Reports & Dashboards: One at a Time

By: | Category: ERP

The following question was asked at a recent BI conference: “I’ve been looking at Analytics software and noticed that some apps have just a few reports, some have a couple hundred, and others come with thousands. How many reports do I need?

The answer – delivered with a chuckle – was: “One . . . at a time.”

The speaker went on to say that there is no “right number”, because every business is different. Less sophisticated businesses often rely on fewer reports, while companies whose business is more fluid – affected by varying market conditions — often need much more sophisticated analyses.

Plus, it’s typical that as a business grows, so too grows their need for analytics. The business that’s satisfied with a handful of reports today may need dozens tomorrow.

The speaker then revealed his real answer: it’s not how many reports you need; it’s enabling users to get the reports they need when they need them. The best Analytics solutions offer a large “library” of pre-configured reports to choose from. Even though Analytics apps make report creation easy, most users don’t have time to create their own reports. For them, a library of reports is essential.

It’s a concept drawn from the brick-and-mortar libraries of old; if you wanted to learn more about a specific subject, you went to the biggest library you could find because they had the most books on that subject.

A large library of reports is particularly valued by IT staff who spend countless hours “getting info” for staffers. Although an expansive library might not have the precise report that a user is looking for, it’ll most likely have something close – a report template that is easily customized to the desired specs.

But remember . . . whether it’s books or reports, you still have to manage them. So – when looking into Analytics solutions, don’t just ask how many reports it has; ask how easy it is to deploy them . . . to connect them . . . to secure them . . . and what happens when there are system upgrades.

The bottom-line is that the number of pre-configured reports is a major differentiator among BI/Analytics solutions; they improve your ability to deliver the right report to the right person – when it’s needed the most.

Note: Content for this blog post was originally posted on May 11, 2022.