If you work in a finance team within a construction business, it’s likely your main goals are to reduce risk, improve profitability, and maintain exceptional levels of compliance. To fulfil these needs, you need direct access to accurate data from your ERP, and the ability to quickly create drillable Excel reports for GL and other finance requirements.
Many finance teams in the construction industry use Viewpoint as their ERP, and although it is great for most of your business processes, the default Crystal Reports tool is unlikely to suit your needs for reporting. To customize an existing report or to create a new one with Crystal Reports, you need technical expertise. If you don’t have these skills readily available in-house, this can become an expensive and drawn-out process.
That’s why many finance teams resort to dumping data into Excel and formatting them there to meet their reporting needs. But manually creating reports in this way can be time consuming and labor intensive. Did you know that the reports your team currently may be spending hours or even days to produce can be automated and delivered in a matter of minutes with reporting software built for your needs? With the right tools, you are better able to answer those pressing questions from your executives and customers, while having the time to perform more of a strategic role in your business.
But don’t just take our word for it. During a webinar for Viewpoint customers in September 2020, we polled the audience, and this is what they told us about their current reporting situation:
When your reporting platform doesn’t meet your needs
- Thirty-seven percent of Viewpoint customers told us they are still manually dumping data into Excel and manipulating them from there
While working from Excel helps finance teams to gain some control over their reporting, this approach is not without its downsides. For one, it’s time consuming to pull the data as you’ll likely have to reformat them for analysis and cross check for errors. And then once you have the data in Excel, where you want them, they are static and will soon become outdated.
As more people across your organization start to dump data and generate reports from them, there is a risk that you no longer have a single source of truth for making decisions. All this leads to inaccurate data, frustration, and confusion.
- Thirty percent of Viewpoint customers are using Crystal Reports
Although Crystal Reports comes free with Viewpoint, it isn’t the most suitable reporting platform for finance. Despite having 1,300 standard reports, none of them are tailored to your organization, so it’s almost certain that you’ll have to adapt the available reports in some way. If you rely on IT or external consultants to make these changes (adding columns, adding data sources, etc.), then this can mean delays that eat into the time you have available for analysis.
You want a platform that automatically refreshes your reports with the latest Viewpoint data at the push of a button. This means you always have access to the latest data, whenever you need them. Not only can this help with more accurate tracking of historical job costs (therefore aiding future estimations), but also helps your finance team oversee financial health, profitability, and other operational expenses more efficiently.
With better access to data and deeper insights into those data, you are in a strong position to provide information and feedback to your executives, and to play a more active role in your company’s decision making.
- Twelve percent of Viewpoint customers are outsourcing report creation
Whether you are using Crystal Reports or another reporting tool to make sense of your Viewpoint data, if you don’t have the technical skills in-house to support that tool, then this will force you to turn to an external supplier for help. This isn’t ideal. Not only is this time consuming, because you must brief the suppliers on what you want and then wait for them to create the reports for you, but also can cause delays and errors due to all-too-common miscommunication. Every time you need a new report or to change an existing report, you are spending additional money on this outsourcing, which is not the best way to fix your reporting problem.
The reality is outsourcing report creation only cures the symptoms of your reporting platform not suiting your business needs, rather than curing the source of the issue, which would be to find a reporting platform that works for you.
Let your finance team take control
If you feel that your existing Viewpoint reporting platform doesn’t fit your business’ needs, there’s a simple fix. Spreadsheet Server allows you to create fully customizable reports, while starting and staying within Excel.
Spreadsheet Server provides fast access to the data you need in Viewpoint and substantially reduces the number of clicks and the effort you would need to go through to do the same thing in Crystal Reports. With Spreadsheet Server, you can combine and retrieve data from any Viewpoint module into Excel. Once you have created a report, you can refresh and update it automatically, so you no longer need to recreate reports from scratch every time. This keeps the data you’re working with fresh and removes the chance for errors that are so prevalent with manual processes.
With Spreadsheet Server, you can quickly create cash flow and profitability reports. You can compare payroll, business expenses, and material costs against previous years to analyze changes. Review costs over periods of time to measure performance. You can create ad hoc reports on project costs and income, and drill down for the information that you need to make good business decisions. In fact, all Spreadsheet Server reports are drillable, allowing you to quickly navigate from summary data into detailed transactions, to investigate variances or answer your follow-up questions.
Viewpoint previously used a reporting tool called Finance Manager, which they have since stopped supporting. We have been working with Viewpoint to help them move their legacy Finance Manager customers over to Spreadsheet Server. Following this, we now have an increasing list of over 1,000 Viewpoint customers who have moved over to Spreadsheet Server, either on upgraded or free silver licenses.
Analyzing your ERP data and producing reports with accurate data that everyone trusts ensures your company executives have the information they need to keep your projects and your company’s performance on track. Freeing up your time so you can focus more on value-added analysis helps you to have a voice in that process, too.
If fully customizable reports aren’t your bag
With continuous work coming in, and ad hoc questions that need urgent answers, you might not always have time to create your own reports.
Spreadsheet Server has you covered for this situation, too. Unlike lengthy BI tool installs and upgrades, Spreadsheet Server installs in hours. Its intuitive user interface, easy data integration, and self-help systems enable business users to get up to speed fast and answer their own questions, without waiting on IT.
Spreadsheet Server also comes with a range of prebuilt reports that are better suited to the needs of finance teams than the statement-like reports available in Crystal Reports.
- The GL Report Workbook includes 12 General Ledger reports to cover common financial reporting needs. This is available to all Viewpoint Vista users who have Spreadsheet Server.
- Prebuilt Operational Reports are another option. We are constantly developing new operational reports to address your wider reporting needs and to complement the GL Report Workbook, all of which we make available to you with Spreadsheet Server.
On top of that, there are hundreds of queries available out of the box.
- Viewpoint Vista users’ queries are shared in a library called Query Exchange inside Spreadsheet Server. Within this library, you can access over 200 Vista queries built by peers in your industry, so you can leverage these prebuilt queries and change their parameters to suit your needs.
- Within Spreadsheet Server, you can quickly adapt your peers’ queries to fit your needs, enabling you to run reports in an instant that would previously have taken you hours to build from scratch. This means you have more time to analyze the data you’re looking for, rather than wasting time on the creation of the report.
To see how Spreadsheet Server help construction businesses save time and frustration when they are creating and analyzing reports, check out this live demo showing how to automate your payroll and benefits reporting: