Approaching a Reporting or Analytics Project

Ever find yourself wondering why you are not extracting more insights from your database? One of the biggest strengths of any CRM should be its reporting and insights capabilities—but reporting tools are often not used to their full potential due to inconsistent data or the time and focus required to unlock that power. Great reporting and insight from any system drives better adoption, which in turn results in users constantly enriching and leveraging the data in that system.

This means that what may begin as a reporting project can quickly turn into a transformation project. Drawing insight from high-quality, consistent data is incredibly powerful and worthwile, but very few transformation projects are fully planned upfront and executed perfectly; they’re iterative processes.

If you simply want to extract a list of records that meet certain criteria, this may not actually require a report and could be achieved with a search or a filtered view. If all you need is a list of assignments that have unbilled billing events or a list of all people you have placed, speak to your vendor’s support team. You should be able to achieve this via global views of these records or by querying the system, which should not need a report.

Reporting Challenges

We know that not everyone in Executive Search is a data mining expert, nor wants to be, which means that self-service isn’t always an option for reporting projects. In addition, because users can customise their workflow, there can be a variety of ways across our customer base that the same thing is tracked. Not having a forced workflow brings huge benefits in User adoption, but the consequence is that “out of the box” reporting solutions are more difficult to implement.

With so many varying factors, it can often be difficult to predict the cost of a reporting project. Users who want to request a report should keep the following in mind:

  • Data Clarity: A worst-case scenario when developing reports is receiving a report that doesn’t tell you the information you were hoping for. Make sure you have clearly defined the problem you are trying to solve and fully scoped out your reporting needs in order to ensure that the data will tell you what you need.
  • Data Consistency: The consistency of data in your source is more important than anything else if you are looking to draw meaningful insight. Make sure you spend time checking consistency ahead of the project and fully articulate your required data source and format in your request so that it provides the insight you’d like to report on.
  • Data Translation: You may want to build a Dashboard or visualise the data in your reports. Mockups and clear descriptions of the visualisations you have in mind are a critical factor in creating a great user experience for any reports.
  • Data Lift: If you’re new to reporting, the urge to request enormous amounts of data at your first attempt can be tempting, but this often proves confusing for everyone involved. Users may get overwhelmed trying to dig through the data to unearth insights and consumers of the insights may struggle to interpret them.

It can be difficult to conceptualise your data needs, but the above factors all need to be taken into account when making a data request in order to accurately capture the insights you would like to extract for your business.

The more work you do ahead of engaging a team to develop Reports or Dashboards, the more defined and accurate the scope for that project becomes. This removes the challenges, much of the associated cost, and often results in a quicker conclusion of your project.

Our Reporting Advice

  • Start with simple, easy to understand concepts and iterate slowly
  • Begin with extracts of data that allow you to audit the quality of data and fix processes and data quality before investing heavily in visualising that data
  • Be sure that what you are asking for will actually be useful
  • Prove that your first iterations have been helpful before adding complexity
  • Seek help on processes if you have a specific reporting output in mind as there can often be a simpler way to do things

How Invenias Can Help with Reporting

  • Product: We have already deployed multiple reporting tools so that you have access to the right tool for the right job. An add-on in Excel, a Web-based analytics tool and a text-based reporting tool for client-facing reports combine to give a great suite of tools. In addition, the Dashboard tab in all the main Records now includes some visualisations as a high-level summary of the content of that Record.
  • Support: We are focusing resources on our Support team in order to better handle your reporting questions.
  • Standard Dashboards and Reports: By the end of May 2020 we will be deploying an improved suite of simple dashboards through our Analytics tool and Progress Reports through our Reporting tool that will be available to all users with access to the relevant products.
  • Non-Standard Dashboards: We are always adding to our library of Dashboards for customers who have invested in this feature. In May we will make this library available.
  • Custom Dashboards: By focusing our Product and the efforts of our support team on some of the more common use cases for reports, we will better be able to service customers who have bespoke requirements for custom projects.

Upcoming Webinars

We will be pulling together a series of webinars to discuss some of the topics raised in this post, so please check back and review our Events page where we will post details of those sessions once we have confirmed when they’ll be. You can also sign up for our distribution list to receive notifications about any upcoming events.