Reporting Tools 101

How reporting tools can help you find insights from data, and give you the best visualizations to improve business decision making.

Whether calculating a monthly grocery budget or predicting future revenue for a startup, most of us have worked with data in some capacity; plugging numbers into cells on a spreadsheet to help us make decisions.

Some of us may have even taken that a step further, converting that data into a graphic visualization that highlights an answer to a question we have. But, as anyone who’s played around with making a pie chart in a basic spreadsheet app knows, finding insights from data and creating a beautiful visualization to represent these insights can take a lot of work and time.

Reporting tools, in their most basic functionality, make this process easier, offering a variety of features that help a user or business quickly extract relevant insights and create helpful data visualizations.

What is a Reporting Tool?

Reporting tools, applications, and software pull data from multiple sources and output meaningful business reports, often in real-time. Quickly aggregating all relevant data in one spot, reporting tools allow business teams to view metrics in automated, visually appealing graphs.

While data visualizations can be created without reporting tools, reporting tools speed up data insights, decrease a company’s data visualization workload, and help prevent human error. Because of this, reporting tools have become a basic part of business operations for both large and small companies alike.

What Types of Reporting Tool Features Are There?

Reporting tools can have a wide variety of features and functionalities. A few types and their benefits are explained below.

Dashboard Reporting

Easy to adjust and understand, dashboard reporting tools feature relevant reports in a cohesive “dashboard” or single page of data visualizations. These dashboards are often shared company-wide and have dynamic data inputs that allow parties to see KPI visualizations updated in real time.

Browser-Based Viewing

Browser-based reporting tools allow businesses to access their visualizations from a basic internet browser rather than a specific software or separate app. Browser-based reports are easily shared and accessible.

Interactive Reporting

Interactive reports allow users themselves to adjust what data and visualizations they are seeing. Different reporting tools offer different levels of interactivity, but usually have interfaces that increase the ease of changing a report, as compared to a standard spreadsheet. Reporting tools’ interactive features are generally meant to be easily-accessed by non-technical users.

Static Reporting

Static reports are set visualizations that can’t be changed by the users viewing them. A reporting tool often has features that allow locked versions of reports (whether via a locked dashboard, a print-out, or PDF) to be send across a company. For finalized reports, this is a valuable feature.

What Can You Use a Reporting Tool For?

A reporting tool can be used to answer a wide variety of business questions and help assist in business planning processes, a few of which are outlined below.

Financial Planning

Financial models, or predictive financial performance metrics, can be easily built via reporting tools. Whether budgeting a team’s monthly spend or predicting next year’s revenues, reporting tools can help businesses aggregate financial data and quickly model it to answer relevant questions.

Management Consulting

Reporting tools’ visualizations are the perfect complement to for management consulting, or performance improvement consulting. Reporting tools allow you to model clients’ data quickly to answer any questions they have in real time.

Marketing Agencies

Reporting tools can also be helpful for the media planning and reporting done by marketing agencies. Marketing agencies’ clients can play with interactive dashboards, building in them a deeper understanding of relevant data, without the chance of them breaking the model.

Seed-stage SaaS

For early stage companies, where uncertainty is almost a guarantee, reporting tools (especially Causal!) can help you work with ranges of numbers so that future financial forecasts predict for different scenarios and outcomes.


E-commerce sales, revenues, and spend are more easily modelled on reporting tools, showcasing both past data and future growth predictions with ease. Want an average revenue time series, color coded by product category, or a graph that shows repeat orders over a certain time period? Reporting tools can help.

Venture Capital

Venture capital investment strategies and fees can quickly change fund performance outcomes. Interactive reporting tools that account for a wide variety of assumptions can make planning easy, efficient, and even fun.

Monte Carlo Modelling

Monte Carlo Modelling highlights the probability of different situations or outcomes, helping us understand and account for risk and random variables in our models. However, building a Monte Carlo simulation is a headache in the making. Some reporting tools (like Causal!) can help us make these multiple probability simulations in minutes, not days, without the headache.

How does Causal Work As A Reporting Tool?

Causal is a browser-based modelling and reporting tool that helps you build financial models with ease.

Causal works with variables, not cells, helping you to create models faster and helping everyone else understand your model more quickly. With interactive dashboards that are easily built and shared by your whole team, you can spend less time modelling and more time on the KPIs that matter to you.

Whether streamlining your E-Commerce models or planning your next venture capital acquisition, Causal is a great tool for almost any businesses’ needs. Causal takes the data you care about and turns it into a beautiful visualization in minutes.

Causal is free to get started and its range of live templates can help you model your data now.

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