Management Reporter is bundled with PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS) and is actually a re-write of Frx Reporter which has been around for quite some time. It now runs on SQL Server and connects to the PPS Financial Models. The team has also buffed the UI and it has the Outlook pane look and feel. Unfortunately they did not have enough time to give it the new "ribbon" Office 2007 look.
In short it is a tool for writing financial reports which looks like it has been designed by accountants for accountants. It comprises 3 elements, the designer, the viewer and the database that stores the report layouts and data. From within the designer one creates reports using a "building block" method. The rows, columns and reporting trees are defined and then pulled together in a report definition. This methodology allows a tremendous amount of re-usability and flexibility. All terribly easy to use. I had no Frx experience and read the help file which has a mini tutorial look and feel about it and within a few hours had reproduced our Income Statement with some complex calculations for PMO and GP etc etc.
One can publish the reports to MS Reporting Server, export it to Excel or just view them in the MR Viewer. Facilities exist to e-mail the report to users as well.
I have been using it for the past 6 months or so and one does need to be aware of certain issues surrounding the installation and usage thereof.
If you try and install the database remotely you will get an error. You must actually install the product on the server that houses the Management Reporter (MR) database. Only once you have done this can you install the client on your desktop. The documentation is not entirely clear on this.
Another "gotcha" is that you must have the PPS Excel Client (Planning Business Client) installed on your PC in order for MR to work.
If you thought that your PPS account and entity hierarchies were going to be respected you will be disappointed. The pop up selection box for accounts and hierarchies does not distinguish between those accounts that are at the leaf level or those that are parents and thus summary level accounts. If your accounts do not have a distinguishing feature within the account naming you will be lost.
PPS Member Properties
Something else I found a bit lacking was that none of the member properties that one creates for dimensions within PPS are exposed to MR for reporting purposes. This means that if you require them for your financial reporting make sure that they are full dimensions. I got caught on this with my entities. I created a member property called Country but could not use this in MR. I recreated the model and made the Country a full dimension. It is now available in MR for reporting on.
Performance is something that Microsoft are addressing as an issue from my side. MR has been re-written to pull from PPS and it uses MDX to bring back the data from the model cubes. For some reason the performance is not up to scratch. We are hoping for a solution shortly.
The current version only allows report generation one at a time. You cannot select multiple reports and run them simultaneously. You also cannot run them unattended on a schedule. Microsoft are not sure when this type of functionality will be included.
Multiple Reports on the Same Page
It is not possible to create a number of reports and have them co-exist on the same page. This is something that all Management Accountants will curse.
All in all this product looks neat and should just about cover most of the reports required by the Accountants.
I will teaching some Accountants how to use the product over the next few weeks and will report back on that exercise.
- Paul Steynberg