if I’m working in finance, I know that minus 95,000 is very good.
And that is showing a profit, but maybe the guys in sales, if I’m giving it to them. They are not going to be happy seeing negative numbers there, but let me go back, let me change this report, see how easy it is to change. So I’m just gonna take the option here to flip the plus and minus signs on my report. I can see my changes have been saved. Let’s go back and look at the view.
There we go, my report has changed. Now my sales are showing as positive – heavy sales team, but I’ve got options here. I am looking at this by year. I could look at it by quarter, month or week. I can choose a different date filter with a different year for example. I can filter by either of my Global Dimensions, so department and customer group are my global dimensions, and I can even put a budget on here if I want to report against budget.
Reporting against budget, I’m not seeing budget anywhere on this report. That’s because my column layout doesn’t show any budgets. So I’m not limited to just showing these three periods. I can go and look at the balance of these accounts, and it just shows me the balance at that ending date. I could look at the change in the accounts.
It shows me the change within this date period, or I have actuals.
Now I have an actuals column and a budget column, I can tell the system which budget to use and I don’t have any budgets to choose. But imagine I did. I’d the budget numbers here and there’s nothing to stop me putting in another formula to say show me the variance between the budget of the actuals because these column layouts are just as customizable as the report lines themselves. So with your account schedules, these are financial reports they are fully customizable.
You can show your information in the format that you need to show it, with as much detail as you want or as little detail as you need. So you can choose to show some summary accounts at the top and then detail further down. Or you can put the detailed between the summaries.
You can lay it out the way that your management, board of directors expect to see all these reports. Once again, when you’re looking at the reports, you have the ability to put in your filters for various Dimensions, various date periods, and when you’ve got numbers on those reports.
You can click on them and it will take you to where it got those numbers from so again, it’s a fully interactive report. This is out of the box. If you do need any help setting up the account schedules, it takes a little bit of training, but we’ve done a previous webinar on this if you just drop Karen a line, she’ll send you a link to the webinar and you can see how easy it is to build some really nice account schedules.
There is, if you’re within Business Central, a really nice option for looking at a lot of reports. Quite often you seeing something on the screen and you want to produce a report. So I’m an accountant. Let’s look at my chart of accounts. Oops, I’ve got a filter on. Let me take all my filters off.
I’m looking at my total chart of accounts. Simple report. I just want to produce this as a report, like a trial balance type of report.
Within Business Central you get the option to open in Excel. So anywhere where you see this kind of griddle like type of information, click on the open an Excel and it downloads in Excel for you, which you can open.
And, as quick as your machine is…
There’s the information that I had on my screen. Again, it doesn’t look stunning. But it’s here in Excel. I can use my Excel Wizardry to make this look as pretty as I want to, I can put in formulas.
I can do what/if analysis, I can put in a pivot table here if I wanted to, I can pretty much pull out any kind of report against my chart of accounts that I want to. I’m not just limited to my chart of accounts, if I was to go and get a list of customers or vendors, there’s customers.
Again, it’s a kind of a grid-like layout.
I can open in Excel. It will open in Excel with exactly the same columns that I’m just laying on my screen.
You’ll notice in Business Central, you’ve got this button… If you’re in an old version of NAV, you would have to select the rows. Right click copy, open Excel and paste. You’d achieve the same result. Just that there’s a nice little shortcut button in Business Central. You’ll also notice there’s this edit in Excel button. That’s not for reporting. If you edit in Excel, it opens up the spreadsheet you can change account descriptions, customer names, credit limits etc.
And then send them back to NAV. So that’s not for reporting. This one’s for reporting. This is a different webinar completely.
So you’ve got your ability to send information to Excel, especially for accountants’, operations people, that’s fantastic – very comfortable, working in Excel, building your reports from data. But sometimes you get too much information on the screen. Here I’ve got a whole list of customers, you can imagine a big company, I might have a thousand customers on this list. I don’t want to send them all to Excel.
Not a problem. We can apply filters. So I’m only interested in customers who have a balance that’s not equal zero. So let me put on a filter, where their balance is not equal to zero.
You will notice that a zero balance customer has disappeared, and now if I open this in Excel. One, two, three, four rows, and in Excel, once again, wait a few seconds for it to open.
