In the final level of the EXO reporting series we will examine different types of reports.
Looking back at the reports written and modified for clients over the past few years, I started noticing a pattern of how these reports are created and used. There seem to be three types of reports and best tools to deliver them. By classifying the task at hand as one of the below, report writers may narrow their choice of technology and deliver a better outcome for the users.
- Such reports are generated and used by company staff with immediate access to MYOB EXO system (logged in users).
- Purpose of those reports is very specific and closely linked to user interactions with the system. Customer lists, order lists, aged balances, stock on hand, etc.
- Reports are created from the system and used to drive the system or daily work.
The best tool for such reports is Clarity. Clarity has the advantage of being the native report writer of MYOB EXO. It delivers reports to paper or “paper-like” formats (PDF) like a charm.
Clarity is relatively easy to learn and use and does not require programming background. MYOB EXO comes with a large number of sample reports, which are fully working prototypes. Learning from or re-using sample reports is a very cost effective exercise.
Refer to Level 2: Clarity Report Writer for more details.
Finance teams may also be interested in building custom GL reports. Level 3: GL Report Writer walks through the key features of this tool.
- These reports target audiences much broader than common users of MYOB EXO. Think management and directors, all staff, external service providers or key customers.
- Purpose of those reports is to provide information “self-service” to key users. They may have access to information, but not necessarily create it (i.e. they may never log into MYOB EXO). The ideal way of providing such access is intranet or web.
- Examples may include departmental profit and loss statements for top management, summary sales reports for sales representatives on the road, KPI reports for staff members, selective product availability or transaction history for key customers.
In MYOB EXO world, I would nominate SQL Server Reporting Services as the best tool to deliver stakeholder reports. By its nature SSRS allows intranet access to reports and email subscriptions. Reports are likely to be summarised and heavily customised for each target application. High availability and enterprise level security is ensured through the proven Microsoft platform.
We have discussed SSRS in Level 5: SSRS and 3rd party report writers
Unlike previous categories, analytical reports require intense user interaction with data. Users of such reports are often subject matter experts: CFOs, managers or skilled analysts.
The problem they try to solve is hard to define and they tend to explore and analyse data step by step. Such problem is not defined upfront (otherwise they would simply run a summary report and live happily ever after), so they will find the question and the answer at the end of the journey. A classic examples is investigation of profitability: what products / sales people / territories / customers / days of the month bring the company most profits.
Since user needs interaction with data I would nominate Microsoft Excel and its Pivot tables as the tool of choice. Power Pivot may assist with large data crunching. However, if your organisation is data driven and you have a dedicated analyst, you may consider creating a business intelligence solution.
I hope you enjoyed reading this Reporting series. I would love to hear your feedback. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know your thoughts.
Good luck with your reporting!