About Me

IT Professional with more than 16 years experience in IT especially in the area of full life-cycle of Web/Desktop Applications Development, Database Development, Software Engineering, Consultancy, Data Management, Data Quality, Data Migrations, Reporting, ERP support, etc.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reports’ Best Practices

    If the query writing best practices are almost always clear, in what concerns the reporting/report’s best practices looks like a fuzzy area, the topics being centered around design (naming conventions, level of detail, what attributes need to be chosen, ownership, layout, formatting, filters, sorting, formatting, exporting functionality), security, deployment and report’s management.

Report’s Design pest practices: - Design for performance, usability, reusability, readability, accessibility, reliability, availability, personalization, interactivity, automation, adaptability and security.
- Reduce unnecessary network traffic.
- Group together the attributes coming from the same table/element/module.
- Use uniform coding style, formatting and naming conventions.
- Handle missing values (NULLs).
- Avoid hard-coding values.
- Include filter information, the date when the report was run and eventually the name of the Use who run the report.
- Design the report to fit screen’s resolution (e.g. 1280x1024) [1].
- Use existing reports as templates [1].
- Consider local date/time [1], currencies, decimal formatting.
- Highlight important data accordingly (e.g. styles & conditional formatting).
- Separating labels text from expressions [1].
- Use pagination in order to improve performance for large reports.
- Avoid blank pages.
- Keep objects together.
- Use flexible easy-to-use filters.
- Validate input filter data in early phases
- Provide a report for each level of detail.
- Backup aggregated reports with detailed reports - Link reports by using drill-down, drill-though, sub-reports techniques.
- Include unique identifiers for each important data element.
- Include a running number.
- Don’t overload the reports.

Report’s Management best practices:
- Provide an integrated reporting solution and integrate/align it with Data/Information/Knowledge Management strategy/vision.
- Align reports with organization’ strategic, financial and operational plans.
- Align reports with decisions making and performance management .
- Assign an Owner for each report.
- Provide metadata (e.g. Owner, Scope, Business Case, Attributes’ meaning, when the data were last time updated etc).
- Stabilize the requirements before creating the report.
- Train the Users how to use efficiently the reports/reporting tools. - Create processes for report’s creation, modification, testing, issues reporting and mitigation.
- Track report’s usage and performance
- Write unit tests & test the reports.
- Use versioning & keep older versions.
- Document reports (queries and dependent objects, filtering parameters, scope, business case, etc).
- Minimize reporting server’s workload.
- Archive/Backup important reports.

Report’s Security best practices:
- Use role-based security.
- Protect sensitive data.
- Enforce password best practices.
- Educate users about security concerns related to reporting tool’s security and security of data usage.
- Export data to formats that don’t allow data tempering.

References:
[1] Microsoft TechNet. (2010). Best Practices for Reporting. [Online] Available from: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc180385.aspx (Accessed: 31 January 2010).

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