When your inbox is clogged up with hundreds of different reports, it can be really difficult to see what the point of them is. Why are people wasting their valuable time compiling all of this information, knowing that 90% of the recipients will probably file it away and never look at it again?
When it’s actually relevant, reporting is an incredibly powerful tool. The trick is getting reports showing the right data to the right people.
Actionable insights for management
It’s not just business strategy that is informed by reporting. Most of us work in a specific department doing a specific job, and we are largely unconcerned with the strategy of the wider business on a day to day basis.
However, we might be interested in a report that allowed us to drill into those wider trends and view their impact on our department. For example, if there is a trend for people filing insurance claims for broken bones which there was an increase due to the increase of ski holidays, how does this impact on the people working in the claims adjusting department and how can management use this to improve productivity?
With advanced medical reporting software, individuals in healthcare organizations can drill down into high-level reports and see in real terms what the impact is for them and their department. This allows people to strategize at a much more granular level and improve performance.
A record of performance over time
Most of us keep hold of reports rather than just deleting them because they are a chronicle of performance over time.
If you have reports for the past year or so, you can see how your business elements have performed over that time, which can help you make predictions for the coming year. If you have good software, you can also cross-reference this information with other reports to help to make your predictions even more accurate.
As a crude example, a winter clothing manufacturer might look at their reports for the last year and notice that their sales of thermal jackets increased in October, November, and December as they expected but that there was also another inexplicable spike in May.
If they could cross-reference their report with a weather report at the time, they might find that May was unseasonably cold. Or they might be able to cross-reference their report with that of a travel agent and find that May was when they were offering a great deal on holidays to Iceland.
Using reporting to work out why people may have behaved in the way they did is an invaluable tool for strategizing. For example, you could start to predict what kind of claims people might be making in what regions of the country.
Highlights business opportunity
As well as allowing people to mitigate potential issues, accurate and useful reporting allows people to get creative and come up with new ideas to improve business performance.
For example, in our winter apparel example, someone might see that travel agents are offering ski holidays again and capitalize on this by running a promotion on winter jackets at the same time.
This innovative thinking is only possible if the reporting tools available allow users to home in on the information that is useful to them and have agency over creating the reports that they will actually use.