Hackernoon logo8 Tools To Improve Business Reporting by@randell

8 Tools To Improve Business Reporting

Randell Hacker Noon profile picture

@randellRandell

A freelancer

Reporting tools organize scattered data and present them in the form of tables, charts, and dashboards. Their role is essential because it transforms abstract data into intuitive information, shows past and current status, and makes finding trends and patterns among big data much quicker. In this way, it is easier for companies and departments to track business progress and adjust strategies timely.

Before the advent of professional reporting tools, Excel was the main tool used to build reports. But people who often deal with reports know that it is very troublesome to use Excel as a reporting software. It is easy to make errors and is time-consuming.

Modern reporting tools more and more to meet the actual reporting needs of enterprises, from data collection, processing; to report making, presentation and sharing. Meanwhile, many reporting tools are designed for different business units, such as finance, sales, marketing, etc.

In this article, I’ve reviewed some of the most popular reporting tools on the market today and picked out the ones that perform best in specific features. Welcome to take advantage of it!

What Do the Best Reporting Systems Have in Common?

The best reporting tools on the market have a few things in common. Before we start, here’s a list of the top 4 critical functional aspects of reporting software to guide you in your decision.

1. Convenient data combination

The best tools usually support broad data sources. But that's not enough for enterprises. The reporting value also relies on getting scattered data currently housed in various systems into one report to break data silos and give users a comprehensive view of business performance.

Best reporting tools on the market offer an easy way to combine data via a few clicks, handling multiple sets of data in a single report.

2. Ease of use

Whether the IT department or the business users, they all want a reporting tool to help them get rid of the tedious work of making reports manually with Excel. In this way, they can spend more time analyzing and mining the meaning behind the data.

The best reporting software offers an intuitive visual design environment for users to create custom reports via drag&drop. The learning cost is low.

3. Flexible to integrate and customize

A good reporting tool should be flexible enough for developers to integrate the reporting platform with other systems. So users can check the reports directly in the CRM or ERP system. It removes the hassle and improves the user experience significantly.

It also offers web scripts or API interfaces for deep development and rich reporting systems features.

4. Multiple reports delivery ways

Sharing reports is often the last but most crucial step in an organization. It presents to your team, leaders, or clients the past performance results and the data analysis you have done to drive the next step or strategic change.

A good reporting tool provides various ways to export and print reports, also supports the automated push of reports by email, SMS, or communication software.

List of Best Reporting Tools and Software

Based on the best reporting tools criteria, I selected eight top reporting softwares, ranging from free and open-source to commercial, specialized in different areas.

  1. Google Analytics - Best free reporting tool
  2. FineReport - Best reporting tool for enterprise-scale solutions
  3. Jasper Reports - Best open-source reporting tool
  4. Tableau - Best reporting software for data visualization
  5. ThoughtSpot - Best reporting tool for analytics
  6. Sage Intacct - Best reporting software for financial
  7. AgencyAnalytics - Best reporting platform for marketing
  8. Celoxis - Best tool for project performance reporting

An In-depth Review of These Dashboard Reporting Tools

1. Google Analytics - Best free reporting tool

If you work in marketing, Google Analytics is no stranger to you.

It allows marketers to monitor users’ behavior on their website, social media, and other campaigns through real-time online reports.

Google Analytics offers a free but robust entry-level version where you can track your digital marketing performance such as traffics, acquisitions, referrals, bounce rate.

You can also set customization goals such as lead form submissions, email list sign-ups, purchase completions on the report. The data is real-time so that you can adjust your campaign strategy timely.

You don’t need to worry about the deployment and operation if you have no background because the reporting platform is intuitive and user-friendly enough. It is also convenient to export the reports into Excel and PDF. Or set scheduled reports to share with your team via email.

Finally, the Analytics Intelligence feature provides you more comprehensive data analysis of your website performance. It would alert you if your web page took significantly longer to load.

Top features: the free version is powerful, supports customization goals, intuitive interface, analytics intelligence version

Price: the basic version is free

2. FineReport - Best reporting tool for enterprise-scale solutions

FineReport is an enterprise-scale reporting tool that provides an advanced solution for various, frequent, and complex business reporting needs.

