Aside from offering innovative ways to present data in a qualitative, rather than quantitative format, business reporting system(s) have greatly improved the way future-ended decisions are made.
And that’s not all.
The purpose or the benefit of business reporting tools doesn’t end up with decision making; there are tons of other things that these programs and the specific business reporting system are capable of delivering.
Think of cost-cutting, resource management and many other aspects of performance/ process efficiency that are somewhat difficult in the absence of drill-down reports to point out the weak areas of a company’s workflow.
Meanwhile, just to reiterate the importance of any business reporting system, you should know that there are around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that are created every single day. Without the existence of a system that helps to handle big data and break it down into visually interpretable formats, we’d be at a loss.
This post highlights different aspects of a business reporting system and focuses on some of the best reporting tools to help you understand their overall importance.
Let’s get started.
What Is Business Reporting?
Business reporting refers to the process of gathering, analyzing, and presenting data and information related to the performance and operations of a business or organization.
It involves collecting relevant data from various sources, such as financial records, sales figures, market research, and operational metrics, and transforming it into meaningful insights and reports.
The primary purpose of business reporting is to provide stakeholders, including management, executives, investors, and other decision-makers, with accurate and timely information to support informed decision-making.
Business reports often highlight key performance indicators (KPIs), trends, patterns, and other critical data points that allow stakeholders to assess the organization’s financial health, operational efficiency, market position, and overall performance.
Reporting, on its own, can take various forms, including financial reports, operational reports, sales reports, performance dashboards, and executive summaries. These reports can be presented in different formats, such as written documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or interactive visualizations.
Effective business reporting involves several key steps:
- Data Collection: Gathering relevant data from various sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, CRM systems, and other business applications.
- Data Analysis: Analyzing and processing the collected data to identify trends, patterns, and meaningful insights.
- Report Design: Determining the structure, format, and content of the report based on the specific needs and requirements of the target audience.
- Report Creation: Creating the report by organizing and presenting the analyzed data clearly and understandably.
- Report Distribution: Sharing the report with the intended recipients, either through email, presentations, online portals, or other communication channels.
In this context, the use of a robust business reporting system plays a crucial role in monitoring performance, identifying areas of improvement, and making informed decisions to drive the success of an organization.
These programs provide a snapshot of the organization’s current state, identify areas of concern or opportunities, and support strategic planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes.
Moreover, they also enable stakeholders to track progress towards goals, evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives, and ensure transparency and accountability within the organization.
In summary, you could say that reporting in the business industry is the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data and information to support informed decision-making and provide insights into the performance and operations of an organization.
10 Best Business Reporting Tools To Use In 2023
Having elaborated on the overall importance of a business reporting system and how it’s used in different real-life scenarios, let’s look at some of the best business reporting tools.
1. Dotnet Report:
This highly versatile platform is specifically designed for web applications, offering user-friendly reports, interactive dashboards, and visually appealing visualizations.
With Dotnet Report, you can enhance your application’s data-driven capabilities without the need for a new or proprietary data warehouse.
Utilize its automated query-building engine to leverage existing databases and generate insightful reports.
As far as pricing is concerned, Dotnet Report has a flexible pricing plan. You can contact them for a custom plan to meet enterprise-level requirements or go with monthly preset brackets starting at $85/ month with Premium Plan.
2. Insightful Reporting with SAP Crystal Report:
SAP Crystal Report is a powerful business intelligence tool that empowers businesses to create comprehensive reports from various data sources, including Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, XML, and Microsoft Excel.
Ideal for small and medium-sized businesses, SAP Crystal Report enables you to generate advanced-level reports and make data-driven decisions with confidence.
With features like content distribution in PDF, spreadsheets, and HTML, as well as multilingual support and robust data security, SAP Crystal Report ensures reliable and secure reporting. Pricing starts at $495 per license.
3. Streamline Financial Processes with Planful:
Planful is a cloud-based performance management tool designed to automate financial processes for individuals and teams.
Its Reporting Cloud feature enables the generation of automated reports, including US GAAP and IFRS-compliant balance sheets.
Planful offers a range of features, including dashboards, workflow management, and financial reporting, catering to diverse industries such as healthcare, education, advertising, and distribution. Pricing is available upon request.
4. Efficient Project Reporting with ProWorkflow:
ProWorkflow is a reporting tool tailored for project management needs.
It simplifies reporting by providing standard reports on projects, tasks, financial data, time tracking, and workload performance.
Additionally, users can create custom reports using the “Custom Reports” option. ProWorkflow integrates seamlessly with various tools and software, including Xero, Kash Flow, Box Storage, Dropbox, FreshBooks, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive.
Pricing starts from $10/user per month, with a maximum of 10 active projects.
5. Hive: Beyond Reporting, Complete Project Management:
Hive offers project management and task coordination features alongside reporting capabilities. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, Hive’s dashboards provide insights into team productivity levels.
