Crystal Reports is one of the best value-adds you get with SAP Business One. The reporting tool can provide important business insights with the data your company accumulates while operating on Business One. But I confess, I was initially quite frustrated with Crystal Reports. In this post, I'll talk about what Crystal Reports is and what it is not. In doing so, I will show you how Crystal Reports compliments SAP Business One.
What Crystal Reports Is Not
I am a web designer. Before I start coding any new project I spend a fair amount of time in Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop's tools make design exploration easy. It's an environment where I am free from the constraints of coding for a web browser. My initial perception of Crystal Reports was that it too was a design tool. In reality, design is a clear afterthought.
The lack of design functionality was initially frustrating. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. My frustration with Crystal Reports was (mostly) unfounded because I initially viewed the software from the perspective of a designer. This paradigm did not allow me to understand nor appreciate what Crystal Reports is. I thought Crystal Reports was a design tool for creating reports. It is not. It is strictly a reporting tool, just as Microsoft Word is strictly a Word Processing tool. Both allow you to make design changes, yet their focus is anything but design.
What Crystal Reports Is
After I came to know the design limitations of Crystal Reports, I thought why not just use SAP Business One's Query Generator along with Microsoft SQL? Furthermore, Crystal Reports is not a core part of SAP Business One and the user interface is completely different. Why waste time learning to do something in Crystal Reports that can be done in Business One? After all, both work off of the same database... Queue the A-HA moment.
Crystal Reports is an interface to a database! That's it - that is it's function. It is a window to every piece of data that users create in SAP Business One. Becoming proficient in Crystal Reports means that you can build that window however you want. And since you are building the window, you can manipulate how people see information through it.
This fundamental realization has made Crystal Reports an incredibly effective tool for me. It's capability to provide information from SAP Business One has become a critical factor in most business decisions. Crystal Reports compliments SAP Business One by transforming your company in to a data-driven business.