SQL Reporting Services
Often one of the biggest challenges facing companies is the extraction of the data that employees spend so much time entering into their business application. Even if the data is accessible, it's not always necessarily in a format that is useful.
A solution to this is the useful and often underused Microsoft SQL Server add-on feature called Reporting Services. SQL Server is the database system which powers many of the business applications that are currently in widespread use, including Microsoft Dynamics GP, SL, POS, CRM, and Sage MAS software packages. The Reporting Services add-on allows for the creation of reports using data that is sometimes not available from within the application itself.
These new reports can be tabular or graphic, and can include charts, graphs and pictures. In addition, the output from Reporting Services can be easily exported to several popular formats, including Excel, Word, PDF, XML and comma delimited. The system is browser-based, meaning that usually no new software needs to be installed on the local workstations to view the resulting reports. A full security model based upon Windows networking is included, ensuring that all confidential reports are kept secure. Other valuable features include ad hoc report creation and report scheduling.
The best part is that owners of SQL Server 2005 and 2008 may already have this feature included with their existing license. The features available may vary depending on the version and license model of SQL Server.