Best Reporting Software

Reporting Software

Explore and invest in the best reporting software to create customized business intelligence reports.  
Your business needs data-driven decision-making competencies, analytics-led discovery and innovation, and reporting-based real-time planning capacities to stay ahead of the competition. However, without an accurate and reliable reporting system, your business may suffer setbacks. This is where the best Reporting software can help businesses identify new opportunities, detect trends, and improve performance with powerful business intelligence reports. Reporting software with inbuilt visualization tools enhances the competencies of managers and business leaders to make informed business decisions.

What is a Reporting Software?

Reporting software is a set of application tools that assist businesses in creating insightful business intelligence(BI) reports, automates reporting functions, and integrates with all channels critical for fetching valuable data. Granular data analyzed with sophisticated reporting software integrated with machine learning can lead to winning analytics for companies. Reporting software tools also possess the functional expertise to complement the analytical talent of the data scientists, BI executives, and managers employed by organizations. It comes with other features such as tracking KPIs, building customized reporting dashboards, enterprise reporting, data blending, visual analysis, and many more. 

How to Select the Best Reporting Software? 

One needs to analyze the types, usability, average pricing, key aspects, and important features against one’s business type and size to find the most suitable reporting software for one’s business. Doing all this on your own can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. This is where GoodFirms can help you to pick the best reporting system software for your business. GoodFirms' software product listing platform is a reliable source for B2B buyers to browse and unearth some of the world's top reporting tools. Compiled by GoodFirms' experienced software research team, the list of top reporting software allows you to choose from the best available reporting software products.  Check the features, reviews, pricing,  apply filters, and compare various software applications on this page and select the best one that fits your business’ needs. 

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Buyer’s Guide

Buyer’s Guide to Reporting Software

Reports are incredibly important in the day-to-day functioning of any enterprise or unit. Whether made in detail or summarization of events, reports form the basis for crucial decision making and action.

They are utilized by a variety of institutions and industries, from - medical and software to national security establishments. 

Reporting software has gained prominence and followers with its ability to automate report production, accurate analytics tools, and multi-platform uniformity. 

The buyer's guide detailing the reporting software elucidates the features and advantages to potential buyers of these digital tools, helping them choose the right fit for their business.

What is a Report?

  • A report is a set of information furnished regarding a topic in a particular format as decided.  
  • A report’s information is presented with due importance given to its granularity and analysis, often decided by a guiding authority. A report suggests courses of action and expected results.      
  • Reports deliver key insights to personnel, irrespective of designation, within an organization, keeping in mind the specific or general purposes they are generated for.  
  • Reports are presented in written formats though, oral reports are not uncommon.

What are the different types of reports?

Reports are of various types as detailed below –

  1. Formal and Informal reports – Formal reports espouse a certain structure and language. The information conveyed is very detailed, often presented to persons of significant authority. Informal reports are produced with casual language and with a lack of high detailing in their presentation.
  2. Short and Long Reports – Short reports are usually one-pagers with a focus on summary than significant details. Long reports are generally far more detailed and thus have no page limit on their presentation. Long reports are usually formal.
  3. Informational and Analytical reports – When it comes to publishing several aspects of an entity, presenting an overall view of data is necessary. We call it an informational report. For e.g., Annual Reports. Analytical reports usually focus on a particular element or aspect of the entity, with in-depth data insights. (E.g., Workflow reports).  
  4. Proposal Reports – Better known as Request For Proposal (RFP) in business lingo, proposal reports explain how one organization may fulfill the business goals of another, through adequate use of resources and cooperation. E.g., Governments issuing RFPs.  
  5. Vertical Reports and Lateral Reports – Vertical reports foster management coordination by traveling up and down a hierarchy. E.g., division performance reports. Lateral reports usually contain information necessary for inter-departmental cooperation. E.g., Status of a commonly shared IT resource.
  6. Internal and External Reports - Internal reports are distributed to personnel within an organization only. E.g., Employee appraisal reports. External reports contain facts that are to be distributed to recipients outside the organization, e.g., Annual reports.    
  7. Periodic Reports – Just as the name suggests, periodic reports are formal and maintain a set structure, which contains information that needs to be presented over a specific time repeatedly. E.g., Economic performance of a company presented quarterly.
  8. Functional reports – These reports consist of data relevant to a particular function, for which they are used. E.g., Marketing and Sales Reports, etc. Functional reports are classified as –
    • Pre-printed forms 
    • Letters
    • Memos
    • Manuscripts

What is the importance of reporting in business?

