Anyone that uses Crystal Reports or Crystal Server is bound to have a lengthy list of grievances. The product has an extremely high market share and continues to hold on to that market share, despite its limitations (a whopping 68% still). This is because Crystal Reports will get the job done. However, it will only be done through tedious and often complicated work that tends to frustrate even the most advanced developers. In complex environments, Crystal Reports can actually hinder progress, rather than driving success.
Each week we talk to a few potential customers that are looking to replace Crystal. Some have gotten to the point where they need more visual, interactive dashboard software, some are seeing the pain of upgrading, others want more mobile and web capabilities.
If you struggle with reporting with SAP Crystal Reports, here are some signs that it might be time to consider an alternative.
Every Crystal report must be individually formatted, right down to fields and labels. When a single condition is altered, new details must be entered for each use. When tweaking the report, the amount of work required is extremely time-consuming, and authors to have to engage in what amounts to “fiddling around’ with controls.
Consistency is critical to reporting. All reports related to one operation or system should look the same. With Crystal Reports, developers have to struggle to maintain consistency, matching fonts, sizes, values, etc. It’s not uncommon to find three fonts in a single line item, even after a developer spends time trying to get everything matched up.
Developers have all experienced the sheer frustration of staring at a blank report. With no warning, Crystal Reports will silently fail due to an unnamed error. Some people not-so-affectionately refer to this as the Grey Screen of Death. When this happens, the developer becomes locked in an epic battle of man vs. machine. The developer literally must guess what the problem is, rather than being guided through a solution. There are times when error messages will appear, but the information is often less than robust, forcing developers to Google the error number to determine the source of the problem.
Crystal Reports replicates data information on every report it generates, creating something of a logistical spider web when something changes. If a password for one database is updated, for example, it can throw off the entire reporting system, causing developers to have to update every single report she is responsible for generating. The system welds itself to the original data source, causing headaches for anyone utilizing multiple environments.
Interested in seeing how a given report works? Crystal Reports wishes everyone the best of luck. If, for example, someone needs to look at the way specific formulas have been defined, it is impossible to see all definitions in a single pass. Developers have to open individual dialog boxes for each item in order to get to its definition. Those boxes then have to be closed before any code can be altered.
Developers can spend hours sorting through the tedium that is required to manage Crystal Reports. Simple processes that should be automated are left to manual action, and there is no way to get around it. There is often more guesswork and trial-and-error than should be required to generate meaningful information.
Crystal Reports does have value, but over the years, few changes have been implemented to make the tool truly useful in fast-paced, complex environments. If you struggle with presentation, formatting, manual operations, hidden data, and the general frustration that comes with Crystal Reports, it’s time to talk about updating to a new reporting tool that considers the needs and the time of developers and users.
If you or your team are fed up with Crystal Reports, request a demo today to learn more about Yurbi, a user-friendly alternative to Crystal Reports that can take development time away from reporting, allowing users and developers to focus on processes that will drive the organization forward, rather than keeping it mired in manual report generation and modification.