There’s been much discussion about ad hoc reporting, but few business users seem able to actually build a report themselves from scratch with today’s tools. Why is that?
In my experience, actually, most users can build reports from scratch, but it should never be the first step. Initially, users don’t have much of a comfort level with the data model or the tool. The best way to get them started is to create the initial five to ten reports for them and then show them how to customize these reports. Again, a five-minute video that they can return to later if needed is a great way to teach. If it takes more than five minutes to explain how to make a simple change to a report, your system is way too hard to use.
Once users are comfortable making the small changes they need on a day-to-day basis, they naturally start creating their own reports from scratch. They now both understand the tool and know where the data is. We’ve seen many cases where a dozen initial reports turn into hundreds of reports over the course of a year. In fact, IT is often shocked to find out how capable users really are if you just get them started with a good set of reports and some initial training.
Q & A with Sanjay Bhatia, CEO of Izenda, a company that offers integrated self-service reporting for the .NET platform. (As an OEM solution, it is integrated into hundreds of .NET applications with over 25,000 end users, including the U.S. Navy, WellPoint, BHP Billiton, JC Penny,the EPA, Volvo, and Gateway.)