Top 10 Reporting Features of BI Tools

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(This is a multipart series about how to evaluate and select the right BI tool for you and your team. To see the entire outline of the series and a framework for how to evaluate a BI tool, see How to Select the Best BI Tool for You.)

Like shopping for a car or a new electronic device, there are likely a lot of features that the average Jane won’t need. We aim to cover the breadth of features that the top tools and analysts in the market are talking about.

It’s important to focus on what’s right for you and your use case. We recommend buyers be careful to not let features creep onto their “Want to have” or “Mission critical” lists when doing your research. It can be really easy to learn about a cool feature and then think about all the cool and creative ways you could use it. Curiosity and creativity is to be human.

Remember: You started shopping to fill a specific need. Keep that front and center as you research while getting educated on other cool features and how you may use them after your initial set of requirements are delivered.


Here are the top reporting features of BI tools to consider as part of your evaluation.

1. Ad-hoc Reporting

The solution offers an intuitive platform for non-technical users to create and distribute reports on the fly, without any assistance from the IT team.

2. Auto-schedule Reports

The solution facilitates the automatic delivery of reports at recurring time schedules.

3. Built-in Alerts

The solution comes with a built-in alerting component to distribute certain reports only when a specific pre-set condition within the data is met.

4. Canned/Managed Reporting

The solution allows technical users to design and templatize complex reports to be used by the entire organization or a specific user group. From an end-user perspective, canned reports offer limited reformatting capabilities and limited abilities to change important parts of a given report.

5. Conditional Formatting

The solution supports the conditional formatting of reports to highlight cells with a particular color or font when a specific pre-set condition is met.

6. Interactive Reporting

The solution offers interactive reporting and enables end-users to interact with different report views dynamically.

7. Reports Exporting

The solution allows exporting of reports in various formats such as HTML, Excel, CSV, or PDF files.

This is such basic functionality that we’d walk away from any tool that doesn’t have this.

8. Reports Versioning

The solution offers a versioning system for reports and allows viewing past versions of a report.

9. Text-based Natural Language Reports

The solution enables easy processing, querying, and generation of data reports and visualizations through text-based natural language commands.

10. Voice-based Natural Language Reports

The solution enables easy processing, querying, and generation of data reports and visualizations through voice-based natural language commands.


Follow the links above to read more about core functional requirements of a BI and analytics tool.

Did we miss something? Drop us a line and we’ll see about getting it added.

Need help with your BI tool selection? Book a call with us and we’ll see if we can help. If we can point you in the right direction with a short phone call, great! If you’d like to hire us to do an evaluation and selection for you, contact us and we’ll make a selection together.

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