You’ve identified a need for a new reporting component for your company or product. Now what?
Evaluating reporting software can be a complex process. Vendors make many of the same claims (“We’re the easiest to use, our output is the most flexible, our customer support is the best” – do these sound familiar?) but those claims can’t tell you whether their reporting or document generation software will become your competitive advantage.
For this reason, we’ve created a checklist to assist you in getting to the crux of the matter: determining which specific solution is the best one for your unique situation.
This guide features a series of questions to ask yourself during each step of the evaluation process.
First, let’s establish a clear picture of your organizational setup,what you do on a day-today basis, and the needs of your customers or end users:
With these answers in hand, let’s move on to considering one of the most important criteria: how quickly and easily you can design templates.
Consider the types of reports your company or product generates and their current visual impact.Now think about how you’d ideally like those reports to appear.
In your evaluation, you should also try to assess how quickly you (or your end user) will be able to get up to speed on the reporting design tool or interface.
Of course you won’t know for sure until you actually use it, but here are some questions to consider once you’ve identified a potential reporting package:
RESEARCH TIP: Vendor samples can spark design ideas and will give you an idea of whether a reporting package is capable of generating the designs you’ve identified as best for your company.
Downloading a trial and experimenting with the samples will give you firsthand experience as to ease and flexibility of design.
Getting your data into a report template is often one of the most confusing or elaborate processes in the report generation cycle.Help eliminate some of that confusion by asking yourself these questions:
REPORTING SOLUTION CATEGORIES:
Granted, you don’t have a crystal ball. But after you’ve identified a reporting solution, try to answer these questions as best you can:
Picture this: You or a customer generates a report and presents it at a staff meeting. Two weeks later, the boss asks for a copy of the updated report, ASAP. But there isn’t the ability to rerun the report because only a third party can do so.
With that scenario in mind, consider how you will need to generate ongoing reports:
Some reporting solutions offer only a couple of proprietary outputs, while others offer a much broader range.
Training, professional services and ongoing day after-day costs aren’t nearly as exciting as flashy template design features, but they are important.
And finally, we come to the price tag. It’s impossible to determine in advance exactly how much a reporting solution will cost, but you can arrive at a fairly solid estimate when you look at the options, services and conditions that will affect your ROI (Return on Investment) and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
At Windward Studios, we believe that reporting and document generation should be simple, that free-form template design is a must. You deserve attractive, informative and impressive reports. But most of the solutions companies build or are forced to rely on make it overly complex and tedious. Why can’t designing and generating reports be as simple as creating a Word document, Excel® spreadsheet or PowerPoint® deck? That’s the problem we set out to solve. Windward provides a unique experience using Microsoft Office to format and edit report templates. Windward delivers a solution (see below) that allows IT professionals to create basic templates and business users to customize those templates and create variations to meet their reporting needs. Behind the scenes, the sophisticated engine pulls data from multiple sources and merges that data into your reports, creating a hassle-free experience that can actually make generating reports fun.
So, how do we rate? We’re happy to answer any or all of the questions above. Our responses include:
Simple yet flexible report design: Use all of the powerful features you already know in Microsoft Office, including charts, PivotTables,shapes, headers, footers, images and more.
Multiple data source support: Connect to as many data sources as you need in a single report, including Big Data, file-based data and most every data source.
Efficient report production: We move the template creation and modification from the IT department to the business professional.
Easy to embed: You can embed it into your new or existing software application in as little as 14 lines of code.
Flexible output generation: Reports at the click of a button, to the standards of your organization and customers: DOCX, RTF, PDF,HTML, XLSX, or even directly to your printer.
Abundant learning resources: We offer a website filled with samples, tutorials and product documentation.
Flexible licensing and pricing: Windward requires no hardware, and we offer a variety of cost-effective licensing options for SaaS, mobile,desktop and enterprise deployments.