There are seemingly countless reporting tools available, so figuring out which is best for you is tough. You want to share data with your team in the most accessible and accurate way possible but need to figure out which tool is the best fit. I've got you! In this post I make things simple, leveraging my experience using a variety of different reporting tools for everything from large projects to business growth to bring you this shortlist of the best reporting tools.
What are reporting tools?
Reporting tools are software that help businesses collect, process, and present data in an organized and understandable format. They pull data from various sources, like databases and spreadsheets, and turn it into reports that display trends, patterns, and insights. These reports can be in the form of tables, charts, graphs, and dashboards, making complex data easier to understand at a glance.
Reporting software is invaluable for decision-making, as it provides managers and stakeholders with the information needed to understand performance, identify areas for improvement, and plan future actions, which can mean more informed strategies, efficient operations, and a stronger bottom line.
Zoho Analytics is an analytics and reporting tool to help you convert raw business data into comprehensive reports and dashboards. You can use it to collect, enrich, and filter data to make it easier to analyze. It has an AI assistant feature to help you generate insights, spot patterns, and forecast trends. Zoho Analytics has a mobile app version that works on iOS and Android.
Zoho Analytics lets you use charts, widgets, and pivot tables ensuring you can present data in the best possible way. Zoho Analytics allows you to collaborate with other users to build and share custom reports and dashboards. Its user permission settings give you control over who can view and edit your data according to need and/or authority.
Zoho Analytics cost starts at $24/month/up to 2 users. They offer a 15-day free trial.
QuickBooks is an accounting solution that helps small businesses track their expenses, manage their invoicing, and report on their financials. The software tracks your transaction details, helping you keep accurate records. Based on the finances you track in the system, you can view how much you're spending in each expense category from your dashboard.
The platform offers a simple, low-cost expense reporting solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. Receipts are sorted automatically, and you can reclassify transactions in bulk. You can also generate invoices, and even set up recurring invoices for repeat clients or customers.
QuickBooks Online integrates with over 450 business apps like Square, Stripe, Paychex, Insightly CRM, Mailchimp, Shopify, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Squarespace, Etsy, Katana, and ProjectWorks. Pricing starts from $30 per month, and a 30-day free trial is available.
Datapine is a great reporting software as it offers business users an uncomplicated and secure way to monitor as well as communicate key performance indicators (KPIs) effectively and quickly within one central analytics platform. This empowers everyone within the company to access at any time up-to-date, accurate information to make the right, data-driven decisions.
Datapine belongs to a new generation of reporting tools and offers, thanks to its ease-of-use, access to advanced analytics features even for non-technical users. Different data sources (flat files, databases, CRM and ERP-systems, social platforms, etc.) that are needed for the reports, can be integrated with a few clicks.
Customized, visual KPIs can be built via drag and drop and stored on dynamic, interactive dashboards. These professional KPI dashboards are also the core of datapine’s BI reporting solution. They offer a wealth of modern dashboard functionalities such as sophisticated global filter, predictive analytics as well as AI-based and interactive dashboard features.
Moreover, you can choose from over 80 professional dashboard templates for different business functions and industries. Finally, the dashboards can be shared in multiple ways such as automatic email reports, sharing live dashboards via URL or embedding them in external applications.
Datapine offers a 14-day free trial without any limitations with custom pricing starting at $250 per account.
Whatagraph is a reporting tool for marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams that helps you get the right data in front of your customers and in a way they understand.
With this tool, you can create reports in minutes thanks to their 95+ templates and connectors to multiple data sources. Also, you can make these reports customized to your client by changing the colors and adding their logo.
Once you are done making it pretty, Whatagraph lets you automate report delivery so your clients can get their weekly, monthly or quarterly reports, and all you have to do is set the time interval! No more '$!@, I forgot to send the report' moments.
Whatagraph integrates with over 40 tools. These include Facebook, Shopify, Mailchimp, Salesforce, and Tik Tok Ads. All of them can be used as data sources for your reports.
Whatagraph has a 7-day free trial, and pricing starts at $199 per month, which gets you 25 data sources and 5 users, with unlimited reports.
Tableau is a visual analytics platform for exploring, understanding, and managing business data. It uses a drag and drop method to create reports using the available data visualizations and widgets.Tableau uses interactive data visualizations so you can create visually-compelling reports that viewers can click to explore.
If you need to build powerful dashboards quickly, Tableau is the best reporting tool for you because of its embedded analytics features. The embedded analytics are customizable through an API so you can insert data collection and reporting functionality into your pre-existing workflow. This can also help you personalize your customers’ data experience.
Tableau integrates with other business tools, including Google Cloud, Microsoft SQL Server, Google Sheets, Hive, and SAP.
Tableau pricing starts at $12/user/month, and they offer a 14-day free trial.
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.
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.
Projectworks is a business operations platform that offers business intelligence insights to improve company efficiency and profit margins. The tool is designed for professional services companies, with resource management, time tracking, expense reporting, and invoicing functionalities.
This software offers reporting and analytics based on project, resource, and financial management data. Users can track time spent on various tasks and projects, manage expense reports and invoicing, and allocate resources all in one place. This makes for dynamic and informative reporting dashboards, with insights on planned vs. actual time and money spent, project costs, and capacity and revenue forecasting. Customizable templates are available in the platform so users can create meaningful dashboards for their use case.
The platform integrates with common workplace tools like Azure DevOps, Hubspot, Jira, MYOB, QuickBooks, and Xero. Users can unlock additional integrations through a paid Zapier account.
