How to Go Beyond Business Central Standard Reports

November 23, 2023
9 min read
General

While Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central‘s standard reports offer a quick glance into business operations, they may only be scratching the surface of your data’s potential.

These out-of-the-box reports offer a convenient starting point, but there’s a world beyond them that holds the key to transforming how you analyze information and drive informed decisions.  

In this blog post, we will embark on a journey beyond Business Central standard reports, uncovering their intricacies, and limitations, and, most importantly, demonstrate how to propel your business intelligence to new heights.  

Whether you’re aiming to streamline operations, boost efficiency, improve the bottom line, or outpace the competition, this exploration into Power BI, Cosmos, Jet Reports, and Solver will be your guide to maximizing the reporting potential within Business Central.

What Are Business Central Standard Reports?

Business Central standard reports are the report templates that come by default with a subscription to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. If you currently have a license to Business Central, then you are already using them.  

With a whopping 521 reports to choose from, Business Central standard reports include an assortment of reporting functions for finance, sales, service, projects, purchasing, manufacturing, fixed assets, assembly management, and invoicing and warehousing. They function as a good starting point for embedded reporting.

Although the built-in reporting functionality and capabilities might appear extensive, Business Central’s native reporting is intricately complex. Not only does it present notable restrictions in terms of report formatting and customization, but utilizing many of Microsoft’s tools within it demands varying levels of knowledge and technical expertise for effective use.

How to Use Business Central Standard Reports

After navigating the user interface in Business Central to access and analyze predefined standard reports, you then select one to use. Next, you set parameters (such as date ranges, document numbers, or other criteria), and then you can run the report, export it, and share it with colleagues.  

Sounds basic, right? That’s because it is.  

Standard reports in Business Central are meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution used by any company with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 software subscription, and that’s precisely part of the problem.

8 Limitations of Business Central Standard Reports

Generic reporting products often come with their own set of challenges, especially when trying to meet the unique data needs of your business. What works for some causes headaches for others. Where Business Central is a cloud ERP solution used by businesses and departments of all sizes, relying on out-of-the-box standard reports in Business Central presents extensive limitations, including:

  1. Limited Report Formatting: While Business Central allows some level of customization for standard reports, the extent of formatting options is limited. Users do not have the flexibility to modify certain aspects of the report layouts or add entirely new data fields.

  2. Industry-Specific Requirements: Some industries have specific reporting requirements that are not fully addressed by standard reports. In such cases, businesses might need to invest in custom report development or third-party solutions.

  3. Complex Financial Reporting: Businesses with complex financial structures or reporting requirements often find that standard financial reports do not fully meet their needs. In such cases, additional tools or custom solutions might be necessary.

  4. Limited Drill-Down Functionality: Some standard reports may not offer extensive drill-down capabilities, limiting the ability to navigate from summary information to detailed data.

  5. Limited Multiple Entity Management: The reporting functionality within Business Central is limited to handling one company at a time, necessitating intricate data consolidation processes when dealing with multiple entities.

  6. Integration Challenges: Similar to the point above, integration with Business Central extensions, the third-party or custom developed add-ons that extend functionality for industry or business process needs, often poses challenges when trying to consolidate information in Business Central standard reports.

  7. Scalability and Speed Issues: As the volume of data increases, businesses encounter performance issues with standard reports. Large datasets impact the speed at which reports are generated, often leading to reports taking excessive amounts of time to complete.

  8. Technical Expertise: Customizing standard reports in Business Central demands substantial development skills and technical expertise to ensure the inclusion of specific data in the desired format. The lack of self-service reporting options creates bottlenecks in operations and slows the speed of reporting tasks.
Explore Business Central’s Top 7 Reporting Challenges Get the Free Guide

Top Solutions for Customized Business Central Reports

Due to the overwhelming intricacies and limitations of using standard reports in Business Central, third-party reporting solutions exist to enhance its reporting capabilities and reduce its technical complexities. These tools are designed to help create and customize reports, optimize data, manage multiple entities, and analyze performance. This section explores two categories of third-party reporting solutions: those built specifically for Business Central and those modified to integrate with the platform.

Reporting Solutions Retrofitted for Business Central

Jet Reports

Jet Reports is a financial and business reporting tool that has been retrofitted to work with Business Central. That means it was originally designed as an on-premise solution for Dynamics NAV, so it is missing some of the key performance, accessibility, and scalability elements that true cloud technology provides. As a popular reporting product in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, Jet Reports allows users to create, modify, and automate reports directly inside Excel.

