Executive Summary

  • This is the Brightwork Research & Analysis software rating series.
  • We rate both the software and estimate the risk of implementing each application.

MUFI Rating & Risk for SAP Crystal Reports

MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability

Vendor: SAP (Select For Vendor Profile)


Crystal Reports is the small market solution offered by SAP through its acquisition of Business Objects, which in turn acquired Crystal Reports in 2004. Crystal Reports began as an independent company in 1991.

Application Detail

This application is well regarded for its ability to pull from any data source, but the way the Crystal Reports has redundant data connection settings illustrates that this area of the application could be cleaned up. It merely becomes challenging to keep the various data connections straight, and this is both a quality and development productivity issue.

Even though Crystal Reports has been owned by SAP since 2007, Crystal Reports still looks and feels surprisingly modern considering the fact it has not received a minor development since its acquisition. This is true far more so than with Business Object, which is at this point is showing it age.

Within the BI community Crystal has a bit of a stodgy reputation, however, when looked at concerning other newer BI Light applications, Crystal Reports was ahead of its time. It provided relatively self-serve BI combined with the ability to easily read multiple data sources (although not to change the data sources as is explained in the fourth bullet point below).

A long-term issue with Crystal Reports is that it has some idiosyncrasies that make it for low development productivity. Some of the most commonly sighted issues are listed below:

  1. Manual Rework: Individual fields require too much manual intervention.
  2. Formatting Issues: Reports that are created differ in their formatting. This means report developers have to check formatting options between reports continually, and this is because even at this late date Crystal Reports does not have WYSIWYG report editor. Another issue is that too often when there is a reporting error, there is no error message, and this inhibits effective troubleshooting.
  3. Error Handling: Reports will work fine for some time and come to be relied upon by some users, and then will simple cease working. The time to get the reports back up is lengthy because the report developer themselves is not able to determine precisely what went wrong due to the limited Error handling capabilities in Crystal Reports.
  4. Data Source Hardcoding: Crystal Reports is consistently marked poorly for its confusing data connection settings, in addition to the fact that once set, Crystal Reports has a strong tendency to maintain the initial data source setting, even after it has been changed.

SAP Crystal Reports Introductory Series_ The Report Wizard - YouTube

Reports like this are dated compared to what can be had from the younger and nimbler BI software vendors. A promotional video for Crystal Reports states that one can create visually stunning reports using Crystal Reports, and they use this report as evidence of this fact. Except, but modern standards this is not stunning. If SAP would like to see a remarkable report, see the MicroStrategy report below.

Crystal Reports are often justified by being a low-cost option. Per-user licenses are the lowest of any of the applications in the BI space. However, due to the low level of productivity of Crystal Reports, this low purchase price should not tantalize or confuse buyers, yet sometimes this occurs. In fact, the overall enterprise software market is heavily focused on the initial purchase price, which ordinarily is a very bad way to make purchasing decisions as the software price averages 10% of the overall TCO for a typical enterprise application.

However, it is a particularly poor approach when analyzing Crystal Reports as we the application’s software cost tends to be roughly 1 to 2% of the TCO — the only other applications which approach this are open source. In fact, the cost differential is so high with Crystal Reports that SAP may as wall give the software away for free. There are apparently better applications on the market that do what Crystal does, but not at the initial purchase price of Crystal Reports. However, even with its low purchase price, Crystal Reports is still not the TCO cost leader among BI Light applications. Because of the issues that were listed previously, Crystal Reports does not scale well – that is as it grows it requires consistent increments of input.

One upside is that it is that because the application has been around for so long that it is easy to find Crystal Reports resources, independent consultants and so on. The other applications in the BI Light category are proliferating, and resource availability is an issue. Regarding available documentation, one argument proposed by Crystal Reports proponents is that the application has a great deal of documentation written for it, including many books. That is true. However, in the BI Light category, all of the options available have quite a bit of material written for them.

A final consideration should be the buyer’s time and investment into Crystal Reports – which is not likely to bring the ROI of either QlikView or Tableau. These other applications in this category are not only superior currently, but we predict will develop to a much greater degree than Crystal Reports.

MUFI Scores

All scores out of a possible 10.

