Business Reporting · Data Analysis · Reporting

Reporting for Business

There’s a great deal of chatter that abounds about reporting, and too many sites for me to identify as to which ones may be best for you to visit.  There are hundreds of options available and the sites out there can be varied in their content.  Many are sales-oriented and should be avoided.  To get a list together have a tech-savvy person and a business person to review the major products and then look at them in more detail – this is not a small job but, if looking to invest a great deal of money in a product, don’t leave it to people who don’t understand the end-to-end process of what is involved.

There are all sorts of processes out there to decide what your path and direction should be for deciding on a reporting solution.  The bottom line is that if you let the business side of the organisation decide the best way to go, “you will end up with a solution that will never work and will have to go back to the drawing board”.  If you let the technical side of the organisation decide the best way to go, “you will end up with a solution that will never work and will have to go back to the drawing board”.  Sorry, but this is worth repeating.

Both the above approaches will involve carrying out a continuous review of the solution to get it right.  This seems to be the approach that most organisations take, thereby giving mediocre business analysts a job for life – the good business analysts resolve a problem and move on and don’t want to become embroiled in any process that would need a continuous review of the delivered product ad infinitum.

Don’t get me wrong – any business process needs to include an on-going process review but, when you’re set a task to be completed and it’s nowhere near the needs of the organisation, cut and run.  Otherwise, you are throwing money at a bad solution that should be dropped but hasn’t been, because the lead(s) couldn’t find their nose (replaced by me – see reference) with both hands.

There is a simple solution.  Get someone who knows a bit about the technical side from the business and get someone who knows a bit about the business from the technical side and let them start talking – the most important thing is communication between teams within your organisation.  All you do is get two people who want to do their best for the organisation and get them talking.  It’s really not that difficult – read as many papers as you want and it’s just a lot of turgid words around this.  I came from the other side of the desk – Finance- and have (mostly) had great relationships with people like that, but that’s another story for another day.  It’s always tough at the start because you are both coming from completely different directions to try and achieve the same solution.  It’s “us and them”, then “can’t you do better”, then “I’m sure we can do better” and, finally, “I think we got it”.  Then it works – and it is then that you realise why you love your job.

Look at the last paragraph – you don’t find the job specifications for that.  It is not inherent, it is not innate – it has to be learnt with experience.  I like the expression that “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”.  It’s by Epictetus and I had to look it up but it is sage advice.  If we listen, we learn.  Even running a little team like one designing a report, we can do it by listening and talking with each other – communication again!

Reports are what the leaders of an organisation want.  They don’t have time to analyse and digest all the data so give them what they want.  Clear, concise reporting – I would also add correct (or exact) data, and that is where my expertise lies.

To be continued…..

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