I know reporting can be scary. It is the part of our jobs that, instead of dealing with people, deals with numbers. If you are currently scared of your reports, it means your company has not been able to find the right tool to help display a condensed view of performance information. Right after this quick list of the best tools I have selected, you can find out the reasons behind my selection.
Below you’ll find an overview of each of the 10 best reporting tools, with screenshots, feature overviews, and pricing.
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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
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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.
Google Data Studio is a free tool that enables you to convert data into comprehensive reports and dashboards. You can use Google Data Studio to pull data from other sources like spreadsheets, Google Analytics, and Google Ads. Google Data Studio’s dashboards are shareable and can empower team members by allowing them access to information critical to decision-making.
Google Data Studio is a free reporting tool with a user-friendly interface that’s easy to use even if you don’t have a background in data analytics. It comes with useful features like pre-built data connectors, data visualization, and calculated metrics. It allows you to add custom filters ensuring you can present data the way you intend to.
Google Data Studio readily integrates with Google Ads, Google BigQuery, YouTube, and MySQL unlike other free reporting tools that require API modifications to integrate with other systems.
Google Data Studio is a free reporting tool.
Power BI is a cloud-based suite of analytics and reporting tools you can get with Office 365 Enterprise. It also has a mobile app version. You can use its analytics feature to dig deep and find patterns in your data that you can use to come up with actionable insights. Power BI lets you access data from cloud-based sources like SharePoint, Salesforce, and Azure SQL DB.
Power BI is an excellent reporting tool for scaling organizations because—instead of paying on a per user basis—you can pay on a per capacity basis so you’re charged based on the computing power your business needs. You can use Power BI to create reports with interactive data visualizations that make information easier to understand. It has themes, formatting, and layout tools you can use to come up with personalized reports.
Additionally, you can use Power BI to create mobile-optimized reports that are viewable on smart devices.
Power BI pricing starts at $9.99/user/month and they offer a free trial upon request.
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.
ThoughSpot is a developer-friendly platform that allows users to create custom data apps to integrate with their existing cloud system. The software also allows users to share charts, dashboards, and data models with groups and individuals inside and outside of their company.
ThoughtSpot is an excellent option for beginners who need a reporting tool because it utilizes artificial intelligence to assist users. It assists users by spotting anomalies and trends to help save analysts’ time.
ThoughSpot has dozens of built-in charts with advanced configurations you can use to present your data in a way that tells a story. ThoughtSpot has a drag and drop feature so you can arrange, customize, and pin charts and tables easily. ThoughtSpot sends real-time alerts and notifications on email or mobile when it detects changes in key metrics that may require human intervention.
ThoughtSpot provides customized pricing upon customer request. They offer a free 30-day trial.
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.
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.
Need expert help selecting the right Reporting Dashboard Software?
We’ve joined up with the software comparison platform Crozdesk.com to assist you in finding the right software. Crozdesk’s Reporting Dashboard Software advisors can create a personalized shortlist of software solutions with unbiased recommendations to help you identify the solutions that best suit your business’s needs. Through our partnership you get free access to their bespoke software selection advice, removing both time and hassle from the research process.
It only takes a minute to submit your requirements and they will give you a quick call at no cost or commitment. Based on your needs you’ll receive customized software shortlists listing the best-fitting solutions from their team of software advisors (via phone or email). They can even connect you with your selected vendor choices along with community negotiated discounts. To get started, please complete the form below:
14 days free trial
|From $10/user/month||Check out ProWorkflow|
14 day free trial. No credit card required
|From $12/user/month||Check out Hive|
|Check out Google Data Studio|
30 days free trial
|From $9.99/user/month||Check out Power BI for Office 365|
14 days free trial
|From $70/user/month||Check out Tableau|
|Check out Thoughtspot|
|Check out Octoboard|
|Check out Zoho Analytics|
|Check out Dundas|
|Check out Knowi|
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?
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