Businesses often sign up for custom reporting software, only to realize that the program doesn’t meet the company’s requirements.
Either this happens due to the impulse factor, where buyers enthusiastically pay for a custom report builder because the features appeared to be too shiny, or those general features were too vague.
On a latter note, vague features are those features that aren’t very specific. In fact, these features are pretty much present in any range of custom reporting tools.
For instance, custom reporting software vendors claim to offer simplicity, robust functionality, and ease of use. Such features are present in any range of modern-day custom report tools because they’re pretty much the standard.
This post mainly focuses on the essential aspects of custom reporting software, which features to go for in a custom report builder, and vice versa.
Also, never make assumptions about custom reporting tools. Often time, they don’t exactly meet the business requirements because the in-depth overlay reveals those technical aspects that don’t really quite meet the baseline requirement factor.
Having said that, let’s get started and see what all the fuss is about.
Essential Features of a Custom Reporting Software
The following features are a ‘must-have’ when it comes to selecting the right type of customer reporting software.
1. Data Management In Custom Report Builder:
Starting off with the data management aspect of a custom report builder, we can see that it plays a crucial role for a variety of reasons.
Some of these reasons are stated below for your ready reference.
Data management ensures the accuracy and integrity of the data used in the custom reporting software.
It involves processes such as data validation, cleansing, and normalization, which help to eliminate errors, inconsistencies, and duplicate entries.
By maintaining accurate data, the custom report builder can generate reliable and trustworthy reports.
In many cases, data for reports are sourced from multiple systems and databases.
Effective data management enables the integration of data from various sources into a unified format, making it easier to create comprehensive and meaningful reports.
It ensures that data from different systems are correctly mapped and combined to provide a holistic view of the information.
Data management includes implementing security measures to protect sensitive information.
This involves setting up access controls, encryption, and data anonymization techniques to ensure that only authorized individuals can access and use the data.
By safeguarding data, the custom report builder helps prevent unauthorized access and data breaches, maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of the information.
Consistency in data is vital for accurate reporting. Data management processes establish standards and rules for data entry, storage, and maintenance, ensuring consistency across the system.
This consistency enables users of the custom report builder to rely on the information presented in the reports and make informed decisions based on reliable data.
Data management in a custom report builder involves implementing data governance practices.
This includes defining data ownership, establishing data quality standards, and ensuring compliance with regulations and policies.
Data governance ensures that the data used in custom reporting tools is governed effectively, minimizing risks associated with data misuse, non-compliance, and regulatory violations.
As the volume of data grows, effective data management ensures the scalability of the custom report builder.
It involves optimizing data storage, indexing, and retrieval processes to handle large datasets efficiently. Scalability enables custom reporting tools to handle increasing data volumes without sacrificing performance or responsiveness.
Data management supports the generation of meaningful insights from the data used in the report builder. By organizing and structuring the data effectively, it becomes easier to perform data analysis, identify trends, and uncover valuable insights.
These insights can then be incorporated into the reports, providing stakeholders with actionable information for decision-making.
2. Visualization Tools
Visualization is all about how the data is assembled and interpreted to affect a larger scheme of things going on in a company.
Here are some key reasons why visualization features are important in such software:
Visualization features allow data to be presented in a visual format such as charts, graphs, maps, and dashboards. Visual representations make complex data more easily understandable and digestible.
They help users quickly grasp patterns, trends, and relationships within the data, enabling better data comprehension and interpretation.
Visualizations provide an effective way to communicate insights and findings derived from the data. Instead of relying solely on numbers and text, visual representations make it easier to convey information from a visual aspect in custom reporting software.
This enhances the clarity and impact of the reports, facilitating effective communication with stakeholders who may have varying levels of data literacy.
Visuals enable users to make informed decisions based on the data presented.
By presenting data in a visually appealing and interactive manner, custom reporting software empowers users to explore the data, perform ad-hoc analysis, and gain deeper insights.
Visualization features are also known for supporting real-time monitoring of data and key performance indicators (KPIs) in custom reporting tools.
Dynamic and interactive visualizations allow users to monitor data in real-time, track performance metrics, and identify anomalies or deviations from expected values.
Real-time visualizations help organizations respond quickly to changing circumstances, enabling proactive decision-making and timely interventions.
Custom reporting software often includes drill-down capabilities in a custom report builder.
Unfortunately, there are only a select number of custom report builder(s), such as Dotnet Report that cover the drill-down aspect of data interpretation and reporting at the same time.
Users can start with a high-level overview and then drill down into specific data points or segments for more detailed analysis.
Drill-down features allow users to explore data hierarchies, apply filters, and focus on specific dimensions, helping to uncover insights at different levels of granularity.
3. Data Publication and Shareability:
What good is a report in a custom report builder if it’s sitting on your desk?
That’s where the shareability and publication of custom reporting tools come in. Here are some of the reasons why this is an important aspect of custom reporting software.
Publication and shareability features enable collaboration among team members and stakeholders.
