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Reporting and Analysis

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Microsoft CRM offers several reporting and analysis tools:

  1. Entity views and the Advanced Find feature
  2. Dynamic Excel files
  3. SQL Server Reporting Services
  4. Filtered views
  5. Third-party reporting tools

Each of these tools provides a unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so you should determine the most appropriate tool for each type of analysis. As you can see from the list of reporting tools, Microsoft CRM even allows you to integrate third-party reporting tools into the user interface. Table 7-1 summarizes the reporting tools and their features.

Table 7-1: Reporting and Analysis Tools in Microsoft CRM
 

Entity views and Advanced Find

Dynamic Excel files

SQL Server Reporting Services

Filtered views

Third-party reporting tools

Report output

Microsoft CRM grids

Excel Pivot-Tables and PivotCharts

Web-based reports that can be exported to additional formats such as Excel, PDF, and CSV

SQL Server database view

Varies

Skill level required to create or modify reports

Beginner

Beginner

Advanced

Advanced

Varies

Can schedule reports for e-mail delivery

No

No

Yes

No

Varies

Supports charts and graphs

No

Yes (with Excel charts or Pivot-Charts)

Yes

No

Varies

Report results can be cached for better performance

No

No

Yes

No

Varies

Supports sub-reports and drill-through reports

No

No

Yes

No

Varies

Can include data from multiple entities in results

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Can include data from multiple entities in the report query

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Supports report snapshots

No

No

Yes

No

No

Can prompt users to enter parameters before running reports

No

No

Yes

No

Varies

Allows for user access restrictions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Does not apply

Varies

Respects Microsoft CRM security settings by default

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Reports can run contextually from an entity list or form

No

No

Yes

No

No

Users can access from Reports list

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

SQL Server Reporting Services reports clearly offer the most benefits and functionality, but they also typically require an advanced user to author new reports. In addition, Reporting Services reports might take additional time to configure and manage compared to the simpler reporting tools. The entity views and dynamic Excel tools offer less functionality than Reporting Services, but any beginner user can quickly and easily author new reports. Let's review each of these reporting tools in more detail.

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