In my last post i discussed at a very high level the various types of Interactive SSRS reports I have developed for customers. I have gone far beyond what Microsoft considers interactive and it has been a get out of jail free card for me numerous times. In this series of posts starting today I will break down each of the 6 different interactive SSRS reporting types I have developed for customers. For each type, I will discuss the reporting types in a little more detail and give you ideas of when these might be game changers for your business needs. Then following each one of those i will post an example of those reports and discuss some of the key development points and concepts I used to build them out.
Reports to Robots
This reporting type is critical to those managers who are sick and tired of issues slipping through the cracks and causing those headaches during month-end close. We are in an age where computers can and should do some of the heavy lifting, allowing us to do relationship building or business analysis.
Every accounting manager I have worked with has a list of things that they can clearly define in their ERP system that should and should not happen. I am talking about things like somebody entering an incorrect account on an expense line, or creating an inter company transaction where there should be no relationship, or forgetting to post an accrual entry that is expected every month. When we sit down and look at these scenarios they can almost always be turned into an objective rule, and if we can set a rule to it – the robotic machine minds can check those rules and notify you almost instantly that something is off track.
The Key to Automation
There is one primary can ask yourself to see if this type of automated business logic checking will help you out. That question is;
Your first thought might be no way, not possible! If we dig deeper though we can often find a pattern and rule set that can continue to help you out. I often start with a white boarding session to really map out what is supposed to happen when. Then it grows and grows with multiple IF statements and conditional pathways. Ultimately though we can almost always find a way to take what we want to happen in our accounting system and have it in a chart like the one on the below.
Once we can get the rules down on paper and know how all your data should ideally relate to one another, we can have our handy computer friends automatically validate that it is happening as it should. In some cases we can even have the logic automatically correct errors. Machines deal very efficiently with the objective and concrete. We can leverage that to make our work lives so much better, no more late nights in the monthly grueling month end close that always has something just a little bit different going wrong.
What about Subjective decisions?
So it does come up where sometimes we humans need to make a judgement call on what should be happening in what is otherwise an objective process. If that is part of the business process you would like to have more control on, all hope is not lost. This is where computers and humans in these automated reports learn to play well together to get the easiest solution we can. For those subjective decisions we can plug stopping points into the process flow if any subjective things come up. We turn that subjective decision into an objective thing the computer can follow, often temporarily stopping the process until the human side can step in, analyze what is going on, and send the computer on its way to finish the process out.
Detailed Example – Interfund Relationship Validation
Following up this post will be a specific example I used on a recent implementation of this type of business logic check. I built a report to enhance the Interfund Management module in Dynamics GP. My customer was okay with the module not specifically stopping illogical relationships between funds, only if they could be notified right away if something crossed from fund to fund where it should not cross. If it was not for this type of custom reporting, we would have been off to purchase an ISV solution that would have cost them roughly $2,500 a year plus additional implementation cost. Instead we built the solution you will see next week and kept them under there budget and completely happy.
Any questions, comments, or ideas? Always feel free to reach out via email.