Reporting is an essential, but perhaps sometimes boring, part of any business. The thought of sifting through data and doing complex calculations can make even the best of us break out in a cold sweat, but nevertheless, it needs to be done.
Reporting is vital to so many different parts of the business, so you can’t simply put it on the back burner just because it’s not the most exciting task. Instead, why not make reporting as easy as possible and something you actually look forward to!
You may not believe me, but a little forethought and research can help make your reporting process painless and not something you dread.
Get the Right Data
The first point to making your reports more interesting is to focus on the information you need. Think about what you actually need to report on and get really granular on those aspects. You don’t need to report on anything and everything because you can.
There is no more significant time-waster when it comes to reporting than doing reports just for the sake of it. Who wants to read mountains of reports that don’t really tell them anything important? That’s where boredom can creep in, and pretty soon people will stop reading the reports you send them because they are unable to separate the vital information from everything else.
You need to think about what business question you are trying to answer every time you make a report, which will ensure that every report you create is an essential one. If you’re trying to answer more than one question with a report, you may want to take a step back and decide how you’re going to split the questions up. Then you can create a report focused on each business question so that you won’t muddle up your data. If reports are too confusing to read, people will quickly lose interest.
You want to create useful reports that focus on specific data every time, so it’s worth putting in the extra effort to get the answers you need.
If you want to make your reports interesting, you need to focus on the data that people are interested in and need to make quality business decisions.
Know Your Audience
The data you’ll want to include in a report may be different depending on who you are producing the report for. Is it for an entire team, your board, or an individual? All these different audiences will need different overviews of different parts of the business and will only be interested in specific selections of data.
If you’re producing a report for a specific audience, ask them what they want to be included before you create the report, so everyone gets a report that’s relevant to them and their interests. When it comes to sales, your Accounting team will be interested in how much profit you’re making and the costs, whereas your instructors may be interested in how many trainees are in their classes. It’s basically the same sections of data both audiences are looking at, but they’re focusing on different aspects. Make it easy for your audiences and filter the data for them, so they immediately see the data they need and care about.
Use the Data
Reporting is all well and good, but what’s the point if you’re not going to do anything with the data? If people think they’re supposed to be spending a lot of time creating and reading reports just to get an overview of the numbers and nothing else, they may stop reading them after a little while.
For example, you may want to produce a report on how many employees are taking a particular training course. If your training department offers offsite training, this may highlight the fact that only 20 employees have been attending this training, but it is booked into a venue that can seat 40 people. By relocating this training to a smaller venue, this could save the business a lot of money. If a report highlights an important issue like this once, it’s more likely that the audience for that report will start looking for things like this to focus on in the future.
If this small detail had been buried in a huge report that takes hours to read, it could have gone unnoticed for a prolonged period, effectively wasting the company money for no reason!
When looking at reports and effectively using the data becomes a regular task everyone within your business gets used to doing, it encourages reports to become part of your company culture, as opposed to dull emails that people dread receiving.
Reading boring reports is one thing, but what about the person who has to create those reports? Trudging through data every month doesn’t sound like the most fun in the world, and if you’re not excited to create those reports, how can you expect anyone to be excited about reading them?
The best way to make creating reports enjoyable is to make it easy! The data itself isn’t boring - it’s vital, but the whole reporting process can be a bit dull. Here at Administrate, we’re all about making reporting as easy as possible, and that’s why our reporting engine lets you create automated and customized reports to get exactly the data you need when you need it. Use our reporting engine to cut through all the facts and figures and get straight to the information you really need.
If you have to create a lot of different reports, chances are they all need to be done at different times. Whether they need to be done weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, it can be hard to keep track of what reports need created and when. Administrate gives you the ability to have reports automatically generated precisely when you need them, repeated when they need to be, and automatically sent to everyone who needs to see them.
Our reporting engine also gives you the ability to construct, create, and save reports quickly and easily from any of the data you have saved within the Administrate platform. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping the data you want to include, and then we do all the hard work for you! Having all the data you need right at your fingertips within the Administrate system also means you don’t have to waste time collating data from different sources from all over the company.
The University of York recognizes how important this is because it can be challenging to merge lots of data from different sources in a useful way. Amanda Selvaratnam, Head of Corporate Training, commented:
"It’s been very hard to accurately bring together all the various bits of information from across the university on an annual basis. The wonderful thing about Administrate is it brings together the client information, the course information, and the financial information into one reporting system, which means we now know what’s going on across the institution."
All the reports you create within Administrate will also be saved for future use, so you don’t have to worry about trawling through loads of previous reports to find the one you need. You can even export them to Excel or CSV files.
Reporting may never be your favorite thing in the world to do, but hopefully, we’ve shown you there are ways to stop it being thought of as a tedious task! As with a lot of things, it’s all about planning and making sure you’re putting the effort in where it’s needed.
Then you can get to the exciting part: studying and using the data produced to highlight things that need to be worked on to improve your business!
If you are interested in getting a better overview of our reporting engine, why not check out Account Manager Gilles Bell delivering a demo of the system at LITE 2016.
Create the Perfect Reports with our Free Download!
If you're not using the Administrate Reporting Engine to create your reports, we thought you might like some tips on creating the perfect reports yourself. We've compiled the 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Reports so you can produce amazing reports every time.