It facilitates resource allocation, real-time data management, time tracking, project planning, and client billing. Hive integrates with popular tools like Google Drive, Zoom, Salesforce, OneDrive, and more via Zapier.
Pricing starts at $12/user per month.
6. Workday Adaptive Planning:
Workday Adaptive Planning is a cloud-based corporate performance management software designed for budget forecasting and reporting tasks.
With its user-friendly interface reminiscent of Microsoft Excel, Workday Adaptive Planning allows for direct integration into Microsoft Office, streamlining the user experience. Pricing is available upon request.
7. DBxtra: Cloud-Based Reporting for Efficiency:
DBxtra is a cloud-based reporting tool that automates reporting processes, saving valuable time. Its report designer feature enables the customization of input parameters, data filters, and reporting formats.
Users can upload company reports to a web database accessible to customers. DBxtra connects to local and popular cloud databases, offering versatile integration options.
Pricing starts from $980.
8. ClicData: Simplified Cloud-Based Business Intelligence:
ClicData is an easy-to-use cloud-based BI tool that streamlines data analysis and visualization.
Its intuitive dashboard allows users to generate visually appealing graphics using a simple drag-and-drop interface.
ClicData’s data warehouse collects and processes data, enabling the creation of reports that can be shared through various channels, including email, PDF attachments, web sharing, and social media.
Integration with iOS and Android devices ensures accessibility anywhere. Pricing ranges from $25 to $439 per month, depending on the license type.
9. Tableau: Empowering Data Analysis and Visualization:
Tableau is a renowned tool for data analysis and visualization. Its user-friendly dashboard enables the creation of easily understandable graphics, even for non-technical users.
With a range of built-in functions and sharing capabilities, Tableau simplifies data interpretation and collaboration. Pricing ranges from $35 to $70 per user per month.
10. TapClicks: Automatic Reporting and Dashboard Generation:
TapClicks offers automated reporting and dashboard generation. Import data from various sources using its ImportWizard feature, assisting non-technical users through an onboarding wizard.
With TapClicks, you can create white-labelled reports customized to match your brand identity.
Pricing is available upon request.
How to Pick a Business Reporting Tool for Report Creation?
Choosing the right business reporting tool for report creation requires careful consideration of various factors. Here are some key steps to help you pick the best tool for your needs:
1. Identify Your Reporting Requirements: Start by understanding your specific reporting needs. Consider the types of reports you want to create, the data sources you’ll be working with, the level of customization required, and any specific features or functionalities you prioritize.
2. Evaluate User-Friendliness: Look for a reporting tool that offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Consider the ease of creating reports, designing dashboards, and generating visualizations. A tool with a drag-and-drop interface and pre-built templates can significantly simplify the reporting process.
3. Data Integration and Compatibility: Ensure that the reporting tool can seamlessly connect to your data sources, including databases, spreadsheets, cloud storage, and other relevant systems. Verify if the tool supports the file formats and databases you use, such as Excel, CSV, SQL Server, Oracle, etc.
4. Reporting and Visualization Capabilities: Assess the tool’s reporting capabilities and the types of visualizations it offers. Look for features like interactive charts, graphs, pivot tables, and maps that can present data in a meaningful and visually appealing manner. Consider if the tool provides real-time data updates and supports drill-down functionality.
5. Customization and Flexibility: Determine whether the reporting tool allows you to customize reports according to your specific requirements. Look for options to add custom formulas, calculations, filters, and parameters. Assess if the tool offers flexible formatting options to match your organization’s branding and style guidelines.
6. Collaboration and Sharing Features: Consider how easily you can collaborate with team members and share reports with stakeholders. Look for features like report sharing, permissions management, and the ability to schedule and automate report distribution. Integration with collaboration tools or email platforms can enhance collaboration capabilities.
7. Scalability and Performance: Evaluate the tool’s scalability to accommodate your growing reporting needs. Consider the performance of the tool when working with large datasets and complex reports. Look for features like data caching, query optimization, and server performance to ensure smooth and efficient report generation.
8. Support and Training: Assess the level of customer support and training provided by the reporting tool vendor. Consider the availability of documentation, tutorials, and user communities to help you maximize the tool’s potential. Look for vendors that offer responsive customer support to address any issues or queries.
9. Cost and Licensing: Determine your budget and evaluate the pricing models offered by the reporting tool vendors. Consider factors like upfront costs, subscription fees, additional licensing for users, and any ongoing maintenance or support fees. Ensure that the tool’s pricing aligns with the value it provides to your organization.
10. Trial and Evaluation: Whenever possible, take advantage of free trials or demos offered by reporting tool vendors. Test the tool’s functionalities and features with your own data to see if it meets your expectations and provides a good fit for your reporting requirements.
By following these steps and considering your specific business needs, you can make an informed decision when choosing a business reporting tool for report creation.