InetSoft Webinar: Best Practices for Reporting

This is the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "Best Practices for Reporting." The speaker is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

I would like to welcome you to today’s webinar titled ‘Best Practices for Reporting.’ It will last approximately 60 minutes including a Q&A session. So make sure to submit your questions in advance using the questions feature of the webinar software. It's a pleasure to speak to you folks in the business analyst community.

What I have done for this presentation is did a little bit of research, little bit of surveying in the business analyst field to determine some best practices, perhaps best practices that can be incorporated into your workflows particularly during the times where you need to gather requirements and move your way into the workflow of developing reports for those constituents.

This presentation, as mentioned, will last about an hour. Let me go ahead and give you an agenda. What we will do first is we will walk through some best practices. I will talk you through what I feel are best practices in the different stages of the reporting lifecycle. What we will then do is move into talking about some challenges. I actually have a polling question for you about 60% through this webinar so look forward to that.

And then towards the tail-end of this webinar we are actually going to look at a solution from InetSoft, and how it can be used to solve some of the challenges that business analysts face when they are dealing with reporting tasks. And then we will summarize some of the benefits of this solution and then open up the forum for some questions and answers.

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Speaking specifically to the agenda what I wanted to do was sort of break apart the lifecycle that a business analyst goes through and in my own research and findings I found that a big component of an analyst’s time is spent gathering stakeholder requirements. So we are going to talk about what's involved there and where the best practices can be incorporated.

What we will also talk about is formatting or making the report as easy to read or easy to comprehend as possible. In this section we will also talk about conditional formatting and what I feel are some best practices in using conditional formatting when designing reports.

We also have a section on templates and reusability. There are number of ways to do reporting for the business user, but ultimately there are some common denominators. There are components, elements, and attributes that can be reused to improve the efficiency of your reporting task. So we will talk about that.

Query building obviously is the essence of reporting. You got to have extract this data from some source. And typically you are using an SQL or an SQL script or an SQL query to gather that data. So, mining the data for the right information and being able to correlate that data so you have the right dataset is important.

But there are some best practices that can be looked at here, some things to avoid. We will talk about some of the conventional things that I think you should avoid or you should perhaps incorporate when performing query building tasks. And then we will move off into functional considerations.

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Obviously the report has to do something for that end user. It should be flexible, it should be feature-rich. However, it shouldn’t be overbearing. So we will talk about the functional considerations that go into a report. How much control do you want to give your user? How many options do you want to give them in the setup of that report? And then moving on to information design, this is where we will actually look at how the information can be laid out.

So this is not so much the data design. This is actually going to be the design of the information as it appears on the report. So we will talk about some of the things that you can incorporate there in terms of best practices. And I guess navigating the report goes hand in hand with information design. So once the report’s been published what's the most effective ways for users to navigate that information? We will talk about that.