You may have dabbled with something like MS reporting/Report Builder in the past. In fact, many of the tools you use in your day-to-day work life probably have some sort of reporting function built-in. As your projects grow, you’ll need something more unified and more robust to handle the amount of input and the level of detail required.
This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best reporting portals and other BI reporting tools. I will explain how automating reports can decrease your team’s administrative load and free up time to explore and create. I’ve picked some stand-out business intelligence reporting applications and outlined them in the body of this article. Keep reading for a simple comparison of my favorite data reporting tools.
I will answer some FAQs about business intelligence products and how you can best use them to your advantage. Additionally, I’ll tell you what you should look for in ad hoc reporting tools and outline the evaluation criteria I use when testing any reporting app.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Reporting System Apps
Business reporting software takes your scattered, arbitrary data and turns it into something that you can read and interpret to make better decisions. Before you can do that, you need to do some research and find the reporting software that is going to work best for you.
Data Reporting FAQ
There’s a lot to know about report writing software. Before you can even begin to narrow down the choices you have to understand the basics. Consider this FAQ as a primer before we jump into the report writer software reviews.
What is a reporting tool?
A reporting tool, or software reporting tool, is a system that takes in data from various sources and extrapolates it in tables, charts, visual presentations, and other styles so that the information is easier to parse. For example, Tableau reporting tools use data blending and drill-down to help users look for variations and/or patterns.
What are the types of reporting tools?
There are many types of reporting tools, such as dashboard software, data visualization software, scorecard tools, and ad-hoc report writers. Dashboard software lets you put the reports that matter most to you front-and-center; data visualization software is all about turning data into something visually-oriented that users can easily read; scorecarding tools are all about performance data so you know who your high achievers are, and ad-hoc report writers create various styles of reports in-the-moment for companies who have ever-changing needs.
What are BI tools?
BI tools pull data from various sources and visualize it in a way that users find useful. BI tools may gather, organize, and analyze data into meaningful reports that can be printed or redistributed in some way.
What are the benefits of reporting tools?
Reporting tools are beneficial because they gather data across sources (inventory, sales, conversion, web traffic, social media impressions, time spent, and so on) and then organize it in a visual way for users to read and interpret. Reports can typically be saved into different formats, printed and distributed, visualized, and presented, so it is a great way to convey large amounts of useful information quickly. Also, reporting allows you to ask big-picture questions and then collect the data you need to make the best decisions.
Not looking for report software at the moment? Check out our other lists of other project management tools you might find useful:
- Look at project portfolio management tools, which can help you conduct and communicate your reports on a higher level and across projects.
- Communication, communication, communication. If you haven’t nailed this, you can’t really get started on anything else. Try these 10 Best Communication Tools & Software.
- Find reporting tools within other software, such as my list of the best marketing project management software.
Reporting Database Comparison Criteria
What are we looking for when we add items to our BI tools list? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive? Are the reports aesthetically pleasing and easy to interpret?
- Usability: How easy is it to learn?
- Features & Functionality
a. Robust reporting – Does the software features automatic reporting tools that are flexible, easy to learn, scalable, and visually appealing? Can the data be visualized in a variety of different ways? Can you export, print, share, and project reports with relative ease?
b. Dashboard customization – Can you build a digital marketing dashboard, finance, and budgets dashboard, or anything else you can think of with relative ease? Are dashboards drag-and-drop or otherwise intuitively built?
c. Source options – Can the tool pull data easily from a variety of sources? Or is it limited to one or two options? Can it pull data from different types of sources, like web pages to spreadsheets to apps to accounting software?
d. Deep data search functions – Is data easy to search using both technical and non-technical language and specifications? Are there different ways to “ask questions” of your data, depending on user ability or preference?
4. Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
5. Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
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Overviews Of The Top 10 Reporting Tool List
Here’s a brief description of each of the reporting apps that are featured on this top 10 list.
Wrike is an easy-to-use project management reporting tool that is suitable for teams with anywhere from five to an unlimited number of team members. It’s a highly configurable project management software that allows users to customize workflows, dashboards, reports, request forms, and more.
Wrike’s intuitive reporting tool enables users to choose from 12 different visualizations of metrics, and track time management, project progress, team productivity, budget use, portfolio health, and more. Users can also schedule reports to their inbox or share them with stakeholders.
Wrike’s reporting tools can be configured for each individual team’s needs, with a number of solutions available for specific industries such as marketing and professional services. The tool also features an easy-to-use report builder and a number of prebuilt templates for tracking common metrics. Users can build reports from scratch, create new templates, or adapt previous reports. Wrike also has a dedicated help center with interactive training, videos, a ‘Getting Started’ guide, and a thriving community.
Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and QuickBooks, as well as with file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox.
Wrike starts at $9.80/user/month and has a free version for up to 5 users. There is also a 14-day free trial for paid plans.
Reportei generates digital marketing reports quickly, focusing on social media data and analytics. This tool is great for agencies, freelancers, and digital marketing professionals that need to save time on reporting and spend more time on analysis.
Reportei also offers a marketing timeline feature, allowing users to add events and milestones throughout the project to the timeline and categorize them to keep track of overall project progress.
Integrations include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Google Analytics, and other channels.
