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Brief Guide: 10 Smart Practices When Dealing With Reporting Software

Industry

Reporting software utilizes modern technology to create reports from different sources of data. These reports can be displayed on dashboards to enable the user to understand the data and share it with other individuals within the organization.

A number of big businesses capitalize on such software to make sense of large amounts of data collected by research teams and fed into the system for interpretation.

The software can retrieve and then analyze data and transform it from complex figures into human-readable information. This information helps to guide the business in making strategic future decisions.

Understanding Reporting Software

Every day, businesses have to make key decisions, these decisions are fueled by data collected by the teams. The data collected by the teams, however, are just figures and the decision makers cannot go through each and every figure collected.

Reporting software, however, is able to analyze these figures collected and present to the decision maker a clear picture of what is going it can provide information about current trends and possible future trends. The Software has a user-friendly dashboard which displays the information in an easy to understand way.

For example, a marketing department can use the software to understand how a product is doing in the market, which kind of people are interested in it and what time of the year it has the highest demand.

The software is a powerful tool for managers to see into the future by using current trends to predict what the sales will be like in the coming year or what they have to do to hit their targets.

The reporting software can also be used to create comparisons. A manager can choose to compare data from different locations or times as well as companies.It will be able to identify relationships between different categories.

10 Best Practices You Need to Know

Before getting started, there are a few key areas of importance that need to be addressed. First of all, it is important to have basic training for all individuals who will be using the software. Even though it is user-friendly,when dealing with data of this kind, it is best to avoid any margin of error.Ensure everyone using the software knows what they are doing.

Also, since the organization will be dealing with large amounts of data, it is important that the right hardware is available. The computers should be able to handle this amount of data or else they could easily crush under the volume they may have to deal with. Compatibility of the hardware and the software needs to be verified.

Automated Data Collection

The reporting software relies on consistent data from different reports along with verified data to come up with reports that save the user’s time and reduce the margin of error. The collection of data is done automatically along with computation and report creation. This cuts down the amount of time spent on business analysis.

Eliminate Bureaucracy

With the use of simple login details, the software eliminates the need for users to go through different authorization protocols to access reports. Access to reports is fast and easy and limits access to only people with the already authorized credentials.

Information on the Go

Reporting software can be accessed on the go using mobile devices. A user can use the same log in details they would use in the office, to access reports on their mobile phone as they work in the field. This also reduces expenditure on computers since everyone has a mobile phone so no need to facilitate them with laptops to access reports while they are out of the office.

Planning

Planning makes up part of the process of the initial transition stage from the old reporting style to the reporting software adoption. Planning should involve training of the individuals who will be handling the software, understanding the needs of the people who will use the reports and how.

The planning process will determine the success of the software implementation.Time taken to transition should also be considered.

Data Conversion

Accuracy in data conversion is essential. It is important that the data entered from the old reporting system into the new system is accurate. The data entered into the new software will determine the accuracy of the reports generated. It is therefore important to perform a gradual conversion process of the data and eliminate any errors.

Training

Like with any new software, users need to be able to use it effectively and get the best out of it. All the users who will use it, regardless of their level,need to understand how the software will enhance their performance. If they are trained, they will be able to implement the desired transition with ease and the results will show.

Find out the Specific Needs of the User

Ask as many questions as possible that will help understand the purpose of the reporting tool. It makes no sense to carry out training for users if you do not know how they intend to use the software. You might find out that in certain areas, there is no need for the software or discover a need that has never been identified until then.

Business Disruption

The transition phase is likely to result in downtime for a business that doesn't have the right resources to compensate for the time when the new software is being integrated. Downtime is bad for any business as it will affect the bottom line.

The planning stage for the implementation of reporting software should take this into consideration and plan ahead. The old reporting model should have an effective stand in as it is slowly converted and the users need to be prepared for the interruption so that there is fluid transitioning.

Keep Stakeholders in the Loop

As the implementation goes forward, the stakeholders should always be informed about what is going on and the progress made so far. Transparency is key towards the success of the implementation so all people that need to be aware of progress should be updated regularly.

Watch out for Scope Creep

Scope creep occurs when you fail to meet the set deadline and the resources need to be stretched further than expected. Scope creep is a sign of failure to implement the planned scope of work. It is not uncommon for this to happen, so you need to be on top of things to ensure it does not happen.

A well thought out plan is the best way to ensure the project goes smoothly.Keep the time frame and budget realistic and you should succeed.

Take a moment to try out the available reporting software and see how it can improve your business.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Provides a display of all the tags in the template, structures as they are placed in the template. Provides an easy way to see the structure, go to any tag, and see the properties of a tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

Designer (fka AutoTag) Generate Code tool allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables in your .NET or Java project. The process is quick, shortens delivery time and helps alleviate any bumps in the road.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in the template are carried over to XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will be pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, ot the properties in the parent.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

When Windward is merging the data into a template, it process the template handling each tag in order, and the tags can pull from different datasources. This allows the select in a tag to use data from other datasources in the select.

For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

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