Tools for Business Intelligence (BI) Reporting
Business intelligence (BI) reports allow people in any role within a company to make better business decisions by offering meaningful and up-to-date views of critical information. BI reporting software allows you to automate procedures unique to your business environment to give you control of financial reporting, consolidations, budgeting, and analysis. Microsoft, SAP, and other vendors offer a broad selection of general-purpose and product-specific software tools for generating reports. For example, Progent's Dynamics GP/Great Plains reporting consultants offer expertise for Report Writer, Dynamics GP Analysis Cubes for Excel, Dynamics GP Analytical Accounting, Management Reporter/FRx, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) for Microsoft Dynamics GP, SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), SmartList, SmartList Designer, SmartList Builder, Refreshable Excel Reports, Power BI, Modifier with VBA, Microsoft Enterprise Reporting, Word Templates, Dynamics Reports Manager, and Crystal Reports Professional.
Progent's BI reporting experts are familiar with the most widely used reporting software and can help you maintain, enhance, and troubleshoot your current reporting environment, show you how to create and distribute new reports that automatically incorporate information from multiple sources, assist you to migrate reports from a legacy reporting platform to a current one, and provide custom online training tailored to your specific requirements.
Progent can provide expert consulting, custom software development, and training for popular BI reporting solutions including:
Microsoft's BI Stack: SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS Consulting
The SQL Server business intelligence (BI) stack includes components built into SQL Server that enable activities such as data mining, online analytical processing (OLAP), querying and reporting by making it easy to build, create, manage and distribute reports and provide access to rich data visualizations based on existing enterprise data, external data, and unstructured big data. The core components of the SQL Server BI stack are SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).
SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) includes a library of tools that simplify and automate the crucial ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process that integrates data from diverse data warehouses or data marts and presents the data within a structure from which it can be analyzed efficiently. Sources from which SSIS can extract and transform data include XML data files, flat files, and relational databases. The latest versions of SSIS support Microsoft Azure cloud Blob Storage, Excel 2016 data sources, OData v3 and v4 protocols, and SAP BW.
SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) provides a set of tools for building, deploying and managing an OLAP or tabular data model and populating the database with data/metadata from data warehouses typically hosted by SQL Server or Oracle. The completed semantic data model can be accessed by any client application supporting Analysis Services as a data source, such as Microso0ft's Power BI suite. You can use SQL Server Data Tools to create a model based on a Tabular or Multidimensional and Data Mining project template. Wizards help you create the basic elements including data sources, views, dimensions, cubes and roles. You can deploy the server to run SSAS databases in one of three modes: as a Multidimensional and Data Mining instance running OLAP cubes and data mining models, as a Tabular instance running Tabular models, or as Power Pivot for SharePoint running Power Pivot and Excel data models in SharePoint.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), introduced by Microsoft in 2004, has become Microsoft's flagship product for management reporting and analytics. SSRS is included with SQL Server, which is the data platform behind many of Microsoft's most popular applications, and provides a comprehensive set of tools and services that allow you to build, manage, and publish sophisticated business intelligence reports. SSRS works with Microsoft Visual Studio using either the standard Report Builder tool or, for advanced users, the Business Intelligence Development Studio. With current versions of SSRS, users can be offered a variety of options to select and view reports including Report Manager, a SharePoint Web part or library, an embedded ReportViewer control, or any popular browser.
Microsoft Management Reporter/FRx Support Services
Microsoft FRx is a mature financial performance reporting application that was introduced decades ago as a DOS application and later integrated with Great Plains accounting software and other popular accounting platforms for small businesses. Microsoft licensed FRx with Microsoft Dynamics ERP products which include Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics SL. Microsoft has replaced FRx with Microsoft Management Reporter, but FRx meanwhile enjoys a substantial base of users familiar with its spreadsheet-like interface made up of the basic building blocks of row format, column layouts, and reporting trees. FRx lets you automate the generation and secure distribution of custom reports such as Balance Sheets, Income Statements, Statement of Cash Flows, budget versus actual reports, or any other financial report that includes information from the general ledger module of a supported Microsoft Dynamics application. FRx reports can include features such as multiple source roll-up for summary data plus a DrillDown Viewer for transaction details. Reports can be automatically printed, e-mailed, published to your web in XBRL formats, or exported to other formats including PivotTable views in Excel or OLAP cubes.
Management Reporter for Microsoft Dynamics ERP Expertise
Microsoft Management Reporter replaces FRx as the next generation reporting software for Microsoft Dynamics ERP products. Like FRx, Management Reporter is directly integrated with the general ledger of Microsoft Dynamics GP, AX, SL, and NAV, facilitating the creation, publication, and administration of financial statements such as P&L statements, balance sheets, and cash flow reports. Management Reporter uses many of the same concepts, if not the exact names, as FRx including specification sets, report definitions, rows, columns, trees, and drill down views. Key enhancements with Management Reporter include 64 bit operation for greater performance and capacity, replacement of Microsoft Access with SQL Server as the data platform for improved stability, integration with Excel and SharePoint for improved collaboration, a web viewer for browser-based viewing and commenting, Undo/Redo capability, centralized storage for the Report Library for viewing and grouping reports, and support for dimension-based data for simplified report design and easier maintenance. Microsoft offers conversion tools for migrating to Management Reporter from FRx.
