Last updated on July, 28

🏆 Best Report Automation Tools for August 2021

Keep your company on top of everything by streamlining your automation processes. With report automation tools, you can save time, reduce workforce costs, and gather data to run your organization more effectively.

What are report automation tools? 

Time is gold. The more time you can save on tasks such as reporting, the more time you have to grow your business. Report automation tools gather information from data sources and convert that information to graphs or charts, so you can easily interpret the data. With report automation, you can generate accurate reports and send them at scheduled intervals. Automating reporting saves time, reduces workforce costs, and enhances the accuracy of information. With this tool, you can spend more time analyzing the data rather than collecting it.

Why do you need report automation tools

Better Organization

One of the most significant reports automation benefits is that it helps you stay organized. You can say goodbye to colleagues nudging you to give you updated reports. Using it allows you to generate reports whenever you need them. With this tool, reporting periods are stress-free, leaving clients satisfied with your top-notch reports. Since you can schedule when reports to send automatically, you won't even have to remember when to send all of them.

Higher efficiency

Are you envious of those who are always on top of their work that they have time to relax? Once you get report automation software, you can have time to spend on creative projects. The things you do manually, such as collecting data, can now be done automatically, delivering the same results in a fraction of the time. Reducing time-consuming and repetitive tasks will make you more efficient and productive. 

Less Human Resources

With report data automation, you won't need to hire more staff to help you collect data. You can submit timely, accurate reports regularly with the same resources. Since most report automation tools have features that can create complex formulas, there is no need for new analysts or programs. 

No More Late Nights

How many times have you worked late to put together a report due the next day? Automating your report generation means no more late nights. You can be more productive, enjoy better rest, and still generate high-quality reports. With report generation automation, you can focus on more important things. 

Core features of report automation tools

Report Elements

The report elements feature determines how information is presented in your report. These elements include components such as pictures, apps, and graphs for better data visualization. Visualizations will make your report attractive and easy to understand. Many report automation tools also include infographics, filters, barcodes, and widgets to help you create a well-designed report.

Report Creation

Report creation has an impact on how your report comes together. With this feature, you can create report writing automation templates and add customizable abilities to suit your needs. By using templates, creating reports is fast and easy. Custom creation allows you to build the exact report you need.  The best automation tools include other report creation features, including drag and drop functions, real-time updates, themes, and layouts.  

Report Viewing

Report viewing refers to the different file formats you can convert your report. An excellent tool has a report automation icon to save reports to Microsoft Excel, PDF, and HTML. You can even embed your report into programs or post it online, thereby increasing the audience of your reports. This feature is handy if you want to boost views or simply share reports with team members and clients.  The recipient doesn't have to be proficient in using reporting tools and can easily access reports through different formats.

Report Delivery 

Most report automation tools offer delivery features to ensure that information is sent to the right place and interpreted easily by the recipient. Some accessibility features will allow you to control who can view the reports, when, and how they can do so. You can fine-tune report delivery to facilitate your team's needs by using the report scheduling feature. Accessing and restricting who views reports also ensure information is kept secure. 

Report Design

This feature focuses on the functionality of the report, including how data is extracted, organized, and prepared. Most software systems use tools like data filtering, data sorting, data grouping, and data blending to customize a report. The report design feature allows you to manage data as you interact with the report.

Report Types

The best word report automation tools provide formats for different reports depending on your needs. For example, you can select types of reports to present data on productivity, sales, inventory, and performance. Once you select the type of report you want to generate, all you need to do is input data, and the report is automatically generated. With this feature, you can even customize existing templates and present them however you wish. 

Types of report automation tools

Business Intelligence Tools (BI tools)

Business intelligence tools give you the insight you need to achieve growth or solve internal issues. These tools collect all data in one place and forecast future outcomes. Business intelligence platforms include features like reporting and analysis, data visualization, and analytics. You can use reports generated to monitor trends, recognize new opportunities, and increase productivity.

Pro #1: Seamless User Interface

BI tools have an attractive, easy-to-use interface that anyone can learn to use. You don't have to be an analyst or programmer to enjoy this type of automation software. Since everything is accessible from a single web-based interface, onboarding new staff will be relaxed.

Pro #2: Sharing Functions

Being able to create impressive reports is useless if you can't share them. All BI tools have multiple sharing functions that guarantee your employees can easily share valuable knowledge. For example, you can share the report via email, using a link, or even through social media. By sharing an online version of your report, you can even allow others to share their ideas by adding comments or notes. 

Pro #3: Microsoft Office Compatible

If you are currently using report automation in Excel, don't worry! You can upload all your data from spreadsheets and generate reports on your BI dashboard. Then, you can even download the finished report in whatever format you wish and email it to others. 

Con #1: Expensive Licensing

BI software licenses are known to be pricey, and most BI tools do not offer a free trial.

Con #2: Server Shutdown

Some BI tools can only handle a certain degree of complexity before they overload and shut down. 

Code-it-yourself System 

The beauty of code-it-yourself systems is you can code your system for report automation. The advantage of such automation tools is its personalization and flexibility since you are doing everything yourself; you can create a system that is designed for your company.

