The Report Creation Experience

Part 1 of a 2 Part Blog Series

Enterprise technology has recently started placing a major emphasis on experiences. Experiences should be considered extremely important on both sides of a technology. On the generally invisible backend of a technology, you have the experience of a skilled resource who is actually configuring and building with a given technology, and then on the visible front end you have the experience of the user who is actually interacting and getting value out of what has been built for them using the technology. This 2 part blog series focused on reporting with ServiceNow data, will be looking at both sides of the reporting experience, that of the creator, and that of the consumer. Part 1 will be looking at the part that is invisible to many, the report creation experience, and Part 2 will be looking at the more visible consumption experience of an end user viewing and interacting with a report.

The Report Creator

In the enterprise, you will find many organizations with dedicated reporting teams who deal with data from multiple platforms aggregated together, but what you will also find is individual business process owners, directly responsible for creating reports specific to their process, to distribute to different groups throughout the organization. These report creators specifically, are having to do this alongside their normal work load of managing the technical aspects of processes and applications for stakeholder teams.

Creation Process

When building a report, the two ideal starting points are:

1. Who is the report for?

AND

2. Why do they need it?

I say ideal because though these are the most important, there are other common factors that have to be considered first, mostly dictated by toolset and where the data actually lives. Among these you have:

  • Do I have access to the data I need?
  • Can I make the necessary calculations and visualize the data in a consumable fashion?
  • Can I display this report to my audience within the tool, or do I have the ability to export so I can distribute to my audience?
  • Can I add text to tell a story alongside the data?
  • Can I format this in a way that suits my audience?

Ideally, these are table stakes, but that isn’t always the case. So, report creators typically have to balance the capabilities of their toolset, with the key starting points of “who is it for” and “why do they need it” in mind.

When creators start with “who is it for” and “why do they need it”, they have to ability to tell a story rather than share a report. If the “who” is a business team or executive who does not have operational knowledge in the given area, it is essential to provide expert level context alongside the data, so they can quickly understand what the data shows, and take action to either continue improving, or course correct. If the “why do they need it” is to just get a monthly update on metrics that they already have an understanding of, the creator knows the most important part is to make sure the data is available and accurate.

Creation Barriers

Because all creators have to consider things like data access, ability to make calculations, and report format, they have to choose which of their available tools will allow them to deliver what they need to their audience. Often times, this means manual work that takes place in spreadsheets, stale slide decks, and text documents, because they need a certain branded, shareable format for their specific audience. It is frustrating for these creators because these hours are sunk into a manual process, and taken away from high value, high impact tasks.

Ideal Creation Experience

It is our position that a great report creation experience, should be just as important as a great report consumption experience. When report builders have the tools to build and template repetitive reports, quickly put together custom reports, and share easily with their audience, they aren’t beholden to monthly reporting chores. They can deliver an excellent service and experience to their audience in a fraction on the time. VividCharts strives to allow ServiceNow report creators the ability to automate the undifferentiated manual calculations that are done every single month, give self-service access to groups that typically have to wait on monthly reports, so they can focus on the who and the why to make their reports and dashboards as impactful as possible. Reach out to us if you want to dive further into the report creation experience, and stay tuned for Part 2 on the Report Consumption Experience!

March 11, 2019

Rob Walsh

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