How to choose the best web-based reporting tool for your firm
It’s no secret: we live in the era of big data. It’s a time dominated by datasets, dashboards, statistics and sophisticated algorithms. Analytics nowadays are the true driver of performance.
The ability to perform complex analysis of large amounts of data to extract actionable insights has become the most critical ability modern organizations must have.
However, trustworthy analytics largely depend on accurate reporting. Manually filling Excel spreadsheets is not sufficient anymore.
Companies who want to stay relevant in the next decade must embrace web reporting and invest in the right reporting system. However, there is a wide range of tools to choose from, so how do you know which one is the best for you? Let’s figure out together.
Web Reporting vs Traditional Manual Approaches
Many organizations still create company reports manually, though this approach is costly and outdated. Traditional reporting requires the involvement of several employees, who end up spending a lot of time and energy to create and constantly update reports.
Online web reporting platforms, on the contrary, offer a much more efficient approach to reporting by automating large parts of the process. Through automation, this approach allows for new and more complex uses of a firm’s data.
Web reporting platforms automatically pull data and produce reports that are essential for the creation and implementation of a comprehensive business intelligence strategy.
Further, because these platforms store data and reports ‘in the cloud’, users have access to a vast repository of data anywhere and anytime they want and, as such, are able to use corporate data much more efficiently and effectively.
Last, taking a cloud-based approach to reporting is key to implementing real-time decision making. In some industries, this translates into finally being able to decide on issues that were previously challenging to act on. So far, real-time data is already being used to improve customer service, enhance inventory management and quickly detect anomalies and frauds.
Benefits of web reporting
Whether you need reports for your asset management strategy, for administration purposes or simply to keep track of your website analytics, online reporting tools offer many advantages.
1. No software installation required
Web-based reporting tools are hosted in the cloud, which offers several advantages:
- they don’t require any hardware or software installation, only an internet connection;
- software vendors take care of all backups, updates, patches, and upgrades. As updates occur online, you don’t need to go through each user’s device to install the latest version of your tool. Your IT department will definitely appreciate having more time to focus on more critical issues.
Web-based reporting tools are cheaper than traditional approaches because:
- they allow you to subscribe to a monthly plan as the companies selling them usually implement SaaS pricing strategies;
- they allow companies to cut costs as they require less resources (paper, stamps, printers…), time and employees to accomplish the same work;
- the market offers many free tools, some of which are open source. If your employees already have good reporting skills, you should absolutely consider these options, as some are pretty good.
Web reporting makes it much easier to create and modify reports. It allows employees to make copies of each report so they can modify it based on their needs without harming the job of other departments or colleagues. It also makes it easier to share information, especially from remote workplaces.
Web-based reporting allows companies to collect, analyze and use data in real-time. It’s like live streaming your data. Further, as real-time data gives an accurate overview of your daily operations, these tools help identify issues before they occur and empower firms to intervene proactively.
5. Flexibility and scalability
Web reporting allows companies to customize records according to their own preferences. Further, since users only need internet access to use these tools, companies can easily implement scaling strategies and adapt their tool to their current needs.
Cloud-based reporting tools are cheaper, easier to use and more flexible than traditional approaches. This doesn’t mean they are less secure. Only authorized users can access the cloud by using their assigned credentials.
7. Improved decision-making and Increased Productivity
Web reporting ensures information is consistent, accurate and up-to-date, thus improving a company’s analytical capabilities. It also simplifies the creation, alteration, sharing and comprehension of corporate reports, which in turn fosters internal collaboration. Summing up, constantly having access to corporate reports drives productivity and boosts decision-making processes
How to choose the right web reporting tool
When looking for the right reporting tool, companies have loads of options. You may have heard of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) from Microsoft, SAS Web Report Studio or IBM BigFix. Capterra lists the reviews of 183 reporting softwares, 143 of which are web-based. So how do you identify the best web reporting tool for your company?
Step 1 - Think about your needs
Do you need some specific type of reports? Like for marketing, or sales, or finance? Or are just looking for a way to track your web traffic and website metrics? Having a clear perception of what you need and what you don’t is paramount in your decision-making process. Since you are reading this, you probably already have an idea.
Step 2 - Focus on ease of use
Online reporting allows for more complex uses of data, allowing companies to achieve better results and identify more opportunities for improvement. However, complexity can be a barrier as well.
Make sure users can easily navigate through the platform, access the reports and get the insights they are looking for. Employees be able to adapt to the new reporting tools smoothly and quickly even without a specific training.
Step 3 - Think of mobile use
The performance of your reporting tool on mobile is critical if you want to make the most out of your data. Employees must be able to access the reports they need anywhere they want, when they want, especially when travelling. Mobile web reporting fosters communication and collaboration, so make sure to choose a tool that is optimized for mobile usage as well.
Web reporting tools offer many advantages. By offering a simpler, faster, cheaper, flexible, scalable and secure approach to business reporting, these tools can have a very big impact on the way a company stores and uses information, ensuring consistency and boosting decision-making and productivity.
When choosing the best web reporting tool for your company, make sure you focus on your employees’ needs and your corporate goals and find a balance between complexity and usability that ensures you maximize the value of your data.