Users can easily share reports with colleagues, clients, or decision-makers, allowing for seamless collaboration and feedback.
Doing so promotes knowledge sharing, fosters teamwork, and facilitates a more inclusive decision-making process.
Distribution of Insights:
Custom reports often contain valuable insights and findings derived from data analysis.
By sharing reports, organizations can disseminate information, share progress, and ensure that relevant stakeholders have access to the latest data-driven insights.
Shareability features ensure that reports are accessible to the intended audience.
Users can publish reports in various formats such as PDF, Excel, or HTML, making it easy for recipients to view and access the reports using their preferred tools or devices.
This sense of accessibility promotes transparency and enables stakeholders to access and review the reports whenever and wherever they need them.
Custom reporting tools often can automate the distribution of reports.
Users can schedule reports to be generated and shared at specific intervals or triggered by predefined events.
This level of automation streamlines the report dissemination process, ensuring that reports are consistently delivered to the right people at the right time.
Security and Permissions:
Publication and shareability features should include robust security controls and permissions management.
Permission settings can be configured to restrict access, control editing capabilities, and define roles and responsibilities for report viewers and collaborators.
Ideally, a robust custom report builder should have version control capabilities to manage changes and revisions in reports.
Version control allows users to track and manage different versions of reports over time, ensuring that the most up-to-date and accurate information is shared. It enables teams to collaborate on reports without the risk of working on outdated or conflicting versions.
Feedback and Iteration:
Publication and shareability features facilitate the collection of feedback on reports.
Stakeholders can provide comments, suggestions, or annotations directly on the shared reports.
This type of feedback loop helps improve the quality and accuracy of reports and enables iterative refinement and enhancement based on input from stakeholders.
Audit Trail and Compliance:
An audit trail that tracks report distribution and access provides an essential record of who accessed the reports, when, and for what purpose.
Audit trails support compliance requirements, regulatory standards, and internal governance, ensuring transparency, accountability, and data integrity.
4. Integrated Security:
Of course, without data-safeguarding, you’re looking at a potentially vulnerable aspect of a custom report builder.
To ensure maximum security, here are a number of reasons why integrated security is an important feature of a custom reporting software:
Integrated user security ensures that sensitive and confidential data used in custom reports are protected from unauthorized access and misuse.
User authentication mechanisms, such as username and password, multi-factor authentication, or single sign-on (SSO), help verify the identity of users before granting access to reports. This protects data from unauthorized viewing, modification, or disclosure.
User security features enable granular access control to reports and data based on user roles, permissions, and privileges.
This ensures that users only have access to the reports and data that are relevant to their job responsibilities.
Access control mechanisms prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive or confidential information, safeguarding data integrity and privacy.
Secure Data Transmission:
Custom reporting software may involve the transmission of data between the software and external systems or users.
Integrated user security ensures that data is transmitted securely using encryption protocols such as HTTPS or SSL/TLS.
Doing so safeguards data from unauthorized interception, tampering, or eavesdropping during transmission, protecting the integrity and confidentiality of the information.
User-level security features enable data segregation, ensuring that each user can only access their designated datasets or reports.
This segregation prevents unauthorized cross-access between different users’ data, maintaining data privacy and confidentiality. It is particularly important in multi-tenant environments or scenarios where multiple users share the same reporting software.
5. Predictive Analysis for Future-Ended Decision-Making:
Predictive analysis is more of an advanced-level feature in custom reporting tools.
Fortunately, Dotnet Report integrates power-bi reporting capabilities to offer predictive analysis in all the reports.
Some of the reasons associated with the overall importance of having this feature are listed below. Take a look!
Scenario Planning and Sensitivity Analysis:
“What-if” scenario analysis allows users to explore different hypothetical scenarios and assess their potential impact.
Custom reporting tools with scenario planning capabilities enable users to change variables, parameters, or assumptions to simulate different scenarios.
This helps in evaluating the potential outcomes of different decisions or external factors, aiding in strategic planning and decision-making.
Resource Allocation and Optimization:
Predictive analysis and scenario planning support effective resource allocation.
By analyzing historical data and using predictive models, custom reporting tools can assist in optimizing resource allocation decisions.
Financial Planning and Budgeting:
Predictive analysis can significantly enhance financial planning and budgeting processes.
Custom reporting tools with predictive capabilities can assist in forecasting revenue, expenses, cash flow, and other financial metrics.
By considering various factors and scenarios, organizations can develop more accurate and realistic financial plans, improving budgeting and financial decision-making.
Dotnet Report To Fulfill Your Reporting Needs:
Dotnet Report is a modern-day lightweight reporting building software that’s laden with all the aforementioned features.
One of the biggest aspects of this tool is the customization feature that enables users to integrate different types of databases for effortless report creation.
Top it off with filters and drill-down capabilities and you’re looking at a fully-functional solution that’s designed to fulfill all your needs.
Take it for a spin and let us know what you think.