“How to…” is quite a generic title for a post so no doubt you will fill in the blanks yourself. And think of something nice… only for me to disappoint you, because the “How to…” I’m focusing on is… “How to build a good report”.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that building a report is not that hard… and actually the definition of a report is the hardest part. So to create a report – instead of just starting to build – you first need to think about a few important steps.
- Determine what information you need and who needs it
- Start building the report with selecting the data
- Manipulate the data (add calculations or other parameters)
- Create a final layout and broadcast it to your audience
The most important one of these is the first one, because based on the answer the following can be assessed. To determine which information you need you must think at several sub questions like:
- What is the exact goal of the report, is it a simple overview, detailed overview with calculations, or an in-depth view of performance per, let’s say, assignment group;
- Number of Incidents per Assignment Group, Category and Priority
- Who needs the information (management, a customer or is it for someone with in depth knowledge);
- How do they expect to receive the report (report with refresh possibility, PDF, Excel or HTML)
- How often should the report be broadcast (once, every day, weekly)
- Every Monday morning at 8:00 am
Based on those answers you can start determining the source for you data, the answer on question 2. When you are using SMI Suite, and yeah you should, the data will be available through several complete universes. Right now I’m taking the Incident process as an example so we need to select the Incident universe to get the data.
Once you’ve selected the objects you want to report on, that’s it… Business Objects will provide you with a default report with a tabular overview of the selected data.
Then the last part kicks in, time to create some calculations like averages, sums, counts or percentages, and maybe create some variables that represent data in a more “jip en janneke taal” [Ed: this Dutch idiom translates to "in layman's terms", but it's cute so I didn't want to edit it out entirely]. I will add an percentage of the total number per category and priority shown per Assignment group.
Finally create the final layout and it can look like this. Because it is for the management I have decided to give exceptional high percentages a red color and “in the danger” percentages an orange color. In this case they can see at a glance the status and the possible issues.
Finally you can set up a scheduler, part of Business Objects, and publish the report in the desired format.
If you don’t think a report over and start building without thinking you will see that a lot of work is lost in adjusting everything. So keep this list to guide you through the process or if you have a better guide please share!
In the next blog I will CHANGE the subject! You’re a real Sherlock if you know the subject, so surprise me!