Pricing starts at $14.50/month.
FineReport is a professional reporting tool designed to empower companies to generate reports and dashboards without dealing with technical complexities.
FineReport’s basic features include broad database support, data integration, report scheduling, multiple exporting formats, and security features. Users can create complex reports, and live dashboards with plenty of 2D & 3D charts, as well as GIS maps with some neat animations. The tool supports responsive display on PCs and mobile, and offers dashboards with BIM and IoT scenario capabilities.
The tool also has a great data entry feature, which allows users to leverage widgets and forms to input report information directly into relevant databases. Data validation features ensure the data’s properties are accurate. This provides teams with an efficient way of collecting the latest information via web forms.
The excel-like and low-code reporting features also allow teams to connect to mainstream databases and NoSQL databases, as well as integrate multiple data sources in one report. User permissions, authentications, and authorizations are also included to ensure data security.
FineReport integrates with third-party software such as CRM, OA, ERP, and other systems. It also provides rich APIs for customization.
FineReport is free for personal use. Pricing for paid plans is available upon request.
Created in 2002, ProWorkflow was designed as a project management solution that supported analytics and reporting needs. When you log in to this tool, you immediately see a user-friendly dashboard showing a graphical summary of your current stats for active, completed, and upcoming work.
Standard reports provide detailed information on workload and performance as well as your projects, tasks, time, and financial data. Custom reports let you build your own report, select the filters and data that you need, and even share the report with your team.
Visually, the reporting screens and downloads aren’t much to look at. The data is solid and easy to read but if you are looking for some added physical pizzaz, you might need to deploy some manual graphic design intervention.
Key features you can tap into include: resource reports on staff and time, workload breakdown reports, time summary reports, individual project reports, general project reports, task reports, and the ability to export reports to multiple formats.
ProWorkflow integrates with tools like Xero, Quickbooks, KashFlow, FreshBooks, MYOB AccountRight, Box Storage, DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and hundreds more through Zapier.
ProWorkflow costs from $10/user/month, which includes a maximum of 10 active projects.
Hive is a robust tool for project management, reporting, and flexible task coordination. By leveraging AI and machine learning, Hive Analytics provides interactive dashboards to gain actionable insights on team productivity and proactively spot risks. Manage team utilization across specific projects or clients by accurately allocating current and future resources according to real-time data.
Reporting tools also estimate and track time spent on projects for accurate resource allocation, client billing, and future project planning. Record time spent on specific projects or tasks by filling out timesheets directly in Hive. Access timesheet reports that make it easy for your team to see the big picture.
It’s worth noting that if you’re switching to Hive from another tool, you can import data from tools including Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Smartsheet, and a few others.
Hive integrates with Google Drive, Salesforce, Jira, Dropbox, Slack, Zoom, One Drive, Box, and more than one thousand other tools through Zapier.
Hive costs from $12/user/month.
The Best Reporting Tools Summary Chart
Other Dashboard Reporting Tools Options
Here’s a few more auto reporting tools that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for the handy ad hoc report tool, check these out.
- Qlik – combines all your data and makes it analysis-ready for everyone to freely explore, amplified by machine intelligence for better results.
- Inetsoft – data intelligence that unites business intelligence (BI) and machine learning (ML) to extract value from your data.
- Domo – works with your data lakes, data warehouses, ETL tools, and more, to deliver data insights with built-in collaboration and productivity tools.
- Board – explore your data, run effective analysis, build interactive dashboards, and create impactful reports.
- Sisense – API-first cloud technology with interactive dashboards, self-service analytics, and white-labeled BI apps for your use.
- Periscope – explore and analyze data using SQL, Python, and R with rapidly prototype machine learning models, including sentiment and text analysis using NLP.
- Looker – connect with Redshift, Snowflake, BigQuery, as well as 50+ supported SQL dialects to build embedded visualizations and data science workflows.
- Klipfolio – connect hundreds of data sources, including spreadsheets, files, databases, and web services applications to build data visualizations.
- Smartsheet – connect and integrate with tools and apps you are already using in order to glean real-time insights into the work that’s being done by teams across the organization.
- Workamajig – gain insights from your management dashboard to pinpoint efficiencies or bottlenecks and create relevant reports based on user needs.
- Clarizen – capture and track all your project and team data in real-time, including effort, status, issues, and change requests.
- TapClicks – marketing report tool (TapReports) and marketing performance analytics (TapAnalytics) with a clean, streamlined UI.
- Supermetrics – centralize all your marketing data in their marketing data warehouse, build dashboards and reports with ad-hoc analysis.
- AgencyAnalytics – integrate with more than 30 platforms to build a complete marketing dashboard and optimize your work with SEO reporting software.
- Funnel – automatically collect all the data you need from any data source and feed it directly to your data warehouse, dashboard solution, or any other tool you’re using.
- ClicData – a cloud-based business intelligence platform offering a built-in data warehouse and ETL features that allow data processing and management as well as a dashboard designer and automated reporting tools.
- Mixpanel – behavioral analytics tool to analyze website site user engagement, monitor KPIs, and easily generate reports.
What Do You Think About Our Business Intelligence Tools Comparison?
Have you tried out any business intelligence reporting tools listed above? What automated reporting system would you recommend, and why?