Report specification typically comes directly from the requirements phase. To the end user, the only direct touchpoint he or she has with the data warehousing system is the reports they see. So, report development, although not as time consuming as some of the other steps such as ETL and data modeling, nevertheless plays a very important role in determining the success of the data warehousing project.
One would think that report development is an easy task. How hard can it be to just follow instructions to build the report? Unfortunately, this is not true. There are several points the data warehousing team needs to pay attention to before releasing the report.
User customization: Do users need to be able to select their own metrics? And how do users need to be able to filter the information? The report development process needs to take those factors into consideration so that users can get the information they need in the shortest amount of time possible.
Report delivery: What report delivery methods are needed? In addition to delivering the report to the web front end, other possibilities include delivery via email, via text messaging, or in some form of spreadsheet. There are reporting solutions in the marketplace that support report delivery as a flash file. Such flash file essentially acts as a mini-cube, and would allow end users to slice and dice the data on the report without having to pull data from an external source.
Access privileges: Special attention needs to be paid to who has what access to what information. A sales report can show 8 metrics covering the entire company to the company CEO, while the same report may only show 5 of the metrics covering only a single district to a District Sales Director.
Report development does not happen only during the implementation phase. After the system goes into production, there will certainly be requests for additional reports. These types of requests generally fall into two broad categories:
1. Data is already available in the data warehouse. In this case, it should be fairly straightforward to develop the new report into the front end. There is no need to wait for a major production push before making new reports available.
2. Data is not yet available in the data warehouse. This means that the request needs to be prioritized and put into a future data warehousing development cycle.
1 - 2 weeks.
- Report Specification Documentation.
- Reports set up in the front end / reports delivered to user's preferred channel.
Make sure the exact definitions of the report are communicated to the users. Otherwise, user interpretation of the report can be erroneous.