Business reports carry crucial information about the health and facets of the organization. Some of their critical contributions can be listed as follows –

Performance Improvement - Business reports present an overall and/or detailed view of the organization’s performance. These reports are compared to previous editions or set objectives. Any inefficiency identified is quickly resolved. 

Planning – Reports can point business in the way forward. Analyzing reports can help firms identify and outline the strategy in the New Year. E.g., Financial reports will help companies decide on a take-over or cash dividends, etc.    

Compliance and control – Ensuring business follow correct protocol in all their activities, ranging from financial to environmental issues. Business reports guarantee quick decision making in course correction.

Cost reduction – Reports help to benchmark costs incurred over specific periods and ensure streamlining of performances to meet financial goals.

Stakeholder Management – Reports aid stakeholders in understanding the health of business and operations. These reports also play a pivotal role in estimating the value of the firm. These inputs to important decisions ensure businesses remain profitable.

Influencing Investors – Whether it be determining the stock price or the amount of funding to a startup, reports dominate investor sentiments, playing a pivotal part in the projection of the firm.

Business Intelligence - Reports help businesses map competition. They also help reveal market trends, patterns, and unaddressed needs, which present themselves as unchartered opportunities.

What is Reporting Software?

Reporting Software automates the entire process of report generation. Collating and compiling data from a central database or from multiple sources (as required), the software makes it possible to represent complex information in multiple and insightful formats for a variety of purposes. This includes analytical as well as general publishing reports.    

Reporting tools reduce the manual element in report synthesis, making the process faster and highly accurate. This increases overall efficiency. Reporting systems now also make use of revolutionary techniques such as Artificial Intelligence-based as well as geo-location-based reporting.

A combination of business intelligence and visualization techniques have increased the patronage of Reporting Software.

Visualization ensures reports can be presented in multiple formats - or a mixture of them - and not text-only. These make reports beautiful and exciting to parse through. 

Reports can be made on an ad-hoc basis using real-time data or can be spread over periods as specified by the user. A majority of report generator software today are online reporting tools.

How does Reporting Software Work?

Despite the complexities involved in their implementation and functioning, Reporting Software readies reports in just a few steps.

With advanced data-linking techniques, the reporting software is initially “paired” with single or multiple databases as per demands. 

The databases and warehouses contain “raw data”, which must be processed by the online reporting software.

Every reporting system has an interface, which executes a set of functions, as per the decision of the user. The function or set of functions requested by the user is called a “query”.

Once a query is an input, the reporting tool scans multiple databases online. It tries to match the queries provided by the user to the exact dataset(s).

Once the raw data is found, the data is extracted by the online reporting system and presented to the user on the interface, in the format specified. This can be charts, tables, and other visualizations.

Why do businesses need Reporting Software?

Reporting usually presents information that is vital to an organization’s functioning. Reporting software, therefore, is necessary for the following reasons.

Time Efficient – Manual reports are time-consuming and consist of flaws which may run undetected. Reporting software rapidly reduces the time taken to query and publish the reports and is incredibly accurate, aiding business decision making.

Course correction – With data extracted from multiple sources and represented cohesively, the organization has a detailed view of their functioning, from multiple perspectives. They can be used to ensure the business remains nimble in different scenarios.

Compliance – Reports published on reporting platforms usually have a high level of granularity in them, which can highlight deviations from standard operating procedures. Investigation of the causes of the deviations is conducted to ensure businesses remain in the ambit of financial, environmental and other regulations.  

Business Intelligence – Online reporting can help depict industry as well as organization-specific data from reliable sources. Businesses then derive decisions by re-engineering these reports, based on multiple market scenarios.   

Maintaining Financial Fluidity – Financial reporting software helps businesses stay abreast of several financial ratios, cash burn equations as well as remittances and payments that the firm must maintain for smooth operation.

Security -  Ensuring select users may attain access to sensitive data and dashboards.

What are some of the Features of reporting software?

Presentation – Online reporting tools can visually present data in multiple forms for enhanced analysis. These are not limited to bar graphs, charts, line graphs, etc., but also other visual formats. 