Progent's Microsoft Dynamics experts can help you evaluate the advantages of Microsoft Management Reporter for your business and can assist you in planning, executing, and validating a migration to Management Reporter from an FRx reporting environment. Progent can help you create or troubleshoot reports, plan a report distribution and administration strategy, enhance the security and compliance of your Management Reporter solution, and provide online training for individuals or groups. Progent can also help you set up 64-bit servers and workstations to take full advantage of the power of Management Reporter.
Crystal Reports Consulting
Crystal Reports, published by SAP, has a large customer base due in part to the fact that it was bundled by Microsoft with older versions of Visual Studio. Crystal Reports is a standalone report writing tool able to convert data into interactive web pages and professional-looking reports in Microsoft Office applications. Crystal Reports allows developers to design reports that can utilize data from almost any source including relational databases, OLAP cubes, spreadsheets, log files, or applications. Support for .NET Winform and .NET Webform viewers enables on-the-fly sorting, filtering, and reformatting, which allows reports generated with Crystal Reports to function as powerful, interactive end-user applications. Crystal Reports can export data to a wide range of formats that include Microsoft Excel, CSV, Microsoft Word, PDF, XML with optional XSLT transform, html, ODBC, Lotus cc:Mail, Lotus Domino, and Lotus Notes. Crystal Reports can also be used with many environments for application integration such as Visual Studio, Microsoft .NET and Java API , Microsoft SharePoint Integration, IBM WebSphere and Oracle WebLogic Portals, and SAP BusinessObjects Live Office Software.
Combined with SAP's Crystal Dashboard Design (formerly Xcelsius Engage) software, Crystal Reports allows you to create the platform's distinctive "dashboards" that can include sliders and gauges for "what-if" scenarios and users to drill-down from summary information to detailed data points. Progent's Crystal Reports experts can help you plan and implement a secure and dependable network infrastructure for Crystal Reports that can include SQL Server, Crystal Reports Server, and Visual Studio; design automated report generation and distribution processes that support all desired data sources and output formats; establish and implement security policies that allow reports to be shared safely and conveniently; provide custom programming where required; troubleshoot all aspects of report generation and distribution; upgrade older reports to take advantage of new versions of Crystal Reports, new data sources, and new output formats; and provide comprehensive training to management, IT support personnel, and users.
Microsoft Office Access Consulting
Microsoft Access is a popular desktop relational database management system (RDBMS) and can be used to create custom reports quickly by acting as a front end to information stored in other databases such as SQL Server or Oracle or applications like Excel or Outlook. Progent's Microsoft Access developers can use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) with Access desktop to help you create new Access reports, enhance old ones, or connect your reports to new data sources. Progent can also troubleshoot existing management reports generated by Access, design more efficient ways to secure and distribute Access-based reports, or migrate your existing reporting environment to more powerful management reporting platforms. Progent can also provide online line training for using Access for rapid development of custom reports.
The Web App model available in current versions of Office Access uses SharePoint Access Services and SQL Server to facilitate rapid development of web databases. The SQL Server database behind the Access Web App can be used by popular BI reporting tools such as SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Excel, Power View, and Crystal Reports. Progent offers SQL Server 2014 Reporting Services consulting and SQL Server SSRS expertise to simplify report authoring, administration, and delivery.
Power BI Consulting
Power BI is a cloud-based, self-service BI application that allows users to create and share dashboards or reports that combine queries, data connections, and visualizations for analyzing data from multiple sources. Underlying technology and features of Power BI are found in Excel Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, and Power Map. The standard and desktop versions of Power BI and free and the Power BI Pro version is available by subscription. All versions are available as native apps for Android smart phones and tablets, Apple iPhones and iPads, iOS devices, and Windows 10 devices.
Each tile in a Power BI dashboard takes you to the underlying report
Power BI can import any combination of data from a local Excel spreadsheet, a remote database on your business network, or from the cloud, using services like QuickBooks Online. The Power BI Analysis Services Connector for Power BI Pro allows you to connect in real time to on-premises SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Tabular models, and the Power BI Personal Gateway allows you to refresh data from additional on-premises data sources. Content packs are also available for to import or access datasets from an expanding list of sources including Azure SQL Database, Salesforce.com, Marketo, Adobe Analytics, Azure Mobile Engagement, CircuitID, comScore Digital Analytix, Quickbooks Online, SQL Sentry, and tyGraph, among others.
Excel Data Analysis Tools: Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, Power Map
Microsoft offers a proven set of self-service, collaborative business intelligence tools that can be incorporated into Excel or SharePoint and that form the heart of Microsoft's Power BI product family.
Power Pivot is an Excel add-in that allows you to build more sophisticated data models, establish relationships, and create calculations. Extended capabilities offered by PowerPivot include the ability to write advanced formulas with Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), define Hierarchies to use everywhere in a workbook, create key performance indicators (KPIs) to use in PivotTables and Power View reports, create Perspectives to restrict the number of columns and tables visible to workbook consumers, and identify default fields, images/, and unique values.