Solver

Solver is a versatile reporting and budgeting solution, retrofitted to enhance Business Central’s reporting capabilities. Like Jet Reports, it was originally built as an on-premise reporting solution and not specifically built to fit the Business Central platform, or even its NAV predecessor. Solver offers several different connectors and integration options for Business Central; however, it is most often leveraged for it’s forecasting features versus a default business reporting solution.

Reporting Solutions Built for Business Central

Power BI

Power BI is a robust business analytics tool developed by Microsoft. It is seamlessly integrated with Business Central to provide powerful data visualization capabilities. Power BI enables users to create interactive and customizable reports, dashboards, and visualizations, allowing for a more dynamic and insightful analysis of business data.

Cosmos

Cosmos is the only cloud reporting solution on the market specifically built for Business Central cloud. Powered by Microsoft Azure, Cosmos leverages Business Central’s standard reporting functionality and makes it easier and faster to use – without any technical expertise required. Running 48x faster than other Excel-based reporting solutions for Business Central, Cosmos provides a fully centralized user experience, seamless Power BI integration, and includes over 30 pre-built, fully customizable reports that can be used instantly.

Performance Factors: Why the Cloud Matters in Reporting

Cloud-based reporting solutions offer several key usability and performance benefits that significantly improve the reporting experience for users. For Business Central cloud users specifically, a pure cloud reporting solution delivers increased speed, accessibility, collaboration, and value that matches and enhances the advantages of Microsoft’s modern business management system. Here is a quick overview of some of the key advantages:

Cloud Usability Benefits:

  • Accessibility from Anywhere: Cloud-based reporting solutions provide users with the flexibility to access and run reports from anywhere with an internet connection. This accessibility is particularly beneficial for businesses with remote or distributed teams.

  • Collaboration and Sharing: Cloud reporting facilitates seamless collaboration among team members. Users can easily share reports, dashboards, and insights with colleagues, stakeholders, or clients, fostering a collaborative and transparent work environment.

  • Intuitive User Interfaces: Cloud-based reporting platforms often prioritize user-friendly interfaces. With intuitive design and navigation, users quickly learn how to create, customize, and analyze reports, reducing the learning curve for new users.

  • Automatic Updates and Enhancements: Cloud solutions typically receive regular updates and enhancements without requiring manual intervention from users. This ensures that users always have access to the latest features, security patches, and improvements without the need for extensive maintenance efforts.

Cloud Performance Benefits:

  • Scalability: Cloud-based reporting solutions can easily scale resources up or down based on demand. This scalability ensures the reporting system can handle increased data volumes or user loads, providing optimal performance during peak times.

  • Faster Deployment: Cloud solutions often offer quicker deployment compared to on-premises alternatives. This rapid deployment allows businesses to implement reporting tools faster, enabling users to benefit from advanced analytics and insights sooner.

  • Reduced Infrastructure Complexity: Reporting within the cloud eliminates the need for businesses to manage and maintain complex on-premises infrastructure. This reduced infrastructure complexity translates to lower maintenance costs and fewer IT resources dedicated to managing servers and hardware.

  • Improved Performance Analytics: The speed and efficiency of cloud infrastructure contributes to faster processing of large datasets and more responsive reporting.

  • Global Data Accessibility: For businesses with a global presence, cloud reporting enables users to access and analyze data from multiple geographic locations. This global data accessibility ensures that insights are available to all relevant stakeholders, regardless of their physical

The Fastest Path to Custom Business Central Reporting

When looking for the best third-party solution for better Business Central standard reports, the quickest and most efficient option may be in the clouds, but it is also within reach! 

Cosmos is the first true cloud-based reporting, analytics, and data management system built for Business Central. By providing all the user-friendly tools and instant data access your users need to build, modify, and share reports, Cosmos eliminates the complex data structures and technical complexities you’ve experienced with Business Central standard reports.  

Easily accessible to the entire team, Cosmos reports run faster than other Excel-based tools while offering simultaneous reporting and a centralized user experience. Best of all, it installs in 30 minutes and comes with easily customizable pre-built report templates.  Unlike the more rigid reports in Business Central, you can actually start building and tailoring these valuable financial and operational reports directly from day one. See for yourself by browsing our in-depth library of pre-built report templates built for Business Central below.

Start Using These 30+ Business Central Templates Today! View Report Library