If you’re at the very early stages of your KPI reporting tool review, here is a head start with some information about the Dashboarding and KPI reporting offerings from Microsoft.
Power BI is the latest tool from Microsoft for dashboarding. It's a cloud-based tool for analysis with connectors to a variety of different databases such as Salesforce, Dynamics ERP's, etc. It has a natural language query tool. It's the pick of the bunch really, but it has a few drawbacks: it's really only a dashboarding tool. It stops there - and, for example - you can't build an income statement with it. It is also read-only, so there is no budgeting and forecasting capability - which is vital for running a department or business.
The best looking option is Business Analyzer, and it’s free! It runs on Windows 7 and 8 as a desktop tablet app. It works fine with a mouse or finger depending on your preference. It will only connect to the Microsoft Dynamics suite: GP, NAV, SL, AX, and CRM. Any data you have in AIM needs to be somehow loaded into GP for reporting. You also need this connector for GP, which will interrupt the use of GP.
Reports are built in GP using Management Reporter, and it will only display reports with charts. It’s not the best reporting tool and organizations are gently moving to 3rd party reporting tools that a far superior and costs less to run. Business Analyzer is very basic and has limited features. It looks great if you can pump your data into GP (for example) and wrangle the GP reporting toolset.
Power View is much more sophisticated and more expensive. You must have the paid version of SharePoint to run this and SharePoint itself is expensive. If you already own SharePoint, this might be a good option. You collect data in Excel which requires some skill, but nothing an accountant, or someone who can run Excel can’t do. Reports are also built in Excel. To share them and secure them, you upload them into SharePoint. This has no ability to connect to GP or another system.
SQL Server Reporting Services is next. Your costs are lower than Power BI because it comes with Microsoft SQL Server and you own that if you have GP. Report-writing and dashboard creation will be where the cost lies because it is slow and time-consuming to do this. This is also because you need to create a data warehouse and the reports are programmed. SSRS doesn’t get used widely for KPI reporting unless you already have a data warehouse and a team who can build reports.
We can't forget the most used tool for dashboards - Excel! Microsoft's spreadsheet tool can do it all, nearly. Excel gets clumsy when you're dealing with large data sets, many departments/cost centers, years, months, entities, etc. but it can build nice dashboards for smaller applications.
Lastly, there is CALUMO. CALUMO offers low-cost yet high functionality KPI reporting that has all the good and none of the bad from the options above. It’s exquisite looking, web-based, fast in both operation and report creation, secure, can collect data from anywhere, and user-friendly.
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