5 Best Automated Reporting Tools: How to Choose?

Financial Automation
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The ability to understand data in a digestible format offers a competitive advantage for every business. Automated reporting tools make this possible.

When searching for the best reporting software, it’s easy to conflate business intelligence tools and data reporting tools. In an effort to make it clear as to what to look for, we’re going to break down the different types of analytics and reporting tools.

We’ll also share five of our favourite reporting tools that are worthwhile to consider.

Coming Up

1. What are Automated Reporting Tools?

2. What are the Types of Automated Reporting Tools?

3. What is Reporting vs Business Intelligence Tools?

4. What are the Benefits of Automated Reporting Tools?

5. What are Report Automation Best Practices?

6. What are Examples of Automated Reports?

7. How to Choose an Automated Reporting Tool?

8. What are the Best Automated Reporting Tools?

9. Closing Thoughts

What are Automated Reporting Tools?

Automated reporting tools are a type of software that organises and structures your data such that you can analyse it. It pulls data from disparate and varied sources and arranges it in easily understandable charts, tables, and visualisations.

The best automated reporting tools will offer customisable dashboards and a way for each respective party to gain what they need quickly. For automated reporting tools to be able to work properly, they must be able to have access to clean and accurate data for the information and insights to be usable and of value.

What are the Types of Automated Reporting Tools?

Automated reporting tools can be broken down into different categories based on their offerings.

Here’s a look at the types:

1. Self-service:

Tools that let you build your own reports based on the information you have available internally.

2. Visualisation:

These tools represent data and information using graphs, charts, and maps. Their main goal is to visually express data in a digestible manner.

3. Business Intelligence:

Business intelligence tools are geared around providing insights that are actionable. They often include interactive elements.

4. Application Performance:

These types of reporting tools display data regarding an application’s performance to help quantify the ROI of an application.

5. Enterprise:

Enterprise reporting tools are aimed at ensuring high levels of security and customisation. They can be used to create dashboards and tables to display company information.

6. Finance Related:

Financial reporting software is centred around financial analysis and documents, such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.

7. Code-Based Tools:

Automated reporting tools may be code-based, which grant the user total control over the reporting system and offer the ability to customise everything. The caveat is that you need to be tech-savvy and know how to code, which typically requires a skilled IT team.

8. Low Code / No Code:

Low code or no-code solutions, like SolveXia, are quick to implement, deploy, and use. They operate with drag-and-drop functionality and are an out-of-the-box solution that can be used by anyone, no matter how tech savvy they may or may not be. They can also integrate with existing systems using APIs.

9. Dashboard Tools:

Dashboard tools are linked to business intelligence tools and intend to bring data to life. They offer visual KPIs and real-time insights.

What is Reporting vs Business Intelligence Tools?

We briefly mentioned that it’s easy to consider business intelligence tools and automated reporting tools as the same thing. However, it’s helpful to understand their main differences.

Automated reporting tools are typically limited in scope to be used to compile reports and structure information. The goal is to be able to quickly identify insights.

On the other hand, business intelligence tools are more robust by nature and can handle multiple tasks. They analyse and visualise information and have the power to pull information from multiple business systems to transform data into insights.

What are the Benefits of Automated Reporting Tools?

If automated reporting tools have limitations, then you’re probably wondering if they are worth investing in at all. They most certainly are. There’s also software solutions that provide automated reporting along with other functions (i.e. SolveXia, but more on that later).

Automated reporting tools make it easy to:

  • Glean insights from raw data quickly
  • Expedite the reporting process
  • Create customised reports based on specified parameters
  • Access and visualise reports

All of these benefits come together to make decision-making stronger. By using data, your team can rest assured knowing that each decision is an informed decision, rather than a guess. In business settings, having insights for decision-making processes can end up saving time and money, protecting your reputation, adhering to compliance and regulations, and reducing mistakes.

What are Report Automation Best Practices?

When starting out with report automation or looking to make the most out of the software you are already using, it’s great to follow a set of guidelines and recommendations.

Consider these best practices:

1. Set a Purpose

Start by determining what you are seeking to gain from a report. Think about what your overall goal is: are you looking to improve customer satisfaction? Do you want to enhance efficiency? Asking these questions is what will let you know the type of automated reporting you need.

