Crystal Reports is your friend!
Updated January 17, 2018

Crystal Reports is your friend!

Alicia Barevich, bCRE, bCEE | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with SAP Crystal

Most departments use Crystal Reports in one way or another. Crystal Reports enables custom reports to be able to be pulled from the database, making formatting and custom calculations fairly easy. Our demands on complex reports are hefty, and Crystal Reports allows us to meet pretty much all of these complicated demands from departments across the organization.
  • Custom calculations and filtering - it can be complicated to program, depending on how your input tables are linked, etc., but pretty much anything is possible.
  • Design - Most of our reports are fairly simple, but you can get pretty complex with the display of reports, with spacing, page breaks, color, etc.
  • Coding - The formulas use a SQL-based language, which is fairly easy to navigate. There is also a UI that enables users to create formulas without direct language of code, but familiarity definitely helps.
  • The newer version (XI) stalls when it processes multiple "gift summary" fields from Raiser's Edge. I'm not sure if this problem exists when connecting to any other software, but we had to re-code a number of our reports so that these "gift summary" fields were used in sub-reports, then fed back to the main report. Once we did that, the report ran instantly and didn't stall.
  • The UI is not very user-friendly for non-coders. I think it's fine, but there is a pretty steep learning curve for new users.
  • There are very few opportunities for training on Crystal Reports at an advanced level. If you want to learn more about the program, and you already have an intermediate level of experience with it, you'll basically just have to teach yourself.
We didn't really compare it to a specific alternative, since it is a packaged component of our database system, but I have also used Access and other report-creator-esque products, and Crystal Reports is the most customizable. Access can make pretty reports, but it is much harder to utilize, I think, since it's entirely self-coded. Crystal Reports is SQL-based, but it has enough back-end strength that you don't need to dive into quite as much detail in linking tables and indexing fields and whatnot. You can, however, dig just about as deep as you could ever want to.
Our databases have certain "canned reports" that are useful, but we use Crystal Reports for MANY things that our databases don't automatically produce. Our reports can have custom calculations and fields, a nice layout, and quick processing time. The main drawback is the steep learning curve required, even to just refresh a pre-existing report with new data.

SAP Crystal Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Customizable dashboards
Report Formatting Templates
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Integration with R or other statistical packages
Not Rated
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Not Rated
Publish to PDF
Report Versioning
Not Rated
Report Delivery Scheduling
Not Rated
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Not Rated
Predictive Analytics
Not Rated
Multi-User Support (named login)
Not Rated
Role-Based Security Model
Not Rated
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Not Rated
Responsive Design for Web Access
Not Rated
Mobile Application
Not Rated
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
Not Rated

Using SAP Crystal

15 - Only 2 users are heavy in report creation/editing, but many at our school are able to run reports, and in some cases, make minor edits. Crystal Reports are used for almost all reporting within the organization for fundraising, and educational reports, like transcripts. We also use Crystal to "integrate" various platforms together. We use Blackbaud as our primary database, but use Crystal to create import files to feed other systems we use.
2 - Crystal can largely be used without any knowledge of its code, which is SQL-ish. That said though, you can't be intimidated by code, and I find it much easier to manipulate functions using the code, rather than searching through the menus for everything you might need. It does take specific knowledge beyond just SQL/reporting though, since the menus aren't particularly intuitive, and there's no way to use it as 100% code.
  • Fundraising reporting
  • Transcripts, etc
  • Integrations
  • Our fundraising records are exceptionally complex, so we rely on Crystal to make sure that they are calculated correctly on reports.
  • We utilize Crystal, rather than raw export files, to provide deeper customization in the import files that feed non-primary data-driven systems.
  • Integrating different platforms
  • Creating extra robust reports for fundraising progress
  • Creating custom letters from the database.

Evaluating SAP Crystal and Competitors

  • Prior Experience with the Product
  • Vendor Reputation
  • Existing Relationship with the Vendor
It has a native integration with our primary database software, Blackbaud. There really isn't much alternative for reporting software when you use Blackbaud's database systems.
I'm satisfied with Crystal. It was implemented and selected decades before I was hired here, and also at my previous job, but I was partially recruited into my current position because I had knowledge about how to write and manipulate Crystal reports.

SAP Crystal Implementation

I wasn't around. It was decades ago
  • I wasn't there. I don't know. Probably coding the reports. It's a lot of work.

SAP Crystal Support

Using SAP Crystal

It's quite cumbersome, but I know how to use it fairly well.
Like to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
Unnecessarily complex
Difficult to use
Not well integrated
Slow to learn
Lots to learn
  • Running reports
  • Choosing filters once they're set up
  • Almost everything regarding building a report and leveraging formulas or any deep tools
  • Grouping, filtering, and doing anything particularly dynamic