Can a Microsoft Dynamics 365 User Save Money by Building Their Own Reports?

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Companies evaluating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales will often ask us, “Can Microsoft Dynamics 365 users build their own reports?”

The answer comes down to a couple of factors:

  • What kind of reports do you need?
  • What kind of relevant experience does your team have?

By building their own reports, a business could potentially save thousands of dollars. However, there is a lot to consider.

First things first: What kind of reports do I need?

This is often the main source of confusion. What one person considers a report may just be a list for another. When asking your CRM partner for a report, there may some misunderstanding as to what constitutes a report.

Here are three common substitutions to consider instead of a full-blown report:

  1. CRM Views: Views in Dynamics 365 Sales are essentially a filtered list based on certain criteria put in place by the user. For many clients, this is enough on its own. Moreover, once a user learns how to create their own CRM views, it helps them become autonomous. This helps speed up the analysis process for this user or department.
  2. Dashboards: Dashboards display critical data that you need to review on a regular basis from your CRM (customer relationship management) tool. Potentially, much of the data you would need in a report can be viewed from a dashboard, which you can create yourself within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales. Key statistics can be displayed as graphics or lists depending on user preferences and requirements. Like Views, this is something that users can create themselves with a quick training, some understanding of the fields within the forms, and a vision of what they would like to review.
  3. Excel templates: As a final option we would suggest looking into Excel templates in the CRM. This allows you to build your spreadsheets as you would like them to be presented and refresh the data as you need it. The most common application for this tool is to share information with your clients. What differentiates this from a report is the limitations in filtering and intelligence (e.g.: display this information if “x” exists). For some applications it makes more sense to create a report rather than an Excel template.

By using these tools to their full potential, you can probably limit the number of reports you need and save the extra costs associated with building them. The first step is then to ask yourself if you really need the information to be consumed as a report or if one of these tools can meet your needs.

In some cases, reports are necessary as there are limitations to what you can do in a view. If this is the case for you, you likely want to know if you can build these reports yourself and what the cost will be.

Next step: Can my team create their own reports in-house?

The short answer is it depends. Creating your own reports depends on the relative competency levels available internally. Ask yourself if anyone on your team has the SQL/Fetch XML experience required to build reports.

For those who want to create their own reports but don’t have the experience, it might be worth considering Microsoft Power BI instead. This business intelligence solution is more dynamic and simpler to use once the data set is created and in place.

You could improve your skills by taking classes and consulting a partner. But realistically, the cost of these could come out to about the same as having your reports developed by a Microsoft Dynamics partner.

Bottom line: Can I build my own reports or not?

The answer is not the same for everyone. Building your own reports may sound appealing, but unless you have the competencies required internally, you may have to look at alternatives, like Power BI, CRM views or dashboards, and Excel templates. It basically boils down to what kind of report you need and how much experience your team has.

Our suggestion would be to have an honest and open discussion with your Microsoft Dynamics partner to ask them what building a specific report entails. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to see if there is a better way of doing things. This way the partner will get a clearer idea of what you need, and the effort required to produce it.

Here at JOVACO Solutions, we have decades of experience working with organizations to help them get the information they need. Our consultants are available to figure out the best way for you to take advantage of the wealth of data stored in your system. Contact us today to tell us more about your challenges and objectives.

By JOVACO Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics 365 specialist in Quebec

About JOVACO Solutions

JOVACO Solutions is a leading ERP and CRM solution provider operating in Quebec for over 35 years. As a specialist of Microsoft Dynamics business management solutions, we offer a wide range of products and services to meet all the needs of professional services firms and project-based organizations. We also offer specialized project management tools and timesheet add-ons fully integrated to Microsoft Dynamics solutions. Visit our website or contact us for more information.