A critical part of effectively exploring your data, transforming it into actionable insights, and enhancing decision-making for your business is being empowered to slice and dice your data, and be less dependent on technical resources for new updates. Improved visibility into insights will enable you to get more out of them. And as the business users, you’re best placed to identify which of them most closely meet your organization’s needs.
Analytics reports are a vital part of this process. But one of the perennial obstacles to getting the best insights is the way that reports are shared, which can affect how relevant and how valuable the data is. This, in turn, affects the quality of the insights that you can unlock.
So, it stands to reason that improved access to reports, and their relevance, can hugely enhance the value of your data. Plus, more effectively governing the distribution of reports, levels of access to them and to different parts of data sets, can simultaneously reinforce their relevance and safeguard the use of your data. These factors can be influential in boosting the efficiency of your operations and your business performance.
Achieving this involves streamlining report management, providing you with more autonomy and control over the reports that you have access to, how and when you receive them, and what content you get. Similarly, business analysts need better control of when, how, and to whom they distribute reports, and what they send to different groups or individual users. Let’s look at some of the challenges that this process poses, and how you can overcome them.
What’s holding you back from efficient reporting?
Typically, business analysts have had to shoulder the responsibility of setting up and managing reports for every end user. They decide what content each of them receives, when and how often they get updates, and what level of access they have. All the users of a dashboard or the recipients of a report, get the report when the “owner” — the business analyst — decides it should be sent. Business users (end users) often aren’t able to request an individualized schedule or have reports tailored to them. Dashboards get shared among all users of that specific report, with no difference in content or timing.
Leaving the business analysts to manage this process is a lot of work and takes them away from their core functions. It also means that business users must rely on the analysts to make any changes to report settings, including unsubscribing where necessary, and they are dependent on the judgement of the analysts.
This is inefficient. First of all, there’s a bottleneck caused by end users waiting for report owners to create and distribute reports or make necessary changes. Secondly, these reports don’t precisely address the requirements of individual end users, because there’s too much management overhead to handle the individual subscription preferences of viewers at scale. Relevance suffers as users don’t necessarily get what they need, how they need it, and when they need it. They may get too much information, which they’re reluctant to wade through; too little information; or simply information that isn’t relevant, which renders any report useless. What follows is a decrease in user adoption, a reluctance to be data-driven, and ultimately a deterioration of decision-making within the business. All highly undesirable outcomes.
What developments in report management improve reporting?
Developments in report management deliver more control and precision to the way end users consume data and insights. They increase the efficiency of the way business analysts manage report distribution and scheduling. It’s all about governance.
Analysts no longer need to make all the decisions about reports and determine what goes to whom and when. That’s because end users can now unlock subscription settings so that they can choose when to receive specific reports and what to include in each one. You should look for an analytics platform that allows you to stipulate when a report or a dashboard should be emailed to you, at a time and frequency that fits in with your schedule. By applying data exploration filters, you should be able to customize each report with filtered values of your choice, so you get only the most relevant data for your specific needs in your own view of any dashboard. You should also be able to personalize the look and feel of each report according to your specifications and preferences, just like a business analyst does. Reports should then be embedded in an email or can be attached as a PDF report, and all of this can be done without assistance from a business analyst. Moreover, after all of this, if a report still doesn’t meet your needs, you should be able to unsubscribe with one click.
On top of all of this, the tool you choose should allow analysts to schedule report distribution at different times for different audiences. They should be able to push a business-critical report at a specific time; for example, if management wants to send a weekly sales tracker to all their retail store managers every Monday at 9 am. They should also be able to tailor the content that they distribute to end users, unsubscribe individuals or specified groups, and importantly, in an environment where data security is a concern, they should be able to easily disable or govern dashboard subscriptions that may contain sensitive data, so that only approved audiences can receive it.
What are the benefits?
For business analysts and data teams, there’s less burden to manage reporting, because end users can now refine their own report subscriptions. Bottlenecks decrease as the analysts no longer need to continually manage and make changes to each individual report subscription and scheduling. When they are involved, they can rapidly make changes across users at scale, thereby more closely satisfying the business users’ requests. Furthermore, they get more time back to focus on their more critical tasks for the business.
End users get more autonomy over analytics consumption, enabling them to leverage more contextually relevant insights that support their business processes. By putting more power into the hands of the business user, they can personalize exactly how and when they consume insights, the data they get is more relevant, workflows accelerate, and your business ultimately achieves faster time-to-insights. Plus, efficiency is improved, as resources aren’t getting wasted because recipients are no longer being inundated with reports that they don’t find valuable or relevant.
A Win-Win for All
As businesses handle an increasing volume and complexity of data, it becomes more and more imperative that BI and analytics platforms can simplify the analytics process and customize dashboards. These developments in report management make data consumption and insight generation as seamless and relevant as possible to more users than ever.
With them in place, end users’ experience is better, the insights they get are far more precise and specific to their needs, and so user adoption increases. Report fatigue goes down, users’ engagement with critical KPIs goes up, and everyone gets more value from your BI and analytics. As a result, you strengthen data-driven decision making throughout your organization, and you boost its significance as a dynamo of growth for your business.