Automation – This feature is useful when reports need to be generated within certain periodic intervals on when an event is triggered. Reporting systems also publish reports after completing complex operations on data, without human intervention, thereby increasing business efficiency.    

Dashboards – Every Reporting platform has dashboards set up to ensure data granularity for key performance indicators (KPIs). They track and analyze data to specify variations, while ensuring the business remains in the best of health. Data dashboards are customizable and dependent on the user.

Analytics Engine - With such a large amount of data to trawl through, it is obvious most online reporting software arrives with a pre-installed analytics engine. These custom engines help drill down to the most granular pieces of data to arrive at suitable conclusions regarding multiple business division decisions.

Reporting APIs – Reports are required on-the-go. APIs provide web applications with the capability to produce reports using various platform features, on various aspects, with consistency.  

Third-party app integration – All reporting tools now have integrations of external applications to help perform additional functions. E.g., Statistical tools are now integrated with reporting platforms.    

User Management – With a focus on security, online reporting systems only allow select personnel from an organization or department to view sensitive and business defining reports or dashboards. 

Report Sharing – Whether by mail or intra-organizational chat services, most online reporting software help in the rapid sharing of data by converting reports into pdf or word documents that are sent to addressees. It can also be printed with functions on the toolbar so that a hard copy is available to read.

Report Editing features – Users can edit fields within reports, even after report generation, and include only those fields necessary for decision making. The tools to enable the same are present within the software and don’t need third-party integration.  

Alerts and Notifications – Online reporting software generates an alert every time a report is published, and when it is shared.

What are the Advantages of Reporting Systems?

Quick and Easy data retrieval – Online reporting tools are fast with data retrieval, processing, and display. This helps users spend more time in analysis and decision making.

Data accuracy – With no data loss in processes or incorrect functions performed - as was the case with manual reports -  reporting tools set the bar high for data accuracy.

Data Granularity – Online reporting software can extract, process and present data with as much detail as required, fulfilling deep-diving requirements. Analysts can drill-down to minute details, ensuring accurate decisions.

Data Management and Security – Reporting systems ensure sanctity is maintained in the databases which it operates on. Rules for data manipulation are strictly defined such that no operation may be allowed to completely change the structure of the database or the fields within. 

Similarly, access to specific data is protected against unauthorized access. Alerts prevent theft by promptly informing security personnel of possible breaches.   

Visualizations – Data presented in visual formats, and not just text alone, helps those. Visualizations present data from different perspectives, using different parameters, functions and rule sets - bringing forth details generally missed in the plain analysis.      

Integrations and add-ons – Numerous third-party applications, or in-house add-ons, help reporting software execute a variety of functions. Be it enhanced security, analytical tools or multiple formats for reports, the integrations are very helpful

Platform independence – Reporting software can be used on multiple operating systems, irrespective of the platform being Android, iOS or Windows. Its multi-platform usability is an asset.

What are the disadvantages of not implementing reporting Software?

Inefficient manual reports – Manual reporting is time-consuming, prone to human errors, and does not generate enough in-sight for business to ensure accurate decision making. This robs businesses of competitive insight.

Lack of Business Intelligence – Reporting tools enable business intelligence. Their absence severely decapitates businesses. Progressive business development decisions and other key industry insights are aspects that become severely limited.

Data Plurality Problems – An online reporting system can fetch data from multiple sources instantly. Comparing that to manual reporting, the scope, scale, and depth of data extracted are exhaustive. Not implementing reporting software can lead to businesses becoming stagnant.  

Visualization impediments – Visualizations bring out patterns, aspects, and discrepancies in decision making and business operations that organizations may miss otherwise. The absence of this capability, prevalent in reporting systems, may stunt business growth.

Automation deficiencies – Reporting software enables automation of reports, which saves time and improves the efficiency of those in charge of decision analysis and strategy. Forgoing the software increases the load on human personnel, thereby increasing inefficiency.  

Lack of inter-departmental coordination – Reporting software generates reports which are easily distributable between divisions for their analysis. A common reporting format, sharing capability and dashboard analysis helps departments in coming to a common strategy to increase business efficiency.

How can businesses improve productivity with reporting software?

