Reporting tools solve a key problem for businesses by enabling them to communicate data in a way that is accessible, easy-to-understand, and useful for both frontline staff and management teams. 

These tools take raw data and turn it into tables, charts, and graphs ready for consumption, turning complicated data into visuals that better enable users to spot patterns and trends. These reports help frontline staff perform their role better, for example, by enabling managers to get weekly snapshots of sales across different categories or regions. 

The best reporting tools contain all the features users need to simplify the creation of great-looking reports. In particular, businesses should consider the following:

  • Output - How do the reports look? Are they easy to understand? How many different ways can you display the data?
  • Formats - Can your tool output reports in the formats your teams require? You may need PDF, HTML, or images, or even to input your reports into other tools your business uses.
  • Ease-of-use - How easy is it for teams to create the reports they need? Can non-technical users use them?
  • Integrations - How easy is it to get data into the tool? How does it connect with your other systems?
  • Security & compliance - Does the tool comply with regulations that affect your use of data? How secure is your data?

To make your choice easier, we’ve selected the seven best reporting tools that we believe businesses should be using in 2021:

  1. Tableau
  2. AnswerRocket
  3. Zoho Analytics
  4. Whatagraph
  5. Windward Hub
  6. SAP Crystal Reports
  7. Yellowfin

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Before you get started, you may also want to have your data prepared and aggregated in a data warehouse (check out our 17 Best Data Warehousing Tools and Resources article if you need information about that). If that is something you need, Xplenty can help you extract, transform, and load your data ready for reporting. 

1. Tableau

Tableau is one of the most popular data visualization and business intelligence tools on the market. It provides a wide range of reporting features that enable teams to quickly get actionable insights from their data.

Features:

  • The easy-to-use interface enables non-technical users to quickly create reports with just a few clicks.
  • Tableau connects to hundreds of different data sources, including databases, spreadsheets, and cloud apps.
  • Users can quickly build reports using a wide range of charts and dive deeper with regressions, correlations, and trend analysis.
  • Responsive dashboards display data well on a wide range of devices and screen sizes, including mobile devices.
  • Update reports using live data, or define an automated schedule.

What the users say:

Users highly recommend Tableau as a data visualization tool for its strong features and visually appealing charts. However, some users mention that its data analytics tools don’t quite keep up with its visualization tools, and some users report experiencing slowdowns when working with large datasets.

Pricing: $12-$70 per user

User Reviews: Average 4.5 out of 5.0 on Capterra

Trial: 14-day trial

Documentation: Getting Started Guide

2. AnswerRocket

AnswerRocket is a business intelligence and reporting tool that uses natural language processing (like a search engine) to enable users to type in a question in plain English and instantly receive a report. Still relatively new to the market, AnswerRocket is quickly gaining a reputation for good reports and ease of use for non-technical users. 

Features:

  • Forget complex queries - users can type or speak questions in their own words and quickly receive an answer.
  • Drill down for more information with AnswerRocket’s interactive reports.
  • AnswerRocket’s AI picks out analyses from reports that employees might miss.
  • Insights include correlations, outliers, forecasts, trends, and more.

What the users say:

AnswerRocket is popular with users, most of whom love the ability to ask questions in plain English, which reduces the learning curve and the need for training, making reporting easy for non-technical users.

AnswerRocket is also popular for its excellent support, although some users comment that it is not uncommon for the occasional bug to crop up after a large update.

Pricing: Contact AnswerRocket for pricing information

User Reviews: Average 4.6/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: Request a Demo

3. Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics (formerly Zoho Reports) is a popular reporting, analytics, and business intelligence software that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing technologies. Boasting many enterprise customers, including HP, Philips, and Hyundai, Zoho Analytics can turn large volumes of raw data into useful, visually pleasing reports.

Features:

  • Zoho Analytics enables businesses to blend data from different sources to create advanced dashboards.
  • The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for non-technical users to create reports.
  • Type out questions and receive answers from Zia, Zoho Analytic’s AI assistant.
  • Secure online collaboration tools help businesses share reports quicker.
  • Zoho Analytics integrates out-of-the-box with a wide range of databases, CRMs, analytics tools, and helpdesk tools, with a total of more than 100+ connectors.

What the users say:

Customers are overall satisfied with Zoho Analytics, citing its competitive pricing relative to its powerful feature set and the ease with which new users can understand and start using it as a, particularly popular aspect. Feedback on customer support is positive, although many users mention that Zoho could improve its documentation. 

Pricing: $25 per month (2 users) to $495 per month (50 users)

User Reviews: Average 4.3/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: 15-day free trial

Documentation: Zoho Analytics Help Center

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4. Whatagraph

Whatagraph is a reporting platform designed primarily for digital marketing agencies, enabling them to create detailed visual reports on a wide range of marketing activities, including PPC, SEO, email marketing, and social media. These features enable agencies to quickly create stylish, high-quality reports to show clients the value of their work.

