At some point, Crystal Reports administrators must break the chains of manually distributing reports. Liberation does not come easy, however. One cannot simply stop sending the reports; the business wouldn’t be able to function! Thus administrators must find freedom in implementing a crystal report generator that can either automatically generate Crystal Reports for users, or serve as a portal for users to access their reports.
Typically, there are 3 routes an administrator can pursue in order to regain their workplace liberty. If possible, the admin could make better use of their ERP systems own reporting functions. The administrator could spend a few sleepless nights building a system themselves. Investing in a Crystal Report Scheduler tool may be an option as well.
Use your ERP system’s available functions
After all, the reports’ data are usually driven from this system!
- The interface will be familiar to users, and would require little additional training.
- Since it is already integrated into the business, it costs nothing, and little infrastructure change is needed.
In many cases, however, internal report generation functions in ERP systems don’t cut the mustard. Since an ERP system is far more focused on handling its primary functions of data warehousing, systems management and so on, it offers little in the way of report scheduling. Some ERPs may allow for scheduling a daily email as a PDF file, but lack some of the most detailed options such as report encryption, dynamic report publication.
For the most part, ERP systems can usually serve the most basic reporting needs, but are far from a complete Crystal report generation and deployment system.
Build your own Crystal Reports Scheduler.
- The “do it yourself” approach has many benefits. The reporting administrator and his developers (if they exist) can design a system that accomplishes exactly what they require. Moreover, the system is completely customized to operate within the business’ procedures and processes. From a cost standpoint, building a Crystal Reports scheduler technically costs nothing. Aside from additional hardware, hopefully, no software needs to be purchased, and labor could be accounted for in the staff’s salaries if it’s possible.
- However, also looking at costs, the “DIY” model may end up costing more than it’s worth. If Staff is hourly, additional labor costs are incurred for developing the system. If there are no developers on staff, they would need to be hired to build the project. Furthermore, staff would be needed to maintain this home built system. In-house systems usually lack the “polish” of an ERP system or a dedicated scheduler. Important tools such as exception handling, audit trailing, and tracking are often left out of the picture.
- Powerful features such as redundancies and security can be difficult to build in-house, and can cost even more in terms of time and money to create. Ultimately, the “do it yourself” approach gives the business complete control over the direction of its report generation system, the firm may be left with the feeling of reinventing the wheel at a higher cost.
Buy an "off-the-shelf" Crystal Reports scheduling system
These are 3rd party tools that are created specifically for scheduling Crystal Reports automatically or on demand. Systems such as Crystal Reports Server or CRD are great for scheduling or viewing Crystal Reports. Typically existing outside of the firm’s ERP system, 3rd party Crystal report generators interface with the ERP’s reports and serves them according to the business’ needs. As they are complete applications, additional training and resources such as hardware may be needed to support the system.
There are a number of benefits to using a 3rd party tool to schedule and serve Crystal Reports. These are usually well-established tools with various features that can save additional time. Most firms will find that cost can be a barrier to going this route when compared to other methods, benefits could outweigh the costs. As opposed to creating a program in-house, these tools are easily implemented with little need for additional development. Rather than spending large amounts of time building a solution, off the shelf tools can be implemented within days or weeks rather than months or years. Support options enable the administrator to focus on building better reports rather than managing the reporting tool as well.
Choosing the right path for the firm is not an easy one. It largely depends on budget, the time required to achieve the desired results. If possible using internal ERP functions to serve reports is the cheapest and easiest way out, but it can lack in flexibility. Building your own report generation system is an option also, but only if the resources and staff are available. Purchasing an off the shelf Crystal Reports scheduling solution is very appetizing, however, the business must be willing to make the investment!