Online reporting tools have taken the stress off manual reporting. With features such as automated reports and in-depth analytical capabilities, managers and dashboard analysts can focus on strategies to implement data insight to better use for the organization.

This leads to productivity improvements. Likewise, different business divisions can focus on a common source of data insights generated by reporting software. The common and easily shareable reports generated facilitate inter-departmental cooperation, which increases overall business cohesion and efficiency.

Functional reporting software such as financial reporting software, marketing, and sales reporting systems, etc., make it easy for division-specific business decisions when necessary. These reports can then be shared/analyzed by concerned authority instead of collating single reports and pouring over them, decreasing efficiency.

Reporting software solves all prevalent problems of manual reports, especially in cases where quick retrieval and visualization of data is necessary.

What is the average price of reporting software?

The cost of reporting systems varies on the size of the business. Greater the number of operations that require business reporting, the greater is the need to set up accounts and costs incurred.

Price also depends on the kind of reporting software demand – E.g., a Marketing reporting software or a financial reporting software, alongside the integrations.

Prices also depend on the type of plans utilized by organizations. Whether it is a free version followed by additional paid features or a premium version, prices depend on company chosen products.   

Several free and open-source online reporting systems are present in the market, such as Eclipse BIRT and JSReport. Databox allows users to begin with a free version with basic functionalities. Staggered pricing levels based on additional functionalities demanded are provided. LogicMonitor functions on a quotation price system, after analyzing business needs and requirements.  

Zoho Analytics and the super popular Tableau charge a monthly recurring fee of $22.50 and $70, respectively. Most of the reporting software is priced within this range. 

SharePoint Manager Plus by Manage Plus charges a premium of $945 per user per year.   

What are the factors to consider before buying a reporting software?

Price – The reporting software must be affordable for the organization to deploy, especially when there is a necessity to renew subscriptions and employ unique features.

Support – Customer support is crucial when it comes to complex software implementation.  Whether it is a simple installation or training of advanced features, necessary support must be forthcoming from the reporting software company.  

Features – Besides common reporting functionalities, reporting software should have additional features. Extra analytical tools and functions, report conversions, database extraction parameters, etc., are some of the most important features reporting systems must espouse.

Data Visualization formats – Online reporting systems must be able to represent data in a multitude of formats. These visualizations are what separate reporting tools from reporting tools like Microsoft Excel. These visualizations aid businesses in assessing problems from different angles, converging in an umbrella solution.   

Data Security – Data protection is a vital aspect of reporting software considering the swathes of data accessed by it. Security personnel must ensure that the right security protocols will be implemented in place to prevent unauthorized access and theft from online databases.

User Interface – The online reporting software must have a decluttered and easy to maneuver interface that facilitates quick learning and usability. Simplification of report display and other necessary features must be easy to navigate to on the interface, with all necessary information dashboards displayed as well.

How to choose a reporting software for your business?

Reporting software for your firm must depend, firstly, on the size of your organization. If you are a multi-national company with many business streams, it makes sense to purchase and implement reporting software on a large scale.

Smaller firms need not require the same brass of reporting software used in big firms. They can make do with specific analysis requirements and features but not on the scale of bigger firms.

A similar train of thought specifies the future growth of the organization determines the scale of reporting systems purchased. The higher the ceiling of growth, the faster your enterprise clocks revenue and market share growth – the more detailed your reporting function must be.

This leads us to our second point- budget. Budgetary restrictions play a key role in determining your online reporting tools capabilities.

Thirdly, you need to decide upon the function for which the online dashboard is needed. Reporting tools for marketers will have marketing specific reporting capabilities included. Similarly, sales reporting tools have functionalities to process data specifically related to sales. So understanding the needs of different parts of the business concerning reporting software must be a priority.

Lastly, it is important to understand if your present hardware configurations can match those of the system requirements specified by the reporting system’s requirements.

Age and version of the operating system, database resources, etc., must be considered.

It is also important to consult key Information Technology and administrative staff on the purchase decision.

Why consider Goodfirms' list of top reporting software?

Goodfirms has pioneered to present probable buyers of reporting software a rigorously researched, exhaustive, and demand a fulfilling list of reporting tools. Prospective buyers should ensure they consider all possible factors before finalizing reporting software.

