Whether you own a small firm or a large enterprise, data-driven competencies and advanced analytics & reporting capabilities are indispensable for your business to stay ahead of the competition. Reporting software with built-in data visualization tools blend into an organization’s applications and help you make informed decisions based on useful reports and predictive analytics.
- What is reporting software?
- Best reporting software, separated by category
- Helpful features of reporting software
- Choosing the best small business reporting software
What is Reporting Software?
Reporting software is a set of tools that help businesses gather data from multiple sources, consolidate information, and generate useful insights and analytics in the form of business intelligence (BI) reports and data visualizations, such as graphs and charts. These reports provide organizations real-time visibility of data, monitor their key performance indicators (KPIs), identify trends and patterns to formulate future growth strategies, and help in the decision-making process.
Different organizations use different types of reporting tools, which are usually integrated into a central BI suite to combine different reports to generate useful insights. The major types of reporting tools you may find are market automation and analytics software, sales dashboard, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), information technology (IT) software and dashboards, financial accounting software, time tracking tools, and BI software.
The benefits of using a reporting software include:
- Better data management and monitoring
- Centralized data for better understanding of business processes
- Simplified access to various reports
- Easy customization of reports and sharing of data
- Better forecasting and decision-making with one-click reports
- Save time and resources
- Security and automation
Best Reporting Software for Small Business
With tons of reporting software available to cater to different businesses, we’ve covered a few in the following categories:
- Financial reporting
- Sales dashboard
- IT reporting and dashboards
Also read: Best CRM Software for Small Business
Marketing Reporting Software
With several automation and analytics capabilities, a marketing reporting software consists of tools that enable organizations to manage, monitor, and evaluate their marketing performance; optimize strategic marketing activities; streamline workflows; improve return on investment (ROI), and maximize their conversions and sales. Let’s talk about the following marketing reporting software today:
HubSpot Marketing Hub: Best Reporting Software for Marketing Automation
HubSpot Marketing Hub is a powerful stand-alone hub of marketing tools that falls under the roof of HubSpot CRM, an integrated platform that combines all tools and integration of marketing, content management, sales, and customer service. The marketing software lets you run a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign with a wide range of features including lead generation, marketing automation, email marketing, traffic and conversion analytics, blogging, landing pages, social media, and custom reporting. The best thing about HubSpot Marketing Hub is its ability to integrate with basic CRM and sales tools at no extra cost.
With limited features in the free version, HubSpot might get expensive for small businesses as they scale. Also, there’s a lack of reporting features and split testing or A/B testing on lower tiers. Some users complained about limited customization capabilities, metrics tracking, email templates, and social media integration.
HubSpot Marketing Hub comes in four pricing tiers:
- Free: $0 for beginners and solopreneurs
- Starter: $45/month includes simple follow-up emails, ad retargeting, and landing page reporting
- Pro: $800/month includes marketing automation, blogging, and custom reporting
- Enterprise: $3200/month includes adaptive testing, account-based marketing, and multi-touch revenue attribution
Marketo Engage: Best Reporting Software for Lead Management
Adobe’s Marketo Engage is a cloud-based automated marketing platform that helps businesses provide personalized customer experience by bringing together customer data, content, analytics and automation, and engaging marketing and sales teams under one roof.
One of the most significant features of this platform is the ability to track customers’ preferences and then show the content based on those preferences, thus boosting sales through deeper customer engagement. Another stand-out feature is its smart cloning campaign that can save a lot of time.
Unlike HubSpot which caters to all small-to-growing enterprises, Marketo Engage primarily targets the high-growth enterprise. Though a powerful email marketing and lead management tool, it has certain limitations, such as complicated UI, challenges for beginners, issues with filtering, limited templates for emails and landing pages, occasional glitches, and error codes. In addition, many users complained about the product being expensive for small businesses.
Based on database size, Marketo Engage pricing is provided by the software vendor, and it comes in four tiers with different features.
- Select: Basic marketing automation features for up to 25 users
- Prime: Support full lead and account-based marketing strategies with AI personalization and strong analytics
- Ultimate: Maximum potential of marketing automation and analytics
- Enterprise: Best for globally distributed teams
Financial Reporting Software
From basic single-entry bookkeeping solutions to complex double-entry functionalities, financial reporting softwares have become vital tools for organizations to manage day-to-day financial operations, such as invoicing, billing, payroll, and handling tax management and complex financial reports. Below is an overview of two financial reporting softwares and their features, pros, cons, and pricing.
QuickBooks: Best Financial Reporting Software for SMBs
Intuit’s QuickBooks is one of the leading accounting tools that cater to the financial needs of freelancers and small- to medium-sized businesses. It comes in two forms: a desktop version and a cloud-based SaaS version called QuickBooks Online or QBO.
QuickBooks integrates all financial data to provide customizable visual reports, including accounts receivables and payable reports, profit and loss statements, cash-flow statements, and more. It offers a user-friendly interface and easily integrates with other systems, including CRM, email marketing, time tracking tools, and e-commerce & payment tools.
