Prior to using an Office-based report design tool, I spent half my time designing and scripting reports to meet the bank’s requirements. Now we can lay out areport in Microsoft® Word and get immediate approval from the client.
—Santhi Swaroop Mohanty of Nucleus Software Exports
As a software developer, you work hard to provide your customers with an intuitive interface and bug-free functionality. Yet no matter how delightful the overall experience, one of most costly and time-consuming challenges you’ll face comes when your customer struggles to use the reporting and document generation component. Here’s why: The frustrated customer needs a certain report and solicits the software developer’s help. The well-meaning developer creates the report and sends it to the customer. Still dissatisfied, the customer provides additional feedback. The developer dutifully refines the report yet again. The customer, now expecting perfection, provides even more feedback to the beleaguered developer. And so it goes, ad nauseam. This is a true bottleneck. It doesn’t have to be like this. The key to a better approach is to use Microsoft®Office as the document design tool. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint give your customers and the flexibility and features they need to create top-notch enterprise reports—fast. Here are seven reasons why Microsoft Office is the ideal reporting and document generation tool.
The true cost of a reporting or docgen solution depends on several factors, but the biggest factor by far is time spent designing templates. When you shorten the amount of time needed to create and modify templates, you slash the biggest expense. Microsoft Office does exactly that with its easy-to-use interface. Want to insert a table? Just point and click. Need a company logo moved? Drag and drop it to the right place. Commands are right in front of you and simple to work with, so you save boatloads of time.
The more you use a program, the more familiar you become with its features and the faster it is to use. This is a key advantage of using Microsoft Office to design reports and documents. Most end users already know how to format text, insert images, add rows to spreadsheets, and work with other tools useful for report creation. They don’t need intensive training in a new program, so they can jump right in and design.
Some tools restrict the template to “banding,” where elements of a report are confined to limited sections called bands. Not so with Microsoft Office. It is a non-banded (also called “free-form”) solution, so you can lay out elements as you wish. This gives you significantly more freedom and ensures the final report looks the way you want it to.
When you use Microsoft Excel as the template design tool, you can take advantage of the many built-in features that keep data errors out of your reports, including:
In addition, some Office-based template tools include Excel-type equations and functions in the Word and PowerPoint interfaces, as well.
Let’s face it: customers can be very picky. One needs a report as a PDF, another as HTML,and still another wants a spreadsheet she can manipulate.
When you design a report in Microsoft Office,you typically have the option of generating the output in Microsoft Office as well.
And some Office-based tools provide you with the freedom to generate PDF documents, HTML files, and many other output formats.
Creating reports in Microsoft Office helps break the cycle of needless iterations, but working with colleagues can be a GOOD thing.
Microsoft Office (2010 and higher) includes collaboration features such as real-time communications within a document, co-authoring of projects, and the ability to remotely access Office files.
As we described earlier, there’s an unnecessary back and forth between customer and developer. Picture a customer who needs a report. She asks you to create her one. It isn’t what she envisioned, so she marks it up and asks for a new version. When your overworked IT person finally gets to it, once again it isn’t exactly what our customer needs, and everyone goes through the process again. And again.
When your customers use MS Office as the report design tool, they don’t have to wait on IT. They can design or edit the reports themselves, so they get what they need, when they need it. No more impediments to customized reports.
You can smash the reporting bottleneck—when you use a Microsoft Office-based reporting and document generation component.
That’s the problem we set out to solve. Windward provides a unique experience using Microsoft Office to format and edit report templates. Behind the scenes, Windward’s sophisticated engine pulls data from multiple sources and merges that data into your reports, creating a fast and hassle-free experience that can even make generating reports fun.