As a Microsoft Dynamics NAV reseller, our team deals almost daily with the reporting needs of our clients, and the tool we recommend to help them is one of a family of products collectively known as Jet Reports.
So today we thought it might be a good idea to define for our NAV readers and users just what this Jet Reports family is all about. Here’s a quick-shot, high-level view of what, in reality, are three different levels of reporting and BI (Business Intelligence) solutions.
At its core, the family of Jet products (Jet is headquartered in Portland, OR) are powerful tools for integrating Microsoft Excel with Microsoft Dynamics. In short, if you run NAV and you need reporting, then you need Jet. If you know Excel, then you’ll love Jet!
Jet users can be “designers” (they have the rights and ability to create reports) or “viewers” (those who can view or review, but not create, reports.) Jet will even create PDF or XLS reports that you can push downstream to other users in your organization who are not even Dynamics NAV users!
At the basic level, there’s Jet Express. It’s free, so the price is certainly right. With Jet Express [quoting from the folks at Jet] “you can select the fields you want from any of the tables or views in your database and build reports quickly using a simple interface inside Excel. Take advantage of Excel’s tremendous capabilities to add charts, Pivot Tables, and custom formatting to build stunning reports.” You can download dozens of pre-built Excel reports and in at least some cases, refresh your data with the click of a button.
Jet Express is your point of entry for Jet/Excel reporting. Most companies will quickly tire of some its limitations (like limited report formats, lack of sub-groupings and very little ability to edit or “tweak” a table report and then re-save it). Still, what do you want?… it’s free. Those needing to take the next step up will likely move up to the next level of Jet…
Jet Essentials sells for about five grand and opens up Jet to greater reporting capabilities. It permits more advanced reporting and group collaboration. You can connect to all your business systems from inside Excel. You can automatically pull in data to create the reports you need. You can refresh report data – in real time — at the click of a button. You can also schedule reports for automatic distribution and use “proactive alerts” to push critical information out to others. Jet Essentials also features improved drill-downs to underlying documents. In short, it provides the reporting backbone, through Excel, for your entire organization, and greatly expands the convenience and capabilities of reporting with Jet.
Finally, at the top end of the Jet food chain, and priced around ten grand, is the full-blown BI (Business Intelligence) and reporting tool called Jet Enterprise. It allows you to quickly analyze issues from different perspectives within your business to discover underlying trends. Once again, you’re using the familiar tool of Microsoft Excel. It features a drag-and-drop data manager for adding tables and fields to the cubes to access the data warehouse. You can learn to manipulate data to see the information you want. You can implement Jet Enterprise and begin to gain insights into your business pretty quickly. And it’s a business collaboration tool – without the need for highly skilled technical resources.
We’ve found that most businesses will happily start with Jet Express. When they’re tired of bumping into its limitations, they’ll make the investment of about $5K to step up to Jet Essentials – and often that’s where most will stay. True data-mavens and larger organizations (with the supporting budgets) may feel compelled to move up to Jet Enterprise, but for most we’ve found that the mid-level Jet Essentials hits the ‘sweet spot.’