The design of FineReport covers different roles’ needs in the reporting.

For IT departments, you can’t miss FineReport’s simple deployment and integration.

FineReport is written in Java, which ensures the flexibility and scalability of enterprise software. It is flexible to integrate the system with third parties such as CRM, OA, ERP, etc., and embed reports seamlessly into any application software.

FineReport’s rich APIs also simplifies the customization process of reporting systems. Besides, the operation and maintenance cost is low.

For report developers, FineReport’s interactive Excel-like interface provides the best platform for data extraction, integration, visualization, query, and analysis, without the need for code lines.

The data entry feature is outstanding. Users can write the real-time data back to the databases via the online reports, with functions such as data validation and temporary storage. This streamlines the data collection process in reporting.

For managers, it is easy to get business insights from cool reports and dashboards on the all-in-one management platform.

On top of that, managers can view reports no matter on the mobile devices during the trips or on TV screens in the meeting.

Top features: simple deployment, flexible enough to integrate, customize and extend, data entry, scheduled report, TV and large screen display, 3D charts with cool animations, multiple formats exportation.

Price: free for personal use, quote-based for enterprise use

3. Jasper Reports - Best open-source reporting tool

JasperReports is a Java-based engine that is the Jasper suite’s core.

The open-source community edition includes broad components for reporting.

The JasperReports Library provides Java classes and APIs that allow users to generate reports and visualizations based on designs. It is available standalone and also comes embedded inside JasperReports Server or JasperReports Studio.

The JasperReports Server is a standalone and embeddable reporting server that embeds the JasperReports engine, enabling users to operate on the user-friendly, web-based interface.

Besides, JasperReports offer data integration, ETL, and OLAP components for users to explore the data.

All the open-source reporting tools offer essential elements such as lines, areas, pies, radar, ring, etc. However, Jasper Reports provides the richest visual elements collection among them. It adds maps, sparklines, pyramids, and Gantt diagrams in the library.

Besides, Jasper Reports has a well-maintained repository, with a stable medium activity by its editor TIBCO Software.

Top features: offer data integration, ETL, and OLAP components; provides the richest visual elements among all the open-source reporting tools

Price: starting from $233.00/year, charged by per feature

4. Tableau - Best reporting software for data visualization

Tableau is considered one of the reporting tools with the most appealing visualization effects that make your data visible in a unique, and compelling presentation. Its visualizing capabilities are unparalleled compared to competitors. The visualization dashboards in the Tableau gallery are always impressive.

Besides, its robust and reliable performance is on the top list of Tableau’s benefits. It provides a highly interactive interface for users to easily understand data and discover in-depth insights. And the operation is fast enough, even process the big data stored in various places.

When you launch Tableau, the data connectors are readily available, which allows you to connect to any database.

Then, the pulled raw data can be arranged into catchy diagrams via drag and drop in Tableau Desktop.

The reports and dashboards you created can be shared in the Tableau server, where licensed users can access and use them. Apart from sharing, this enterprise platform also supports collaboration, distribution, governance, security model, and automation.

Tableau Server also leverages the power of natural language and AI. You can ask a question with natural language and get answers in the form of a viz. And AI explained data points based on advanced statistical models help you make AI-driven decisions.

Besides, Tableau has a thriving community where you can beef up your knowledge in data reporting, visualization, and business intelligence.

Top features: unparalleled visualizing capabilities, robust and reliable performance, highly interactive interface, natural language and AI tech, online community

Price: Tableau’s pricing is available in three subscription options.

5. ThoughtSpot - Best reporting tool for analytics

ThoughtSpot is a BI reporting platform with solid search and AI-driven analytics capabilities. It brings a Google-like search bar for business users to quickly ask questions through natural language queries, regardless of the dataset’s size.

It leverages the AI insights engine SpotIQ, which can continually scan billions of data to find the answers, even automatically discover the insights that you might not have thought to ask.

ThoughtSpot also provides a user-friendly platform for users to create reports, build dashboards and analyze data without relying on IT.

