We all have a love-hate relationship with reports, don’t we? At first you want to have as many as possible thinking that more = better. But then it starts getting out of hand as you produce report after report and realize you just created a different kind of mess, maybe more organized, but still one that doesn’t help you make sense of the information you need to process. Hopefully, after much trial and error you find a system of reporting that works for you and your colleagues, but that doesn’t always happen and companies can get into a cycle that isn’t the most productive or efficient, thinking it’s working for them when really it’s not. Read on to discover how an online registration software can improve your reporting and benefit your business!
Check out Part 2 of our reporting series!
Reports should always be geared towards the needs of your organization. For example, a non-profit organization whose goal is to bring as many quality volunteers to a country in need is not interested in the amount of applicants they are receiving but what role each applicant can perform. Their report should be structured around the applicants abilities and the number of roles they need for each position in order to effectively evaluate their applicants. On the other hand, an organization that is looking to grow in a specific program will need reports that compare metrics from year to year. Then there is the issue of the different kinds of reports that need to be generated depending on the recipient. The accounting department will need one set of reports and the registration team another. The challenge of effective reporting can become simple once you truly understand what a ‘report’ is.
So what is a report anyway?
The word “report” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some think of it as a snapshot of information on a specific set of users. Others think of it as the information they are going to pass over to their suppliers and coworkers. But one thing is always the same with reports: there is at least one variable. Whether that variable is the time frame (a report showing all users from Jan-Jun), the data set (a report of all products ordered between Jan-Jun), or the person that is going to see it (a summarized sales report for the marketing manager for sales between Jan-Jun). In our opinion, it really makes no sense to have reports that are just static. Why have only one variable in a report when everything can be a variable?
Static vs. Dynamic Reporting
What if we try to think of reports, not as static, but as a template of aggregated information. The report is then no more than a set of data units put together in a specific way which can generate statistics regardless of a point in time or a specific unit of information. For example, you might want to see the applicant information, date of application and total orders. In another report you would want to see the applicant name, passport number, country of issue, date of passport issue and the emergency contact information. Normally the report would be created and then “ran” for a specific date range or for applicants of a specific program. Now try to think of the report not as the “passport information report” that you run for your applicants but as a template of information that is put together in a specific way. When you think of it that way you do not have to run it for a specific country of issue, but you can generate the report based on information that is not in the report at all. Did that even make sense? Let’s put it another way. Run the report for all the applicants that ordered a specific product, applied in the last 10 days and have indicated that they are interested in one of your other offerings.
The great thing about this way of reporting is that you can filter what data you choose according to anything you want and add it to the template. It can be users, products or any other metric. The report is generated each time on a different set of data! Filtering the data you want is easy to a quality online registration software and data management software.Thinking of reports dynamically gives you a more powerful method of creating endless reports on endless sets of data. Whereas a static reporting structure is unchanging, a dynamic report changes according to the information you are looking for at any given moment. And all this is done by doing the work only once! How cool is that?
What does this kind of report look like?
Depending on the content of the report, it can have many faces. You can have charts, rows and columns of text, graphs or a list of monetary figures. For financial data, you might see a report on one product, the money brought in to date and the money still outstanding. You might also see a company-wide overview of monthly income and expenses covering all products. For product data, you might have a detailed report for the transportation director of all participants airline arrival times and dates to coordinate shuttles and pick-up times. A housing coordinator might receive a report on the breakdown of males, females and ages for participants opting into housing for one or all programs in order to map out their needs (how many rooms they need, what combinations, etc). The possibilities are endless. So how do dynamic reports or “views” help here?
Views are those sets of information you need for each different purpose. What is powerful is that views allow you to run a report on any single set of data. For example, on all the people that have food allergies and all the people that are coming in February. Generate it and just send it over to the meal supplier so they can produce exactly what is needed for the month. Being able to generate the reports that you need which are valuable and demand minimal time to setup, is key for many businesses. Needing a certain set of information without requiring tons of time to collect it allows you to spend more time on more important tasks. With an online and intelligent registration system that forms the basis for a dynamic applicant database, filtering the information you need and generating a report of any size and breadth of data is a breeze.
Suddenly the ability to create meaningful and useful reports doesn’t take hours.
In Part 2 of our Registration Software Reporting Lowdown, we’ll tackle what a great and dynamic report looks like, including why less is more, how a powerful filtering mechanism can make all the difference and how data in the cloud can make or break your dynamic reporting.
Confused about anything we talked about above? Ask a clarifying question below and we’ll answer it! Have any fun reporting styles you use that you think work and are beneficial, spill your secrets in the comments section.