Why does one consider using 3rd party reporting tools as opposed to the proprietary Report Writer which is part and parcel of the ERP solution you use?
The main reasons seem to be that somehow these tools are designed for use with their proprietary ERP/Database in mind so there is no flexibility to use them on other Databases as well as in most cases a certain knowledge of programming skills are required.
In addition they tend to be cumbersome to use. If the reporting tool is complicated or even looks like it is, people will go off the idea of trying to use it and simply give up.
They also tend to be lengthy to implement and also tends to require quite a lot of training before one is familiar enough to use it.
So how does one choose 3rd party reporting tools.
First and foremost it must be easy to use. Ie. Point at a Data source which then would display all the fields available, tick off those that you require and the tool creates the query that will extract the data. Once this is done you should be able to drag and drop the fields to create your reports. It is useful if you can change the field names to layman terms since databases are created by Technocrats. It is also useful to be able to schedule and email them as well as to export the reports in to different formats ie PDF Word Excel etc.
Secondly would be the ease of implementation and the need for very little training to be able to use which would mean your up and running in next to no time.
Check out ‘Data Studio’ for further details.