Though QuickBooks offers a mobile app, many users complained about it being slow and faced on-the-go connectivity issues. Others faced issues such as system crashes, fewer customization options, limited inventory management, syncing problems and missed entries, transaction limitations, and lack of technical support.
- Simple Start: A single-user plan for new businesses
- Essentials: A plan to run your business for up to three users
- Plus: A plan to grow your business for up to five users
- Advanced: Most powerful plan with a lot of customization, reporting, and automation options for up to 25 users.
Also read: Xero vs QuickBooks Comparison
Xero: Best Financial Reporting Software for Accounting & Bookkeeping
Xero is an all-in-one accounting platform that provides small business owners with instant visibility of their financial position by collecting critical accounting data from multiple sources and presenting it in comprehensive reports and charts format. With simplified expense claim tools and invoicing management features, it allows you to get a quote, send an invoice, track your customers, and accept online payments in multiple currencies.
The standout features of Xero include an unlimited number of users as well as full reporting functionality on all pricing plans and automatic payment reminders to customers.
Some limitations do exist with Xero as users have to pay an extra fee for payroll integration such as Gusto. Also, some users suggested that Xero could improve in certain areas such as reporting, tracking, more integrations, inventory control, bank feeds stability, better reconciliation, and a mobile app. Many users faced an issue with the support as they offer only online support and no customer service over phone calls.
Xero comes in three pricing tiers, with 50% off for the first three months and additional add ons with additional charges such as Payroll with Gusto.
- Early Plan: For sole traders, self-employed, and new businesses
- Growing Plan: For growing small businesses
- Established Plan: For established businesses
Sales Dashboard Software
A sales dashboard is a graphical representation of data that allows executives and sales managers to monitor and control their sales KPIs, analyze sales funnels, identify issues, track team’s performance, and set future sales growth targets. It’s crucial that the sales team has a 360-degree view of all sales data at their fingertips all the time. Some of the common examples of sales dashboards include sales performance board, conversion board, cycle length board, leaderboard, product performance board, and sales team activities board.
Salesforce Sales Cloud: Best CRM Reporting Software
Salesforce is one of the leading CRM platforms that helps businesses of all sizes accelerate sales, forecast revenues, automate workflows, boost productivity, and enhance customer engagement. In addition to a ton of features and integrations, most business users love it for its user-friendly and intuitive interface, high customizability, and robust reporting functions. With its powerful AI companion, Sales Cloud Einstein, it helps the sales team make smart moves by suggesting what actions to take or what deals to close first based on past data.
On the downside, Salesforce is quite expensive for small businesses with a steep learning curve and difficulty in the initial implementation. Some users complained they often get lost in tons of features and have difficulty in finding what they require. The software can be laggy at times, face connectivity issues, and cause syncing problems.
Sales Cloud offers four pricing editions:
- Essentials: $25/user/month is a small business CRM for up to 10 users
- Professional: $75/user/month is a complete CRM for any size team that helps manage the entire sales cycle
- Enterprise: $150/user/month is a deeply customizable CRM with better customization and automation
- Unlimited: $300/user/month offers unlimited CRM power, training, and support, with access to multiple sandboxes
Zendesk Sell: Best Reporting Software for Small B2B Sales Teams
Formerly known as Base CRM, Zendesk Sell is a sales automation and analytics platform that provides sales professionals with actionable insights to generate more leads, enhance productivity, engage with customers, and accelerate revenue growth. With a robust sales reporting feature, the sales team can monitor sales quotas and track sales funnels, all via their mobile phones.
With its quick implementation, clean layout, and ease of use, sales reps can get the system up and running in no time. It improves their efficiency and saves a lot of time by eliminating manual data entry and admin work.
Some users found it not very well integrated and lacking in some advanced features and reporting capabilities. Others faced issues with mobile app notifications, call features, customization, and email threads. Also, customer support could be a little more attentive to customer queries.
In addition to a free trial, Zendesk Sell comes in four pricing tiers, billed annually.
- Team: $19/user/month includes basic sales tracking for up to 3 users
- Professional: $49/user/month is a plan for growing business that includes unlimited paid users and email templates
- Enterprise: $99/user/month is a plan for established teams that includes advanced analytics & automation
- Elite: $199/user/month includes deep customization with unlimited API access and support
IT Dashboard & Reporting
An IT dashboard or CIO dashboard is an essential tool for IT professionals to have an overview of IT infrastructure and allows them to identify any issues and keep track of KPIs. IT reporting software saves time, streamlines workflows, sends automatic alerts, and provides a real-time view of key indicators.
Some of the key elements and metrics included in an IT dashboard are requests per second, system uptime & downtime, security updates & response time, ongoing & upcoming projects, and deadlines.
Sisense: Best Reporting Software for Data Visualization
Sisense is one of the leading and most comprehensive business intelligence (BI) platforms that provides real-time analytics and visual representation of mashup data from all available resources. The most useful dashboards include the user engagement dashboard and cybersecurity analytics dashboard. It allows system administrators to customize dashboards and create personalized access for different users.
