Recently in the Business Intelligence realm, we at Key Business Solutions have been encountering more and more SAP Business One (SAP B1) customers. While still somewhat small, this community of users is growing – and they are mighty passionate about their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. On top of that, this group is dealing with a technology shake-up regarding their Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, particularly in financial reporting. Not too long ago, SAP decided to put an end to their Excel-powered reporting solution, XL Reporter (XLR), in a somewhat perplexing move due to the product’s young age and strong following of loyal customers.
We heard one customer declare, “I’m not happy about this at all,” having heard several negative things regarding SAP’s new focus on Crystal Reports as a replacement. After acquiring Business Objects a few years ago, SAP has focused their spotlight on Crystal Reports as their go-to suggestion for those that were relying on XLR to run reports. It is a fairly prevalent tool, perhaps due to its longtime affiliation with Business Objects. However, another customer expounded on some of those several negative things that are heard in SAP B1 circles.
Despite being supposedly easier to use than more mature, native ERP reporting tools, an accountant told us that Crystal Reports relies on “obscure proprietary formulas and formatting” when writing reports, among other disappointing features. He went on to mention that, even though there is a wizard to aid in generating reports, the wizard has only helped him create one usable report after using the product for about three years. He now writes his own SQL statements to connect with the database, creating reports based on his own external work. However, we’re not interested in writing exclusively about Crystal Report. Instead, we at Key Business Solutions are going to use this article to focus on the features we liked about XLR as this Excel-based reporting tool goes away and how to go about replacing the product and SAP focuses on Crystal Reports as the main focus for report writing.
XLR became the chief financial reporting tool for SAP B1 after an acquisition in 2005. Its success was immediate due to the easy-to-use, familiar Microsoft Excel interface, and it was used by tens of thousands of companies globally for its straightforwardness and its accessible capabilities. Additionally, it came pre-integrated to the SAP B1 database. The product could be used in both General Ledger (GL) and sub-ledger analysis. Crystal Reports is perhaps just as capable, but it quite technically complex and not specifically written as a report writer for financial reports or for non-technical business users. Rightfully, this is a crossroads for the SAP B1 customers that we have met relying on XLR.
To continue learning more about what to consider when picking the best replacement for XLR, read the rest of this article here.