Canned Reports: The Level Before the Next Level

After my last post it occurred to me that there are Raiser’s Edge users out there that have no idea what Crystal Reports is, so let’s take a small step back and talk about what we’re, um, talking about.

According to crystalreports.com Crystal Reports is a “…robust production reporting tool, [and] turns almost any data source into interactive, actionable information that can be accessed offline or online, from applications, portals and mobile devices.”  Okay, that’s a mouthful and way more than we need to know.  Let’s try Wikipedia’s definition instead: “It is used to design and generate reports from a wide range of data sources.”  That’s much better, except for us we are only working from one data source: The Raiser’s Edge.

You’re probably thinking “Big deal Josh, it’s a report writer.  There are plenty of canned reports built into Raiser’s Edge.  Oh, and great blog you have here.”  Correct, I do have a great blog here and there are over 100 canned reports in The Raiser’s Edge, so why would you need to write your own reports?  Well sooner or later (probably sooner) you’ll come across a canned report that doesn’t give you exactly what your organization needs, or there isn’t a canned report that even comes close to what you need.  This is when you need to take things to the next level (i.e. the level after the level before) and create a report using Crystal Reports.

You should consider creating a custom report when a canned report comes up short in any of the following areas (followed by some examples for each)::

  • Formatting – font style, size, color
  • Conditional formatting – use bold and red font if constituent code = board member
  • Grouping – by campaign, fund, appeal, constituent code, attribute
  • Sorting – by sort key, last name, constituent ID, gift amount
  • Need additional fields not available on canned report
  • Running totals
  • Subtotals – by campaign, fund, appeal, package, constituent code
  • Need columns not available on canned report

One other time you should consider creating a custom report is if you are exporting data from Raiser’s Edge to Excel and editing and reformatting it over and over and over and over and over and over (get the hint?) again.

So that’s what we’re talking about.  Here’s my definition of Crystal Reports:  it’s a powerful tool, that you already have, that can be used to meet your exact reporting needs, save your organization a lot of time and money, and has the potential to make your boss realize how much of a rock star you really are!

Rock on!

Read the next article in the Crystal Reports track: Crystal Reports: The Beginning.  It’s Where You Should Start or view the track listing here

2 thoughts on “Canned Reports: The Level Before the Next Level

  1. Do you have any advice on the best way for me to learn how to create Crystal Reports when my company won’t pay for the training?

    • i learned for $25. I bought a month on Lynda.com and spent a few hours at the library. Then, once I got into it on my own, I called BB help for CR info.

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