Pricing is available upon request, and users a free trial can be requested on the website.
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.
Octoboard is a self-service software to help you monitor business data like KPIs, financial data, and project status. It has a white-labeling feature to customize reports according to company branding. Octoboard has more than 300 pre-built report templates you can choose from. It is easy to set up, making it a great option for businesses or start-ups without a dedicated IT team.
Octoboard is an excellent option if you're looking for reporting software for automated reporting. It automatically updates, collects, visualizes, and updates data in the cloud and from workstations to ensure you’re working on updated information. It automates reports like PPC, SEO, and social analytics.
Octoboard integrates with other business tools like Constant Contact, Google Analytics, LinkedIn Pages, Zendesk, and QuickBooks.
Octoboard pricing starts at ~$16.41 (€15)/user/month. They offer a free trial upon request.
Best reporting tool for beginners
Best reporting tool for marketing and sales teams
- Power BI for Office 365
Best reporting platform for scaling organizations
- Google Data Studio
Best for sharing & collaboration
Unlimited users, data sources, and integrations in all plans.
Best reporting dashboards that promote collaboration
Best reporting tool for agile teams
Best for reporting on project quotes, time, and financials
- Jira Software
Best reporting tool with issue tracking & release management
Best for collaboration on project reporting
Best reporting tool with interactive dashboards
- Office Timeline
Best for easy PowerPoint reports
Connect with Redshift, Snowflake, BigQuery, as well as 50+ supported SQL dialects to build embedded visualizations and data science workflows.
- Planview Clarizen
Capture and track all your project and team data in real-time, including effort, status, issues, and change requests.
Works with your data lakes, data warehouses, ETL tools, and more, to deliver data insights with built-in collaboration and productivity tools.
Connect hundreds of data sources, including spreadsheets, files, databases, and web services applications to build data visualizations.
Explore your data, run effective analysis, build interactive dashboards, and create impactful reports.
Connect and integrate with tools and apps you already use to glean real-time insights into the work that teams are doing across the organization.
Combines all your data and makes it analysis-ready for everyone to freely explore, amplified by machine intelligence for better results.
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.
API-first cloud technology with interactive dashboards, self-service analytics, and white-labeled BI apps for your use.
Behavioral analytics tool to analyze website site user engagement, monitor KPIs, and easily generate reports.
Marketing report tool (TapReports) and marketing performance analytics (TapAnalytics) with a clean, streamlined UI.
Data intelligence that unites business intelligence (BI) and machine learning (ML) to extract value from your data.
Best for integrations
Explore and analyze data using SQL, Python, and R with rapidly prototype machine learning models, including sentiment and text analysis using NLP.
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.
Best reporting tool for end-to-end data visualization
Centralize all your marketing data in their marketing data warehouse, build dashboards and reports with ad-hoc analysis.
How I Picked the Reporting Software on This List
I started by doing extensive research on the most popular business intelligence tools on the market, based on user reviews and available features. Then, I weighed factors that make a tool a good option for project reporting, like being able to access real-time data. After reducing the number of tools, I selected the ones that came out on top and evaluated them using the criteria below.
User Interface (UI)
I look at how the information is displayed. A report is no good if it’s in a cluttered interface with distracting elements and information overload.
- Data Visualization: Reporting tools often include features for creating visually appealing charts from data sets using graphs and dashboards, thereby enhancing the accessibility of complex project data. Through visual representations, stakeholders can easily comprehend trends and patterns.
- Robust reporting: Normally seen in the form of interactive reports where you can click on items and drill down into the information source. You can also measure robust reporting by the number of filters available to you.
- Real-Time Reporting: Many reporting tools provide updates in real-time or near-real-time, offering project managers access to the latest information on project status, tasks, and milestones. This immediacy facilitates agile decision-making based on current project dynamics.
- Historical Data Analysis: Reporting tools include features for analyzing historical project data, enabling project managers to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement based on past performance. This historical context contributes to informed decision-making and continuous project enhancement.
I analyze the different options in which you can get a report. Whether that is through a screen where we set parameters and get a custom report in return to the dashboards and the capacity to export them. This usability criteria also includes research on the tool’s customer support and resources to help you master it quickly.
I review how many integrations are available for the tool. This analysis will include pre-built integrations that you can use right away and also the tool API available to make custom integrations.
I looked at the tool’s pricing structure. Some of these tools are free, others have low-cost. Likewise, I look at free trials and free versions of the software so you can try them out for yourself.
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 turns data into something visually-oriented that users can easily read.
Then, scorecarding tools are all about performance data. Therefore you know who your high achievers are. Lastly, ad-hoc report writers create various styles of in-the-moment reports for companies that have ever-changing needs.
What is business intelligence software?
BI software is a critical tool for gathering raw data, analyzing it, and presenting it in a user-friendly way to support informed decision-making. BI software aggregates and processes data from various sources, offering project managers a comprehensive and cohesive view of project performance. It enables them to identify trends, monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), and make data-driven decisions that contribute to the successful execution of projects.
What are the benefits of reporting tools?
One benefit is that reporting tools gather data across sources and then organize it visually so users can read and interpret it. These sources are inventory, sales, conversion, web traffic, social media impressions, time spent, and so on.
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. They 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.
- Worth checking out: Managing Tasks As A Project Manager: 3 Key Strategies For 2023
Reporting is a big part of our jobs. Therefore, I encourage you to read how to set up a PM dashboard the right way. You can also check out how to build a project status report that puts a smile on your client's face.
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