By listing down the features, benefits as well as cost structures of many reporting software, Goodfirms has sought to reveal some of the best free and open-source, subscription-based, freemium as well as premium online reporting systems.

Goodfirms’s tranche of information for those seeking a great set of options for their reporting needs, based on their size of business and capabilities, is second to none.

Conclusion

The decision to buy the correct online reporting software depends on a business’s size and scope and the budget. Generally, users consider features of the software, life-time of expected use, customer support, etc., before finalizing a purchase.  

Goodfirms presents prospective users with a chance to compare and contrast different reporting tools, based on specification, to finalize a set of options for further testing.

Feel free to peruse through Goodfirms’ dedicated software pages and visit vendor sites for further information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is the Best Reporting Tool?

    Analytics has changed the way Corporates work today. Businesses can easily recognize patterns in the data ecosystems with the help of next-generation technologies such as reporting software solutions that generate, aggregate, analyze and represent data in an insightful manner. The best reporting software tools provide organizations with all tools to set up a high-quality, unfailing, automated, and self-managed reporting system. It is easy to implement and provides maximum return on investment. The best reporting software assists businesses in accelerating and streamlining their reporting workflows. The best reporting software unleashes accurate analytics and reliable insights about business performance and leads businesses in improving their overall processes. GoodFirms has listed the best reporting software solutions such as datapine, Tableau, Zoho Analytics, Helical Insight, etc. For the complete list of best reporting tools, see our products section on this page.

  • What is the Role of Reporting Software for Small Businesses?

    Reporting solutions help small businesses in capturing vital business information and analytics regarding their financial data, employee performance, sales, inventory demand, utilization of assets and resources, customer preferences, etc. Such reports coupled with key analytics lead small businesses in making the right decisions, improve their management effectiveness, and gain control of business activities. Accurate reporting tools help small businesses in reviewing their current position and make necessary adjustments or find alternate solutions for mitigating all types of business challenges.

  • What Key Performance Indicators for Your Business can be Tracked Using Reporting Software?

    Data reporting tools can track and report various critical business key performance indicators:  Sales KPIs such as Sales representatives’ performance,  deals in the pipeline, conversions, deals won and lost, etc. Marketing KPIs such as website traffic, CTR, marketing ROI, conversion rate, marketing event analytics, etc. Social Media analytics such as SEM, engagement rates, funnel reporting, etc. Financial KPIs such as cash flow analysis, invoiced amount, financial ratios, liquidity ratios, budget vs. spending, profit analysis, etc. Project Management KPIs such as on-time delivery metrics, resource capacity, number of canceled or delayed projects, successful project rate, etc.

  • How Does Reporting Software Complement Market Research?

    When companies undertake market research, next-generation reporting platforms provide objective insights, actionable points, and accurate market analytics that lead to faster business decisions. It also allows market researchers to present survey data on customized market research dashboards. It can segregate reporting based on multiple market research parameters such as separate reports for brand awareness, customer demand, product analysis, etc. Users can easily compare findings and visualize research findings on a captivating dashboard.

  • What is Geo-Visualization in Reporting System?

    Geo-visualization is a technique of analysis of data spread across various geospatial locations. Businesses use the geo-visualization feature of reporting software to understand trends, patterns, and complex business information spread across geographic locations. Reporting software tools represent the critical business insights in the context of time and location using maps, graphs, and cartograms. Geo-visualization reporting can solve various business issues and provide optimal solutions. For instance, businesses can decide the most profitable route for transportation of their goods from point A to point B by logistics visualization on a map. Airlines can visualize geospatial weather data to reroute their flights. Retailers can use geospatial analysis for targeting audiences across international boundaries.

  • Are there any Free and Open Source Reporting Software?

    Yes, there are some best free and open source reporting tools available in the market. Some of the best free and open source reporting software solutions are Eclipse Birt, JSreport, Helical Insight, KNIME, Metabase, Knowage, SQL Power Wabit,  etc. These open source reporting tools can be customized to add your business-specific features. You can also find some free reporting software on GoodFirms’ reporting software product page.

  • What are the Valuable Software Integrations Options Available with Reporting Software?

    Popular software solutions that integrate with reporting tools are CRM software, Project Management software, Data visualization software, Business intelligence software, Data Analysis software, etc.

Resources for Reporting Software