2. Consider KPIs

Think about what kind of key performance indicators are going to answer your questions or help you to achieve your goals. When automating reports, you’ll get to customise dashboards and visuals, so you can incorporate all the KPIs you want to measure.

3. Discuss Frequency

Figure out how often you will need to automate reporting. For example, operational reporting is typically executed daily or weekly because it deals with the daily operations. On the other hand, strategic reports may require a bit more time to draw conclusions.

4. Utilise Advanced Technology

Most automated reporting tools include advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Take advantage of these technologies to streamline your reporting needs.

5. Align Automated Reporting Tools

Choose tools that make sense for your business needs. Think about the long-term goals, too because you may need just an automated reporting tool now but a business intelligence tool with additional capabilities may be better for your business as you scale.

What are Examples of Automated Reports?

Automated reports help businesses across industry verticals to streamline decision-making and achieve operational effectiveness.

For financial management and strategy, businesses leverage automated reporting to procure financial dashboards with a range of KPIs. For example, you can get a real-time and quick look at working capital, budget variance, and cash conversion cycles. With access to real-time data in a visualised format, you’ll be able to detect any issues early on.

In an increasingly customer-centric business environment, customer satisfaction is always at the top of mind. Customer support teams can leverage automated reporting software to keep track of customer service KPIs, such as issue numbers and response times.

How to Choose an Automated Reporting Tool?

The value of automated reporting tools is undeniable. When searching for the tool that’s best for your business, here’s a list of things worth considering:

  1. User Interface: Are the reports visually appealing and easy to understand?
  1. Usability: Is there a steep learning curve or is the software intuitive?
  1. Customisation: Can you customise reports according to need and viewer?
  1. Scalability: Will the software be able to scale with your business needs and increased frequency of reporting?
  1. Sourcing: How does the software connect to existing systems and is it able to pull data from various sources?
  1. Searching: Are you able to search in technical and non-technical language to find what you need?
  1. Value: Compare the cost to the value that the software will deliver for your business.

What are the Best Automated Reporting Tools?

Keeping this list of considerations in mind, let’s take a look at five highly-touted automated reporting tools that are popular amongst various business types.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free and widely popular reporting tool. Users can integrate a Google Analytics Tracking Code into their website so that the reporting tool can collect data on users’ HTTP requests, operating systems, cookies, and browsers.

Within 24 to 48 hours, Google Analytics populates reports to help businesses track specific KPIs. For example, Google Analytics can tell you how many page views your website got, demographic data of users, bounce rates, and more. Google Analytics is capped at 10 million hits per month for the free version.

2. Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is another type of free reporting software that enables users to be able to build and configure interactive dashboards. It provides a gallery of templates to build reports. As useful as the tool is, there is no support offered officially, so you’ll have to figure it out on your own or from online forums.

3. SolveXia

SolveXia is a human analytical financial automation software tool that provides multiple functions, including automated reporting. SolveXia removes the need for tedious and manual labour by preparing data and creating reports specifically for finance teams and business leaders.

The software is able to automate processes like reconciliations, expense analysis, rebate management, and regulatory reporting, to name a few. With SolveXia, businesses can eliminate data silos, enhance process visibility, and provide for informed decision-making with a low-code/no-code solution.

4. Power BI

Microsoft’s Power BI is a business intelligence and analytics tool that automates reporting, too. It is aimed at visualising marketing data and can also be used as a project management reporting software. Microsoft Power BI integrates with free connectors and cloud data sources.

5. Tableau

Tableau leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer marketing data analysis. Its analytics platform can be used for business forecasts and data-driven strategising. Like SolveXia and Power BI, Tableau can integrate with multiple data sources.

Closing Thoughts

Automated reporting tools transform raw data into valuable insights and information. Across industries, organisations rely on these powerful tools to make decisions, streamline processes, and maximise efficiency.

When choosing the best automated reporting tool for your needs, remember to consider your overall goals, the scope of reporting you want, and the overall user experience of the software itself.

An automated reporting tool like SolveXia offers a robust software solution that is not only able to automate reporting, but can also automate many of your financial processes. Ready to see how it works? Request a demo!

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