The top features of Sisense include high-quality visuals, accurate real-time data analysis, a drag-and-drop interface, high-speed data sync, data unification, and data mashups.
Sisense offers a free trial for your IT department and a subscription-based pricing plan. You can request a quote by contacting the software vendor.
Datapine: Best Reporting Software for Data Scientists
Datapine helps data-driven companies and c-level executives gain visibility into business operations with strong analytics and a self-service platform. With an intuitive interface and easy-to-understand graphics, users of all skill levels can make sense of even the most complex data. IT dashboards include an IT project management dashboard, IT issue management dashboard, IT cost dashboard, and CTO dashboard. They help IT staff manage daily activities, track expenses, resolve queries and tickets, fix bugs, maintain security, and automate processes.
As it’s mainly targeted at data scientists, some of the advanced features might get too technical for non-technical users, particularly SQL mode. Such users suggested that Datapine should offer more tutorials and a knowledge base for using complex features.
Though Datapine offers a free trial, the pricing information is not available. Contact the service provider to get a plan tailored to your business needs.
All-in-one Business Intelligence Software
Business Intelligence (BI) software is a comprehensive set of tools that collect unstructured data from various internal and external resources and transform it into insightful and visually compelling reports to help businesses make informed decisions.
Below are two all-in-one BI tools that combine the capabilities of marketing, sales, finance, and IT reporting softwares under one roof to provide a comprehensive overview to business owners.
Tableau: Best Self-service BI Platform
Being a Gartner-recognized leader for nine years, Tableau is an integrated analytics platform that helps businesses explore and visualize data without technical headaches. The solution can be installed on-premises or hosted on the cloud as a SaaS.
With its interactive dashboards and drag and drop functionality, users of all skill levels can easily generate relevant reports and interpret statistical data. Formerly known as Einstein Analytics, Tableau CRM is natively built into the Salesforce platform and provides AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities. Powerful data visualization and the ability to handle large data sets are the most significant features that make it a leading BI tool.
Tableau could be expensive for small businesses. It also has a steep learning curve, so users may require training to be able to use it to its full extent. Some users faced performance issues, slow updates, and a lack of support.
Tableau is available for individuals, teams, and enterprises in two deployments:
Tableau Server is billed annually and offers either on-premise or public cloud deployment.
- Tableau Creator: $70/user/month offers powerful insights with end-to-end support & analytics
- Tableau Explorer: $35/user/month allows you to explore data with full-service analytics
- Tableau Viewer: $12/user/month lets you view and interact with dashboards
Tableau Online is fully hosted by Tableau, and provides similar features as Tableau Server.
- Tableau Creator: $70/user/month
- Tableau Explorer: $42/user/month
- Tableau Viewer: $15/user/month
Domo: Best Cloud-based BI Software for Robust Datasets
With a wide range of robust datasets and connectors, strong visualization features, and unique social sharing capabilities, Domo Business Cloud offers viable support to businesses by transforming raw data into intuitive insights. With Domo’s low-code or full-code functions, companies can develop their own analytics packages that standardize and automate business practices. Domo also provides best-in-class security features with two-factor authentication, SSO integration, BYOK encryption, and personalized data permissions.
On the downside, Domo can be complicated in some areas, and the initial implementation may take some time and require tutorials and support. Also, reporting, customization, formatting, and filtering features need improvement, according to some users.
Domo software vendor hasn’t provided any upfront subscription plans. You can try it for free or contact Domo’s sales team to get a personalized quote.
Helpful Features of Reporting Software
Businesses can easily deploy reporting software with no prior training and can reap the benefits of various features such as detailed reports, data visualization, sharing capabilities, predictive and embedded analytics, and AI functionalities.
A reporting tool should align with your business goals and have the following features:
- Data Visualization & Dashboards—Rich dashboards that can display even complex data in form of charts, scatter plots, line graphs, heat maps, flowcharts, and more
- Reporting Capabilities—Ability to generate insightful BI reports by combining data from various sources and presenting it in an easily understandable and customizable format
- Embedded Analytics—Integration of analytics capabilities within the applications so users don’t have to leave their workflows
- Predictive Analytics—Gives businesses the ability to monitor KPIs and forecast future growth using various AI and machine learning features
- Automated Alerts—Send timely notifications to users when a value crosses a certain threshold or if the business has potential new leads
- Integrated User Security—With centralized management capabilities, many reporting software allows you to use SSO, encryption, and two-factor or multi-factor authentication
- AI Function—With AI-assistants, machine learning, and natural language processing, several BI tools reduce the workload of users and save time through pattern recognition, identifying trends, and effectively monitoring data
Choosing the Best Small Business Reporting Software
With a plethora of different reporting tools available in the marketplace, businesses find it challenging to find the right software for their reporting and analytics needs. While assessing your needs, you must ask yourself these questions: What is your business type and size? Which tools and features are you going to need the most? Who will be using the software in your organization? and How much flexibility, scalability, and customization capabilities do you need now and in the future?
Your team can try the free trials offered by various software vendors before making the final purchase decision.