MUFI Scores

Search for the vendor in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table. Shortening Key: 
  • Ma. = Maintainability
  • Us. = Usability
  • Fu. = Functionality
  • Im. = Implementability
Average Score for Big ERP5. ERP
Average Score for CRM6.
Average Score for Small and Medium ERP8.386.78.5Small and Medium ERP
Average Score for Finance8.88.888.8Finance
Average Score for Demand Planning7.67.277.1Demand Planning
Average Score for Supply Planning6.76.976.8Supply Planning
Average Score for Production Planning6.86.976.9Production Planning
Average Score for BI Heavy5. Heavy
Average Score for PLM77.26.87.3PLM
Average Score for BI Light7.78.798.3BI Light
Arena Solutions Arena PLM 10101010PLM
AspenTech AspenOne48107Production Planning
Birst 88.5108BI Light
ERPNext10107.510Small and Medium ERP
Delfoi Planner866.57Production Planning
Demand Works Smoothie SP910710Supply Planning
Hamilton Grant RM1098.59PLM
IBM Cognos2.731.53BI Heavy
Infor Epiphany7865CRM
Infor Lawson8767Big ERP
Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions9959Finance
JDA DM97.588Demand Planning
Microsoft Dynamics CRM2322CRM
NetSuite CRM6433CRM
Netsuite OneWorld7788Big ERP
Oracle BI4436BI Heavy
Oracle CRM On Demand4535CRM
Oracle Demantra533.54.5Demand Planning
Oracle JD Edwards World4136Big ERP
Oracle RightNow6745CRM
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS10101010Production Planning
Preactor8737Production Planning
QlikTech QlikView99109BI Light
Rootstock9899Small and Medium ERP
Sage X38878Big ERP
Salesforce Enterprise88.597.5CRM
SAP APO DP3432Demand Planning
SAP APO PP/DS2243Production Planning
SAP APO SNP3484Supply Planning
SAP BI/BW1.5242BI Heavy
SAP Business Objects32.573BI Heavy
SAP ECC336.53Big ERP
SAP SmartOps4475.5Supply Planning
SAS BI6.5796BI Heavy
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting7897Demand Planning
Tableau (BI)9101010BI Light
Tableau (Forecasting)10859Demand Planning
Teradata86.39.76BI Heavy
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)7897Demand Planning
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)56107Supply Planning

Vendor and Application Risk

Buyers of Crystal Reports have a low risk concerning access to good value consultants (although not through SAP), but the buyer pays the price regarding implement ability and maintainability. This is why even at a meager price; Crystal Reports is not the low-cost leader for BI Light applications.

Likelihood of Implementation Success

This accounts for both the application and vendor-specific risk. In our formula, the total implementation risk is application + vendor + buyer risk. The buyer specific risk could increase or decrease this overall likelihood and adjust the values that you see below.

Likelihood of Application Implementation Success and Failure

Estimates are for a typical project. A specific implementation requires details from the project to make a project-specific estimate.

Search for the application in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table.
ApplicationProb of Implementation SuccessProb of Implementation Failure
SAP Smartops0.390.61
NetSuite CRM0.460.54
Sugar CRM0.620.48
Base CRM0.910.09
SAP CRM0.350.65
Salesforce Enterprise0.720.28
QlikTech QlikView0.820.18
Tableau (BI)0.980.02
SAP Crystal Reports0.460.54
SAS BI0.760.24
Oracle BI0.350.65
IBM Cognos0.230.77
Infor Epiphany0.580.42
Microsoft Dynamics CRM0.260.74
Oracle RightNow CRM0.410.59
Oracle CRM On Demand0.360.64
SAP Business Objects0.320.68
SAP BI/BW0.250.75
SAP PLM0.290.71
Hamilton Grant RM0.890.11
Arena Solutions0.960.04
Delfoi Planner0.70.3
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS0.960.04
AspenTech AspenOne0.550.45
SAP APO PP/DS0.270.73
Demand Works Smoothie SP0.930.07
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)0.820.18
Demand Works Smoothie0.960.04
Tableau (Forecasting)0.90.1
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting0.820.18
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)0.860.14
JDA DM0.570.43
Oracle Demantra0.330.67
SAP APO DP0.280.72
Intuit QB Enterprise0.80.2
Microsoft Dynamics AX0.40.6
SAP Business One0.490.51
Sage X30.620.38
Infor Lawson0.580.42
Epicor ERP0.40.6
Oracle JD Edwards World0.310.69
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne0.360.64
SAP ERP ECC/R/30.320.68
NetSuite OneWorld0.650.35

Risk Definition

See this link for more on our categorizations of risk. We also offer a Buyer Specific Risk Estimation as a service for those that want a comprehensive analysis.

Risk Management Approach

The main risk with respect to Crystal Reports is the relatively low productivity of the application. This generally must be mitigated by staffing the project and the maintenance of a Crystal Reports project towards the heavier side for a BI Light implementation. We address this adjustment in our Project Planning Package for SAP Crystal Reports.

Finished With Your Analysis?

To go back to the Software Selection Package page for the BI Light software category. Or goto this link to see other analytical products for SAP Crystal Reports.