How Can I Migrate From Crystal Reports? (To A More Modern BI Tool)

DashboardFox - Crystal Reports Alternative

Migrate from Crystal Reports — How?

We are often here for prospective customers as they are doing their research on how to migrate from Crystal Reports or Business Objects.

There are lots of reasons why businesses are looking to move away from Crystal that we won’t go into here, but you can read more about those in our article on the top reasons people are looking to replace Crystal Reports.

And there are lots of BI solutions on the market that can replace Crystal Reports. But there are a few specific features that all Crystal Report businesses look for as they search. We cover the top alternatives to Crystal Reports in this article.

For this article, we want to talk about the process or method of replacing Crystal Reports. Unfortunately, there’s not a button you can push to migrate all those .rpt files you have (the license agreement with Crystal forbids that).

So here’s a look at our approach when we migrate someone from Crystal Reports to DashboardFox.

Our Recommended Steps to Migrate from Crystal Reports

Again, there’s no quick fix to get your data across into another BI tool. It requires some effort, and there are ways to make it easier.

  1. Make an inventory of the reports that need to be migrated. Conduct an in-depth audit to assess what you need now, as you may have 100s or even 1000s of outdated reports that are no longer being used.
  2. Group these reports into similar categories. Many Crystal Reports users have several versions of essentially the same report. But they’ll have small differences, such as filtering by a particular department or date range. This is usually a sign of how static Crystal Reports can be. Sometimes, just one dynamic DashboardFox report can replace 10s or 100s of Crystal Reports by adapting parameters and dynamic data-level steps.
  3. Talk to the end-user. This step’s big but often left out by the IT department. Speak with the consumer – the reports you think are the most important may hardly be referenced by them as they’re outdated. They may already be using MS Excel as a workaround for analyzing the data, as we know end-users when their reporting software isn’t giving them what they need. Which features of their reports do they prefer, dislike, or need?
  4. Look at your database’s SQL queries. Is the code that pulls data from your data sources into Crystal Reports still valid? If so, it could be reused in the new BI tool, and you could also simplify things by creating SQL views. Make and create stored procedures to save time or consolidate data into a data lake. These considerations will help make the migration as painless as possible.
  5. Sort the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. Aim to accomplish more than just a data migration and architecture that replicates what you had in Crystal Reports – far too many companies unwittingly head down this route. At the same time, note these down if there are features of Crystal Reports you’ve critically assessed and don’t want to live without.

Useful features of Crystal Reports

Some aspects you may want to consider trying to replicate in your new reporting tool are:

Pixel-perfect layout

Do you have reports that absolutely must look a specific way? Crystal Reports is renowned for its pixel-perfect reporting forms, but not many self-service BI tools nowadays have the same functionality.

Instead of forcing yourself into another developer-reliant BI tool, scrutinize each report to justify whether it gains anything by having a static, pixel-perfect design.

PDF exports and scheduling

This is a big requirement for many Crystal Reports users, as in some cases, they need to keep being able to produce highly-formatted PDF documents. But again, many modern BI tools don’t focus on this feature.

Nail down the exact requirement for your PDF exports so that you’ll select the right reporting tool for your needs.

Grouping data and complex sub-queries

Crystal Report developers can have an intense working method that results in reports with very complex queries. As many modern BI tools approach interfaces with Visual SQL, it may be difficult to replicate many complicated queries used in Crystal Reports. And remember, you don’t want to be pressured down the road of more developer-oriented BI tools.

If these reports are essential, assess if they can be deconstructed and rewritten—this counts as essential to preserving a critical report for your team while saving a lot of time.

How Can DashboardFox Help Migrate From Crystal Reports?

You need a great business intelligence tool that can help you migrate everything from Crystal Reports to a much better BI tool. This is where DashboardFox comes in to (hopefully) save the day.

A few key differentiators of DashboardFox that can be important to Crystal Report environments:

Self-Hosted. DashboardFox is installed on your local network and server and connects directly to your data sources. No need to migrate to a cloud BI vendor or worry about syncing or daily updates of data (or the security concerns that come with data with a 3rd party vendor).

Eliminates desktop installations. Once installed, DashboardFox is 100% accessed via a web browser. No need to worry about deploying new report files or upgrading to an expensive Business Objects server. DashboardFox will run on all your desktop clients and mobile devices, plus you can brand and customize the interface to match your business branding.

Self-service BI. Your crystal reports developer is tired (or retired). “I like writing crystal reports” – says no one except the consultant that you have to pay anytime you want to take a chance. DashboardFox takes a self-service approach, meaning a regular business user can use it. Now that doesn’t mean they have to build their own reports, you can have someone on your team be responsible for building all the dashboards and reports. The key, they don’t need to be a developer.

Exporting and Email Scheduling. DashboardFox allows the export of reports to Excel, PDF, and CSV (or PNG if a chart/graph). And reports and dashboards can be delivered on a regular basis via email. Now we don’t offer pixel-perfect PDFs, but we can get the data out of the system and into a format you can use.

Cost. DashboardFox doesn’t lock you into a subscription or cost an arm and a leg like many of these modern BI vendors do. DashboardFox is a one-time payment, and then you have an optional renewal cost if you want to continue to receive priority support or new software updates. And it’s affordable.

We know you are already curious, so let us quench your curiosity. Book a live demo session for free and see how we can help you migrate from Crystal Reports that will benefit you and your company without having to break the bank.

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