Pro #1: Flexibility

Unlike traditional report automation tools with built-in features, you get to decide how the software works according to your needs. This flexibility means you won't have to sacrifice anything, and you can create an all-in-one system that takes care of all your operational needs.

Con #1: Time and Effort

Creating your home report automation software takes a lot of time and effort. You will have to hire a team of developers to develop the software and maintain it over time.

Con #2: Costly

Hiring a dedicated team to handle the creating and maintenance of your software is a long-term investment. 

Data Analytics Dashboard Tools

Data analytics dashboard tools are less complicated than BI tools, although they still require a little know-how. The difference with this type of tool is that it offers fewer features and less flexibility. However, if you want a system that is affordable and still useful, data analytics dashboard tools are the answer.

Pro #1: Budget-Friendly

Data analytics dashboard tools only offer basic automated reporting features, which makes them affordable. You can save time collecting data and generate attractive reports without worrying about costly monthly fees. You can even find free data analytics dashboard tools. 

Pro #2: Easy-to-Use

Compared to BI tools, data analytics dashboard tools are more user-friendly. This feature is ideal if you are continually adding new members to your team because you won't have to spend too many resources on training. 

Con #1: Fewer Features

If you require the generation of complex reports, this type of automation tool may not be for you. 

Who needs report automation tools?

Managers

Creating reports is one of the most time-consuming tasks for any manager. With report automation tools, you can make use of attractive layouts, graphs, tables, and other visual aids with the click of the mouse. You can even create complex reports like an automated feasibility report without worrying about complex formulas. 

IT Personnel

Monitoring the company's hardware and software has never been easier with these tools. Report automation allows you to easily send automated reports and schedule emails to the responsible person. With this system, you can monitor the frequency of system failures, track recurring issues, and offer recommendations.

Finance Officers

With report automation, Excel spreadsheets are a thing of the past. You won't need to switch between multiple sheets and create complex formulas to generate accurate reports. Most report automation software has built-in report templates, so all you need to do is add the data and tweak a little here and there. In a matter of minutes, you can generate impressive reports to send to your boss.

HR Personnel

Being an HR for a large company is a challenge, especially when it comes to tracking attendance, leaves, and other essential issues. With report automation tools, you can keep a comprehensive database of all the necessary information and automatically create reports whenever you need them. Converting data into easy-to-understand visual aids like graphs will give you a better idea of what aspects need attention. You can then present this information to higher-ups who can create solutions based on your recommendations. 

SEO Specialists

Search Engine Optimization specialists handle a massive volume of raw data. Report automation tools can make the complex task of organizing and presenting data child's play. Tools specialized for SEO specialists help in backlink and keyword analysis, site audits, SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rank tracking, and competitor comparisons. With the help of this software, you can present data in a comprehensive manner.

Marketing Staff

Visually appealing reports are a must-have if you are to impress clients. Report generation automation simplifies the task of compiling data from multiple sources, organizing it, and presenting it attractively. You can choose from several custom-built templates to highlight specific areas of your report and use drag-and-drop widgets for better visualization. Then, you can schedule when to send reports to your clients, so you are always on time. 

School Administrators

Comparing student performance, analyzing admission rates, and storing student information is easy with the right automation tool. These systems include features that allow you to 'slice and dice' data easily. You can even customize the system to enable different users (officials, teachers, parents) with varying privileges of access to view necessary information. Keeping track of all student records is straightforward and secure with this tool. 

Legal Firms

Large law firms need to keep track of the performance of its attorneys. With the help of report automation, you can find hidden trends, identify top performers, and compare performances without hiring a programmer. Report automation, in reality, helps you examine client retention rates and even monitor billing.

Step-by-step guide in choosing the best report automation tools

Step1: Identify your needs.

Each business is different. From the frequency you have to send reports – to the degree of customization necessary, you need to decide what system will work for you. To help you make the best decision, ask yourself these questions:

How much customization do I need?

How often will I need to send reports?

How much can I afford to spend on this software?

What KPI's (key performance index) will I need to track?

How many people will I share the report with?

What data will I need to organize?

Once you answer these vital questions, you can decide which system will work for you.

Step 2: Weigh the pros and cons of each type of software. 

There are three main options in terms of open-source report automation tools: code it yourself system, data processing tools, and business intelligence tools. If you want an easy to install a tool that is also affordable and flexible, data processing tools are ideal for your business. However, if you choose this type of automation tool, you need professional analysts to interpret the data.

Business intelligence tools are more complex and require a longer set-up time but offer complete data analysis. Data analytics dashboard tools come in different packages and can even be free. However, they aren't user-friendly and have fewer customization options. 

Before purchasing any report automation tool, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each software. Make sure the software you select can cater for all your report needs and that you have the personnel to facilitate implementation.

Step 3: Understand how automated reporting works. 

Once you decide which type of automation software fits your needs, you need to learn how to automate a report. The good news is with report automation tools; only three steps are involved:

Data Extraction

Likely, you already have a database with all the data you need to generate a report. So, the first step is connecting your software to your database. Once your database is integrated, it will be updated in real-time so you can extract data and generate reports at any time. 

