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Dear aBI: Getting started with Crystal Reports

This is an entry in the ongoing Dear aBI series. To learn more, visit our wiki.

The Question

On Hold in Armenia asks:

     I’m learning Crystal Reports, I’ll be grateful if you help me.

That is a far, far broader question that we’d normally try to take on in Dear aBI, but I thought it might be worth discussing where to find information to help you get started in any SAP Business Intelligence tool.

The Answer

Fortunately, SAP provides you with a lot of training options.

The first is obviously SAP certified education. I’ve sat through some of the official training on various tools, and they do a pretty thorough job of getting you up to speed on the software. They can be on the expensive side, but you know you’ll get education delivered in a reliable way from a proven curriculum and you should be able to get up and run when you get back to your office. They also have online options available if you don’t have an authorized training center near you.

Another option for training is to get someone to customize training and materials for you. Typically you can find an SAP BusinessObjects partner locally familiar with the tool (and that has probably provided the formal training before) who would be willing to customize your training to your needs specifically. Don’t have anyone specifically to recommend in Armenia, but feel free to contact me if you’d like a name a little more United States-y.

Want something a little less formal? Conferences and user groups are another great way to get to know the tools (and, perhaps more importantly, to get to know the people who know them really, really well). Again, I can only speak first-hand about Making Sense of the 2011 BusinessObjects Conference Landscape, but I know SAPPHIRE and SAP TechEd will be combined in Madrid this year, and that’s probably a great opportunity to get to know about the products and get your hands on them all in one location.

Don’t have the money or the time for those options? There are a lot of free online video resources as well. Nic Smith shared some information on BI Tutorials (including a link to Official Product Tutorials – SAP BO BI Suite ). For Crystal specifically, you can also turn to some of the work done by the Reportapalooza experts last year. Also, what with it being 2011 and all, you can just hit up YouTube and see what comes back.

Like the idea of online, but not into video? Try blogs by folks like Dallas MarksDave Rathbun, and Michael Welter to learn more about BusinessObjects, or hit the SAP Community Network and the BOB forums for specific questions.

Fan of book learning? Try to hit up SAP Press or Amazon to find a good title.

Want to indulge a shameless plug of my own (free) podcast? Head on over to the Diversified Semantic Layer where we just talked about SAP education and certification.

Your Turn

I know we all have our favorite resources for learning a new tool. What’s yours?

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