It is easy for non-technical business users to interact with ThoughtSpot and gain insights through anomaly detection, trend analysis, comparative analysis, and more.

Besides the mainstream databases, ThoughSpot Cloud also supports popular cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift and Snowflake, allowing you to connect with and combines data sources on-premise or in the cloud.

Top features: Google-like search bar, natural language queries, AI-driven, analyze billions of rows at sub-second speed, cloud data warehouses support

Price: available upon request

6. Sage Intacct - Best reporting software for financial

With business growing, companies have unique and sometimes highly complex accounting and financial management challenges.

Accordingly, the demand for flexible, in-depth financial reporting is increasing.

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based financial reporting tool that can transform the way your financial reporting and business works.

It provides an easy-to-use solution for building customizable reports that incorporate financial and non-financial data, offering real-time filters and the ability to quickly slice and dice the details.

Sage Intacct also supports multiple accounting methods such as accrual, cash reporting, tax basis, etc. Besides, via Sage Intacct, you can automate the business process such as accounts payable, month-end close, and expense management.

Sage Intacct’s technology leverages open APIs, so it’s easy to connect your financial solution with other cloud applications.

But you don’t need to worry about your data security. Sage Intacct offers world-class disaster recovery and security backups, giving you a secure environment to protect your financial data at a low cost.

Top features: offering real-time filters, multiple accounting methods, automated accounts payable, month-end close, world-class disaster recovery, and security backups

Price: available upon request

7. AgencyAnalytics - Best reporting platform for marketing

Agency Analytics is a marketing campaign-focused reporting platform where you can put all of your marketing channels in one place to get the whole picture of your campaign process.

It is highly suitable for marketing agencies to track marketing campaigns and report results to their clients.

Agency Analytics supports 50+ data source connectors, including the most commonly used marketing tool such as Google Analytics, Search Console, Adwords, Facebook Ads, social media.

Besides, AgencAnalytcis offers the basic features of SEO tools such as track the keywords ranking, monitor the backlinks, and audit the website. That means, if you don’t have high requirements for SEO monitoring, extra SEO tools are not necessary.

After the reports are generated, you can choose to export reports into beautiful PDF or send automated emails to your clients.

Last but not least, Agency Analytics supports 23 languages. It is user-friendly for your global customer to operate the system in their local language.

Top features: 50+ data source connectors, offers the basic features of SEO tools, automated reports, broad language support.

Price: $49-$399/monthly, 14 days free trial

8. Celoxis - Best tool for project performance reporting

Using reporting in the project can help you stay on top of your projects and manage your stakeholder’s expectations. You can also keep your team members on the same page, let them know your project plan and status.

Celoxis is a project management software but stands out for its reporting with its advanced reporting engine.

Besides the basic features of project management software such as project planning, project tracking, resource management, team collaboration, Celoxis provides real-time financial management features that improve your project’s bottom line.

In terms of reporting, Celoxis has the best analytics engine in the market today, where you can implement cross-project reporting, drill-down charts, and automated reports.

It offers both in the cloud and on-premise versions.

Top features: simple and straightforward interface, SaaS plan, comprehensive project management features, real-time financial management, advanced reporting engine

Price: $25/user a month for the SaaS plan, or $450/user for one-time payment on-premise.

Other Reporting Apps Options

1.Crystal Reports - a traditional reporting system for SQL, support 28 languages

2. Cognos Analytics - a web-based reporting generator, provide automatic access to SAP BW queries

3. PowerBI - an online reporting tool from Microsoft that works well with Excel

4. Sisense - a hybrid-cloud bi reporting platform, the in-chip architecture accelerates the time it takes in data ingestion.

5. Yellowfin - an innovative BI reporting platform that combines visualization, machine learning, and collaboration.

6. Board - a self-service reporting tool with an “All-in-one” design that includes performance management

7. Cumul.io - a SaaS platform for building reports and dashboards

8. Izenda - an embedded analytics reporting system, support ad-hoc reporting

9. InsightSoftware - provides finance-owned solutions that include a reporting tool

10. Birt - an open-source reporting and business intelligence tool, offer a Java environment

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