Features:

  • Scheduled marketing reports automatically update clients with key metrics every day, week, quarter, or year.
  • Users can combine data from multiple sources into one simple, easy-to-read brandable report that they can share with clients and team members.
  • Add data using the Whatagraph API or upload using CSV/Excel file import, plus add images where needed.

What the users say:

Customers love the great-looking reports and the ease with which they can create them. Because of its specialized nature, it has a greater limitation on sources than other solutions; users should check that Whatagraph supports their favorite tools before using it as a reporting platform.

Pricing: Contact for pricing information

User Reviews: Average 4.5/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: 7-day free trial

Documentation: Whatagraph Help Center

5. Windward Hub by Windward Studios

Windward Hub is an enterprise-grade reporting tool that enables users to create detailed reports from within the Microsoft Office Suite, including MS Word and MS PowerPoint, before sharing them with other users.

Features:

  • Turnkey solution - Windward Hub enables businesses to create, manage, and share all of their reports quickly and easily.
  • Windward Hub supports native integration with Salesforce, with support for Jira, MS Dynamics, NetSuite, and SharePoint coming soon.
  • It integrates easily with more than 150 other apps.
  • SaaS, but also available as dedicated hosting (Windward Core)

What the users say:

Windward Studios comes highly recommended by users. Highlights include the integration with Microsoft Word and the speed and power of its reporting tools. However, although Windward Studios markets Windward Hub as a low/no code solution, many users report a learning curve to take advantage of its most powerful features.

Pricing: $20 to $50 per user for SaaS solution (Hub)

User Reviews: Average 4.8/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: 14-day free trial

Documentation: Windward Documentation

6. SAP Crystal Reports

SAP Crystal Reports is a robust reporting solution that enables users to create detailed dynamic business reports. This Windows-based, on-premises tool, has many powerful features and can output reports in 28 languages and across more than a dozen different formats.

Features:

  • Combine data from a wide variety of data sources to create print-ready reports.
  • Add a wide range of charts, including bar, line, funnel, histogram, radar, and bubble.
  • Secure data with single sign-on, user access controls, and secure mobile access features. Use auditing features to track the use and modification of your reports.
  • Crystal Reports connects to almost any data source, including a wide range of databases (including SAP HANA, MS SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL).

What the users say:

Users choose SAP Crystal Reports for its sophisticated functionality, advanced reporting tools, and ability to create professional reports. In the right hands, this software is very powerful; however, as a more traditional reporting tool, Crystal Reports has a steeper learning curve and maybe less suitable for non-technical users.

Pricing: One-time $495 payment

User Reviews: Average 4.3/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: 30-day free trial

Documentation: SAP Crystal Reports 2016 User Guide

7. Yellowfin

Yellowfin is a modern business intelligence platform that combines analytics, dashboards, and reporting. Businesses can create complex operational and management reports with a wide range of visualizations that enable stakeholders to better engage and understand data.

Features:

  • Simplify complex data stories with Yellowfin’s data storytelling tools. Yellowfin Stories allows users to embed charts and reports, add images and videos, and then publish them securely.
  • Embedded data in reports are dynamic, enabling users to drill down further if they need to.
  • Easily build management presentations using Yellowfin Present.
  • Easy to use for non-technical users. Drag and drop to bring your data to life.
  • Build powerful dashboards to help monitor changes to your data and enable better decision-making.

What the users say:

Yellowfin is popular for its wide variety of data visualization options, storytelling features, and easy-to-understand interface. It integrates easily, including with big data processing tools, and users consider it to be more cost-effective for multiple users than other competing tools with similar functionality.

Pricing: Contact for pricing

User Reviews: Average 4.6/5.0 on Capterra

Trial: Request free demo

Documentation: Yellowfin Wiki

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Reporting tools are useless without data to use - and that's where Xplenty comes in. Xplenty is an advanced data integration platform that enables businesses to quickly create data pipelines to their data warehouse from a wide range of databases and applications. 

Benefits include:

  • Complete Toolkit - Xplenty meets the needs of a wide range of data integration use cases, including the most complex tasks.
  • Huge Range of Integrations - Integrate data from more than 100 applications and data stores.
  • Fully Scalable - Cost-effective scaling enables your business to use as much or as little resources as it needs to meet its data needs.
  • Code-Free - Xplenty empowers non-developers to build rich data pipelines.

Xplenty takes care of data processing so that team members are able to spend more time using the data. Schedule a demo to find out more about Xplenty and how it can help improve your reporting and business intelligence.