What is Data Reporting?
For a long time, accurately tracking data about your business performance was difficult and it was downright impossible to do it in real-time. When important decisions needed to be made, leaders had to use the best information they had, but it was often weeks, months or even years old.
While historical data certainly has value in decision-making, it’s important to also have up-to-date figures to identify new trends or challenges as they arise.
Data reporting is a means by which your data is aggregated and processed so you can easily spot trends, bottlenecks, gaps and unexpected successes. It is often used in conjunction with data visualization to make information easy to understand at a glance.
How Can Businesses Benefit From Data Reporting?
Data reporting is part of a larger business strategy, and doesn’t exist as an end goal. Also referred to as business intelligence (or BI), it serves the larger purpose of ensuring accountability, proper management of resources, and performance improvement.
Performance improvement is one of the most common and important ways reporting is used. Regular reports on key metrics enable business leaders and stakeholders to analyze how the company is doing, and help to identify areas where they must act to mitigate obstacles or to optimize what’s working.
This means that data reports can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.
Of course, this entire process requires not only data, but data that is easily accessible in a centralized database system for quick reporting.
What Are Some Best Practices for Data Reporting?
- Start with the end-goal in mind before building your report or choosing your reporting system. What is it that you want to be able to know and act on? Choose KPIs and metrics to pull into your report that will help you achieve your desired outcome.
- Identify who will be using your reports. This may include decision makers, stakeholders, marketing, sales… it all depends on the nature of your report. The important thing is that you have a complete list of everyone who will need to use it, so you can ensure it adequately answers their questions and data needs.
- Select the best method of presenting the data. The goal of data reporting is to present information in a way that makes it easy for people to analyze and act on it. That may require data visualization in the form of graphics, charts, heat maps, etc. As long as it quickly and clearly communicates the data, it doesn’t really matter which form you choose.
- Decide the frequency with which you will report. Some areas of your business may require daily reporting because things move and change so quickly — but in other departments, monthly or quarterly may be just fine. Whatever you choose, be sure to report at consistent intervals so you are comparing apples to apples when reviewing your data and reports over time.
- Use reporting systems and functionality that allow you to pull reports quickly and from anywhere. Some decisions need to be made quickly, and can’t wait for the office to open up. And in a world where people are increasingly working from remote locations, hosting your database and reporting software in the cloud will ensure your employees can work productively anywhere.
Data reporting is an important component of a solid business strategy, and enables better performance analysis and decision-making.
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