Oh the fun customers you run into, one comes to mind a from a couple years back who had a great personality. In one of our early meetings he gave me one of those nicknames that stuck with that customer from that point forward on the project. This infamous nickname I couldn’t live down, The Flash! You may think that my typing skills are quick, my solution finding capability happens fast, or maybe because I like running. If you guessed any of those you would be wrong, it was actually because apparently I look just like this man (boy??) who plays Barry Allen in the movies!
The reason this came flooding back to my memory is because I was thinking of ways to describe this type of interactive SSRS report I am going to review today. The best way to explain it is that having these in place can take some of those slow, repetitive, tedious processes (ones I despise doing) and make the computer do them for you instead. It is like hiring Barry Allen as your data entry staff member, but not having to pay his salary because this Barry Allen, is really just some ones and zeros programmed into your SSRS report!
Why have reports help eliminate repetitive tasks??
I know from my career i have a very strong negative reaction to doing repetitive tasks, I have gone to great lengths to keep my work engaging and thought provoking as much as possible. Many people don’t feel as strongly about automating these types of tasks that I do, but I can assure you these things are a drag on the morale of employees who need to process them day in and day out. This is not to say these employees are not needed, but they certainly can provide more value than the repetitive tasks I aim to replace in these reports.
One of the most influential authors of my career and life has been the late Stephen Covey. In his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, he dives into the transition we all face into the knowledge worker age. All of us are in an entirely new age of work where computers can do so much more than they used to. Embracing the transition to allow your employees the freedom to analyze, audit, and work with computer programming is essential to a business’s survival. This type of reporting in SSRS is a small movement in that direction.
The Basic Examples
In my last post, I highlighted a few examples that I will briefly explain here. They are some of the common things I have seen in multiple GP environments where putting these in place can just keep the system fresh and ready for use at any time. There are so many more use cases possible though, I know the best of them will come out of the struggles your team deals with week in, week out. If you want to discuss the feasibility of automating anything you are struggling with, shoot me an email and i’d be happy to discuss it with you.
Report to Remove Empty Batches
This one is about as straight forward as they come, end users will sometimes shift transactions around, add batches then not use them, or just leave batches out there for not reason at all. It sounds small but its just enough when you’re looking at them every day to have that little bit more sanity knowing the batch you select, will have transactions in it.
Here are some common variations/additions I see with this report on top of just removing them because they are empty. Like I mentioned in the last post on turning reports into robotic assistants, if you can define a “rule” to say which batches should be removed, the report can remove them.
- Only delete batches with certain character strings in them
- Only remove if created more than 10 minutes ago
- Automatic subscription to run this report every hour to keep them clean throughout the day
- Validate that the batch master (where they are deleted from) actually shows the correct number of transactions based on the batches in the Work tables (GP gets confused sometimes, which a reconcile of batches will fix, this does the same thing to be safe in what we remove).
Report to Clear Dormant GP User Activity
I think every company running GP runs into the issue of dormant users in the system from time to time. Yes, it pretty quick routine to go in and remove these users, but it is always an admins time and there are more important things the admin can be doing. Setting up an SSRS report or SQL job to routinely clean up these dormant GP users frees up that little bit of extra time in your GP administrator;s day. This report is also one of the free offerings I built for the GP community to enjoy; you can find the free download here.
Restore <Test> GP Company Database
As a consultant I LOVE test companies. One thing I have picked up over the years is the importance of methodology in software implementations. From the smallest deployment or fix to the biggest of implementations, the same methodology takes place to ensure success. The most important aspect of that is having a safe place to test the solution. Having a readily accessible and recent test company is a very handy thing to have.
The process for restoring a test company with a production copy is a sequence of SQL processes that can be easily combined to execute one after the other at the click of a button. SSRS can easily be the place where you put that button and give certain end users the option to get the latest test data available.
The KILLER Example
These examples are all pretty basic and are not complete game changers, just nice things to have. This one just came up recently for me and is a completely different story; it has huge possibilities for eliminating those pesky key strokes for your GP users. In this example I leverage the incredible power of Macros in GP, combined with the power of SSRS to have an end user review, filter, and enter requirements for what data entry tasks should happen. This combination is so exciting because there are so many use cases that can be so helpful.
Auto-Apply Credit Memos Macro Report
The customer need that drove this report was that they needed to take thousands of credit memos that were imported via SmartConnect, and apply them automatically to the oldest outstanding invoices. This process the first time they attempted it took 3 straight days of applying transactions. That is a complete nightmare and needed a better way.
In the report I created, and will show in my next post, I used SSRS to allow them to view and filter outstanding credits by vendor class, vendor, and date range. The report shows them what the oldest transactions are and highlights how much will be applied through the auto-apply button in GP. Then, at the click of a button, the customer can create a GP macro they can then run to turn that 3-day process into no more than an hour. The report mimics the mail-merge macro creation process used very often, however it does it all through SQL and with the benefit of dynamically working with and checking against the GP data for accuracy.
Next week I’ll record another live video of this Macro report, can’t wait to show and see the possibilities that come up with this type of interactive report.