Crystal Reports, the reporting tool that says yes to Sage X3!

Often associated with SAP, rightly, Crystal had already experienced a marriage of convenience with another well-known ERP: Sage X3. Hold on tight, the idyll lasts forever.


What's the point of imagining a whole decision-making system if you don't have a good reporting tool. In the age of instant data, Crystal Reports is positioned as a reporting solution as much for decision-making as for its application.


What is Crystal Reports?

We could have pasted the wikipedia definition here, but we preferred to present to you this tool on which we work on a daily basis for our customers.


Crystal Reports is a powerful tool designed for report development. Its objective: to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of information.


The solution allows you to create reports from all kinds of data gathered in the same place. It is therefore possible to retrieve data from practically all databases on the market (SQL/Server, Oracle, etc.) and even from different types of source documents (Excel, text, Html, Salesforce, SPINDLE, OLAP, etc.) and integrate them all into a single file.


Example, you have integrated Salesforce for the CRM part and Sage X3 for the ERP part. With Crystal, you will be able to create a visit schedule for a sales representative which would contain on one side all the information related to the appointment with a client (address, time, contact name, etc.) and on the other you need to know about his history with your company (orders, billing update, turnover generated, etc.).


Crystal Reports allows you to create operational reports (orders, invoices) but also dashboards. The level of parameterization proposed is deep and can even be conditioned by sophisticated algorithmic formulas. The layout, as implicit as it is attractive, can be forced or contradicted in the event that it does not fully correspond to the requests of a client.


Point to remember, Crystal Reports is a multi-pass product. This characteristic gives it an undeniable competitive advantage. An advantage that even makes it a benchmark in a niche market.


To sum up, Crystal Report makes document generation flexible while promoting the culture of well-informed decision-making:


  • Allows you to create reports from disparate data
  • Offers a complete restitution of the data
  • Proposes a layout adapted to the needs
  • Has features for sorting, formulas, searches, conditional formatting, grouping, ranking

al and ERP X3: a historical link

Reports have always played a very important role in any ERP system. This is why, at the time, Crystal was already part of the Adonix product before the takeover of the French company by the English publisher Sage in the late 2000s.


A story that still lasts today since we find the solution integrated into the ERP X3. And no offense to some, this association still works just as well.


Crystal Reports within Sage X3 is and remains a valuable aid in helping companies create a report to build reliable analysis. Without daring to use the term "irreplaceable", we could at least tell you that Crystal is perfectly complementary to the other management and supervision solutions that you can find in X3.


Sage X3, SEI and Business Intelligence: Crystal Reports has made its mark

As a reminder, Business Intelligence (BI) or business intelligence refers to all the tools and methods allowing companies and decision-makers to analyze their data for the benefit of informed and more efficient decision-making.


If we take a closer look at X3, we see very quickly that the publisher Sage highlights SEI as THE BI solution for its ERP. Except that Crystal Reports is one too.


SEI and Crystal: a game of shades

At Flow Line, we have consultants familiar with X3, SEI and Crystal Reports. Try the experience of chatting with one of them. The first reaction of your interlocutor will be to tell you: “Be careful, even if SEI and Crystal are both BI tools, the method and their respective use are to be qualified. ". He hastened to add: “SEI is closer to the pure aspect of BI. However, one does not preclude the other. They are ultimately complementary.


An interesting feedback that pushes us to go further to understand the nuance between the two solutions.


The relationship to data

The 1st shade mark is related to the data. Indeed, Crystal makes it possible to "attack" the database and therefore to work directly on the exploitation tables. The tool makes it possible to manipulate data that could be described as raw.


On the SEI side, the data provided will be more “edible”, i.e. ready to use and turned towards the functional to help with the analysis. This type of data can take the form of extremely simplified key performance indicators.


The nature of the use

Where SEI wants to be a very practical solution for creating tables, ad-hoc reports or even monitoring indicators, Crystal Reports will be more to be considered as a tool for developing and extracting documents.


SEI is effective in reducing its analysis time with many predefined dashboard templates. Crystal is perfect for providing an operational document intended for third parties with an advanced level of presentation.


User experience

By definition, a Business Intelligence solution is intuitive and aims to be oriented towards the user experience. Sage Enterprise Intelligence easily meets this criteria with a steep learning curve. We have already presented 4 relevant features of this ERP X3 decision-making module.


With Crystal, it is also possible to do BI but the usual dressing will be different. It is a development tool and therefore a design tool that is more focused on the technical aspect. It is for this reason that it is possible to do everything in terms of documentation.


Crystal end user, who are you really?

So yes, the majority of Crystal Reports users at our customers are developers, however more and more of our interlocutors, outside IT departments, feel independent enough to work on it and do some configuration.


How is this possible then? The answer is simple: the state library.


Indeed, as we have Crystal integrated in the ERP X3, the solution is in a way pre-developed with no less than 500 reports available to the user. This wide range of models covers all management documentation needs ranging from simple quotes to the accounting ledger.


All these documents are configured to allow their use in very different scenarios and related to business specificities. Existing parameterization can be easily implemented.


In addition, most of the documents provided by Sage are easily translatable even without prior knowledge of Crystal. This documentation in French or in a foreign language is intended to be complete, educational and illustrated with numerous examples.


In the end, to answer the question "Crystal user, who are you really?" Here are the possibilities:


  • Developer
  • Advanced user
  • User who has undergone rapid training

The advantages of the solution in X3

Crystal Reports is powerful with many associated features. Here are a few :


  • Edition of barcodes in native mode – QR code, EAN13, CODE128, CODE39 …
  • OLAP-like multi-dimensional cube data management
  • Creation of dashboards – Pivot tables
  • Possibility of integrating existing SQL queries to constitute the CDM of the report
  • Important algorithmic functions – Language in crystal or visual basic syntax.
  • Integration of images stored in X3 or offline

Why is Crystal so associated with SAP?

If you type “Crystal Report” in the Google search bar, almost all engine results will show the association “SAP Crystal Report”.


So why this brand name? In 2007, SAP had the good idea to launch a friendly takeover bid on Business Objects, the entity that was then developing Crystal Reports, recognized as one of the leading tools in its segment.


Casually, the operation amounted to several billion euros. Coincidentally or rather symbol of a growing market, it was at the same time that Sage bought the French company Adonix.


The Flow Line review on Crystal Reports

A worthwhile reporting toolbox

The main feature of Crystal Reports is probably its adaptability. Users have the ability to customize their reports and design their documents to fit seamlessly into their existing management style:


  • A library of reports in quantity
  • Extremely powerful functions
  • Full coverage of business operational documentation needs
  • Ability to create Business Intelligence documents
  • Advanced settings accessible for an experienced user

Crystal Reports won't break the bank

In terms of software, the note can be more or less heavy depending on your needs. Another advantage of Crystal Reports is that the solution is ideal right away since it does not require heavy initial investments being integrated into X3.


In addition to being useful over time, it is also a good starting point for companies that wish to gradually build their decision-making system in connection with their ERP project.


We hope it and article will have given you an interesting insight into Crystal Reports. If you wish to improve your reporting system, do not hesitate to contact our teams to develop your models or go further in the use of this solution.

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