Power Query for Excel simplifies the processes of gathering and transforming data by allowing you to discover, connect, combine, and refine data from multiple sources for better analysis in Excel. Power Query is included in Excel 2016, where it is called Get & Transform, and is available as a download for earlier versions of Excel. Power Query features are also used in Microsoft's Power BI. Power Query lets you aggregate data from multiple sources such as a local Excel or CSV file, the web, Exchange, a SharePoint List, Active Directory, and local or remote databases including SQL Server, Access, Oracle, IBM DB@, . With Power Query you can find and connect data across a broad range of sources; combine and transform data for analysis with Power Pivot, Power View and other modeling tools; create custom views over data; use the JSON parser to create data visualizations; perform data cleansing; search for data from online public data sources including Wikipedia tables, Microsoft Azure Marketplace, and Data.gov; pull data into Power Pivot from Facebook as a refreshable connection; share and manage queries; and search data within your organization.
Power View is an interactive data visualization and reporting tool available in Excel, SharePoint, SQL Server, and Power BI. Visualizations available in Power View include line and pie charts, bubble and scatter charts, maps, tiles, cards, images/, tables, Key performance indicators (KPIs), and sets of multiple charts. Reports created with Power View can be formatted for Excel (XLSX files) or SharePoint (RDLX files). Power View in Excel sheets can be displayed in a standard browser as part of Power BI for Office 365. Power View allows you to interact with data published in an Excel Power Pivot Gallery, in tabular models deployed to SQL Server Analysis Services instances, and, with Power View in SharePoint Server, in multidimensional models on an SSAS server. You can share interactive Power View reports on-premises or in the Microsoft Azure cloud with Power BI for Office 365 or with current versions of SharePoint. (Learn about Progent's Microsoft Azure planning and cloud integration consulting services.)
Power Map for Excel is a 3-D data visualization tool that allows you to plot geographic and time-stamped data on a globe or custom map, display the mapped data as it changes over time, and create interactive visual tours. Power Map lets you plot over a million rows of data from an Excel table or Data Model onto three dimensional Bing maps.
Report Designer Consulting
Report Designer is a set of query and design tools that provide an advanced authoring platform for creating rich SSRS reports that utilize multiple types of data sources. Report Designer is hosted within SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), a Visual Studio environment that features enhanced BI capabilities. Report Designer features a Report Data pane for organizing report data plus tabbed Design and Preview views for interactive report creation. Query designers allow you to define data to extract from various data sources and an Expression dialog tool lets you to specify the data to use in the report layout. You can open, edit, view, save, and deploy report definitions, shared data sources and datasets, and report components.
Report Builder Consulting
Report Builder is an SSRS report authoring tool designed to offer a self-service alternative to Report Designer by allowing users to work within a stand-alone Microsoft Office environment rather than from within Visual Studio. Rapid report creation is made possible by a the Tablix Wizard for adding tables, matrices, or lists, and by a Chart Wizard for adding Charts, Sparklines, and Data Bars. Report Builder allows users to create their own ad hoc reports or modify and share existing reports. Both Report Builder and Report Designer create Report Definition Language (RDL) files, but Report Designer requires more technically sophisticated users and can generate more feature-rich reports. When you run the report, the report processor takes all the information you have specified, retrieves the data, and combines it with the report layout to generate the report. You can preview your reports in Report Builder, or you can publish your report to a Reporting Services report server or a report server in SharePoint integrated mode, where others can run it.
Consulting Services Available from Progent for Business Intelligence Reporting
Progent can provide online and onsite expertise to help you with any aspect of business intelligence reporting from designing, testing and deploying a comprehensive BI solution to troubleshooting reports or providing as-needed mentoring for key technologies. Progent can help you migrate databases and reporting applications from legacy software to current platforms and resolve compatibility issues that occur as you update various components of your information system. For businesses unable to commit the resources needed for comprehensive modernization of their reporting ecosystem or whose original developer is no longer available, Progent can help maintain existing BI reporting software, provide incremental application updates based on business priority, and design a practical path to move from out-of-date technology to current reporting tools. Progent can also help you configure the servers, desktop and mobile clients, on-premises and cloud-connected network infrastructure, and security policies necessary to support a state-of-the-art BI environment.
Progent offers the services of Microsoft-certified consultants to help you integrate core .NET platforms such as Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business for seamless and secure information access and collaboration, and Progent offers the support of subject-matter experts for business applications such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Access. Progent's DBAs can help you manage multi-RDBMS environments that include Oracle and SQL Server and Progent software developers can assist you in creating custom BI applications and reports. In addition, Progent's wireless mobility consultants can help you create a secure BYOD environment for mobile access to Power BI resources by providing services that include iPhone and iPad integration and Android phone and tablet consulting.
Contact Progent for Expertise with Microsoft's Management Reporting Solutions
If you are looking for a consulting specialist in Microsoft Management Reporter, FRx, SSRS, Access, Crystal Reports, or any other popular management reporting platform, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.