Create a Template

Most automation tools have built-in templates that you can customize easily. Once you determine the type of report you want to generate, all you need to do is filter the parameters. If you already have templates in your spreadsheet, you can also import these templates to the tool and automate reports. 

Schedule Reports

Automation tools use a "timing schedule function that allows you to set the frequency you need reports to be generated easily. You can set a report to be generated daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Once you set the scheduled reports, the software will automatically generate reports at the scheduled time. You are then notified of the generated reports via email or message.

Step 4: Get to know the different types of reports. 

Most report automation tools can generate three types of reports: general reports, aggregate reports, and dashboard reports. These three types of reports can solve all kinds of business needs.

General Reports

The pattern used in comprehensive reports resembles the table-like pattern of spreadsheets with rows and columns and multiple sheets, and so on. You can use these reports for generating statistics, invoice templates, or customer cards. If you only want to present a fraction of the data, you can filter the data and create a "parameter query". A parameter query can be tailored to be sued as an employee registration form, an inventory list, or any other form you need. 

Aggregate Reports

An aggregate report contains multiple modules that function independently and can be of varying sizes. This report allows you to create complex tables with different row heights or column width without affecting the entire sheet. Since the row height and column width between cells don't affect each other, you have greater flexibility. 

Dashboard Reports

With dashboard reports, you can use a simple drag and drop operation to construct a canvas-like report. Different data can be integrated into the same page and presented in the form of charts, tables, graphs, and infographics. This type of report is ideal for displaying various business indicators to achieve multi-dimensional data analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Even if you have streamlined your process, there is always room for improvement. One of the biggest reasons you should consider using report automation tools is you will save money. By cutting back on labor and outsourcing, you can speed up business processes and get rid of human error. Many automation tools allow you to upload your current database, so you don't have to worry about losing data.

This question is one of the common concerns with automating. The truth is, even if you start using automation tools, you still need personnel to manage the software. In short, you are not destroying jobs, but instead, you are making jobs more comfortable and improving productivity. With report automation tools, your staff can spend time on more critical tasks such as data analysis while the software takes care of time-consuming tasks like data collection.

Some data analytics dashboard tools are free. However, if you want to enjoy maximum features, it is wise to invest in paid tools. Usually, these paid tools have a free trial period, which allows you to evaluate whether it is a good match for your business. After the free trial, you will be in a better position to select the best software for your company.

Yes, you can! If you decide to upgrade to another plan, your dashboards will follow you no matter what pan upgrade you choose. Usually, subscriptions depend on the number of dashboards you can create and can start at three dashboards up to 100 panels. The plan you select will depend on the size of your company and the type of reports you need to make.

The cost of report automation software depends on several factors:


The number of reports - the more pages a report has, the higher the cost


The number of report templates - using more than one model can also affect pricing


The amount of calculation/analysis needed - necessary arithmetic calculations are free, but if you need to use algorithms and other complex calculations, you'll pay a higher price


Output format - exporting to spreadsheets or PDFs has no cost, but for Word and Powerpoint, you may need more significant investment.


Before you select a plan, make sure you understand what you are getting and that all your needs are met with the plan. This will prevent the hassle of having to upgrade in the future.

Many fear that their competitive information could fall into the wrong hands. However, the best-automated reporting systems value the security of your account and information. Some of the security features used include:


Relink feature - This feature is handy, if by mistake, you publish your dashboard on social media or if an employee leaves the company. All you have to do is regenerate a link for any dashboard so that the old link isn't accessible.


Encrypted URLs - The URL's of dashboards are generated with an algorithm that ensures a low probability of duplication. In short, you don't have to worry about anyone guessing the URLs of your dashboard.


PIN option - You can decide to add a personal identification number on any dashboard you wish. This added feature gives clients the peace of mind that only they have access to delicate information.


Restricted IP addresses - Most software systems allow you to restrict access to your dashboards by IP addresses. This security feature is useful if you are on a private network like a bank or government agency.

Yes. You can create one account and share the dashboard URL with your client so only they can access it. Another option is to create different accounts for each of your clients. Sharing dashboard URLs is as easy as copying a link or even customizing the URL with your domain name.

Yes. Working with multiple colleagues is no problem with report automation tools. All you need to do is access the User Management section and click "invite user." Then, you can just add the email addresses in the form and send an invitation. 

A campaign dashboard tracks the performance of a campaign. You can create a dashboard with a custom data range to compare your current campaign to a previous one. Depending on how long your campaign, you can track performance using different widgets. The most common widgets include:


Trend widgets - This widget lets you compare campaigns in your dashboards using graphs.


Number widgets - You can set goals for your current campaign using this widget and measure the progress you're making towards your goal.


List widget - Using this widget, you can view the difference between the current and previous campaigns.


Multi-column list - This widget lets you display all your metrics within a single table. Data are shown from left to right and include the difference between the past and present campaigns.

The data source is a piece of information that is accessible once you have integrated your system. You can integrate data from your social media accounts, video platforms, and other sources. Once you select the source, you can incorporate data automatically. However, in some cases, you will need to add the data sources manually.