Summary: Enterprise data is set to explode over the next 5 years. To truly capitalize on this data, companies need web reporting software that lets them easily convert data into meaningful management information. But, with all of the available reporting options, what should you look for?
As businesses generate more data than ever before, reporting becomes increasingly important. You must give your decision-makers and employees a simple way to pull that data out of your systems and turn it into meaningful management information–without going through the IT department.
To do this, you need a reporting tool. But, not all reporting tools are created equal. Don’t assume that every one comes with the same options.
What should you look for in a good business reporting tool? First and foremost, any good reporting solution should generate web-based reports. Why? Non-web based reports are only accessible on the computer where they’re stored. Web-based reports are accessible via any web-enabled device, such as PCs, tablets, or smartphones.
Beyond that, enterprise-class reporting tools must give you a few, essential reporting options. Like what? Here’s a list of 6 essential reporting types you can’t live without:
An ad-hoc report lets anyone create and distribute reports on the fly. The user selects the data elements he/she needs, and then either exports the report into a format of their choosing or emails it directly from the web browser.
A ranking report creates variable rankings, across multiple dimensions, while specifying various selection criteria at run-time.
What does that mean? Well, suppose you wanted to see your top 10 products over the last year. Or, suppose you wanted to see which regions performed the worst over the last 5 years. The ranking report is a critical component to a good reporting solution because it lets users quickly compile reports showing the best and worst of any aspect of their business.
Web Pivot Tables
Pivot tables are powerful interactive reports that let users view data from multiple perspectives. It lets users quickly rearrange fields and see their data from any angle they desire. Pivot tables are great for analyzing data, making comparisons, and discovering trends.
Click the link above to try a pivot table for yourself. Drag and drop a few of the options into the horizontal or vertical headings and watch the table refresh automatically.
An interactive report displays as much or as little data as the user desires, and lets users analyze the data however they wish. It starts at a high level view and lets users drill down as far as they want. It’s an incredibly useful tool because it lets users view data in any way they can imagine. The interactive report is essential reporting option because of the ease of use and flexibility it brings in analyzing data.
A dashboard contains easy-to-read graphs which provide a real-time view of the business in one place. Each dashboard can be customized to the executive’s duties and areas of interest. For example, a CEO might want to see a few different graphs displaying revenue over the past year, month, and week. The customer service manager might want to see graphs displaying average time needed to resolve issues. Dashboards are essential because they can alert a company to problems before they get out of hand.
Drill-down reports give users a high-level overview of their data and lets them drill down into more information as needed. Drill-down reports also provide interactive charts and graphs, which let users drill down to more information when they click on graph values.
While choosing the perfect reporting solution for your company depends largely on your needs, certain types of reports are “must-haves” in any reporting tool. Of course, if you’d like to add anything to this list, please share your thoughts in the comments!