One, two, three, four. What I export to Excel is exactly what I’m seeing on the screen – so pretty much anything I can filter to within Business Central or NAV I can report within Excel.
I could show only customers who have balance due greater five thousand pounds for example, that’s all that I would send. If I was on my homescreen, I went to my chart of accounts.
There’s a lot of these heading accounts here. Perhaps I want to download a trial balance without these headings. Again, I can put on a filter, only show where the account type is a posting account.
From here I can open in Excel.
It’s only going to send through my posting accounts, not all those summary accounts. So again, I’ve got this on the screen, I don’t have to send it to Excel.
So from here, any of the numbers that I’m seeing, work in exactly the same way. I can drill down on them and I can see where did they come from? Get to the transactions behind this and from within here, I can always navigate to go and see what was the original sales or purchase document – where this came from.
Which other GL accounts did this go to? So very live, very interactive filtering.
And pretty much every screen that you’re looking at within Business Central or within NAV is in itself a report. You can download, you can do something that is… so if you can find the information on a screen within Business Central you can send it to Excel, and you can report on it. You don’t have to learn any fancy reporting tools or anything like that. It’s just your basic Excel skills.
So what I’ve spoken about so far is your landing screen, your home screen, is the KPI dashboard type report. It’s fully interactive. It is fully customizable. How you customize it? You’ve got that little gearbox up in the top. This is really good in Business Central, not so fantastic in the older versions. You’d need IT help to do it.
But within Business Central, I can personalise, I can highlight any elements – if I don’t want to see the cash flow anymore. I can choose to hide it. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to leave it there, but then you’re making the change, you’re making it for yourself, you’re not hurting anybody else’s homescreen, it’s just yours. You see it the way you need to see it. You see the report the way you need to see it.
So you’ve got that KPI dashboard landing. You’ve got your standard reports. Which you get on your homescreen that apply to you. You can always search for more, and if you’re on the latest version, you’re going to get those three little lines and it will show you other people’s role centres, what reports do they have available?
So I’m an accountant, let me go and explore other people’s role and somebody in purchasing for example.
Let me go and explore what they have, and here, I can see within purchasing there’s a whole host of reports to do with vendors’, inventory and inventory costing Etc.
Any of them, even though they’re not my menus, I can click on them, and it would take me to the place in the system where I could actually run that report.
So you’ve got all of those standard reports, remember they’re very accurate. The numbers are good. They just don’t look pretty.
But it’s called the information that you need. Anything you can’t get from a standard report, if it’s financial in nature, you’ve got your account schedules. And again, your account schedules are fully customizable. You can create your own, you can change the ones that are there. You can make copies of them and adopt them to make them the way you want them.
And you always have anywhere in system where you can get a kind of a list view. So bank accounts. I’ve got a list view, not very exciting, but I can send it to Excel.
And I’ve got the basis of report there. And again any of them. I can place filters on these lists so that I only send information to Excel that I’m looking for. Once again guys, this has been recorded. So I’m not going to be able to answer any questions. But if you do have questions, please drop Karen a line, and she’ll get one of our Consultants to get back to you as quick as she can. Cheers.
Okay. So, if you do have any questions, you can either drop me a line or you can put it into the question box now if you want to. Like I said, that is all recorded within our system so we can answer you directly afterwards via email. So now I just like to leave you with the 5 key takeaways about reporting and Business Central and NAV.
First of all, think about why you’re doing the report. Always have the end in mind. You know, what sort of questions are you answering? And how much detail do you really need? What is the best way of viewing it? Also consider who the audience is, not everybody will want to see all the detail – some people want just want to see a summary highlights or exceptions such as over or under performers. And how often do you need the report? Does the audience really need to receive it every week or will every other week suffice?
Is it a report for month or year end? And how interactive do you report what the report to be? Do you want somebody to be able to drill down the information? And who else is going to be accessing it and what level of information do they really need? And finally, we just encourage you to have a search! There are so many standard reports and views available in the solution. It really is worth searching to see if there’s one available before you create a new one from scratch.
So we hope that you found in this webinar interesting and informative. As mentioned previously, this is the twenty first in a series of webinars. So we’ll be sending out other ones soon. So I’m going to end the webinar now. Once I close the session a survey will appear. Be great if you could respond with some feedback. If you do have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much.