The Secret to Solving Your Business’s Reporting Challenges

If you are in business today then reporting is very likely close to the top of the list of what you expect your rental system to help you with. Your business units, the government, auditors and customers all need information from your rental software. And yet for various reasons reporting still remains one of the biggest challenges for many smaller rental businesses. Understanding the reporting process can make it easier for you determine what data and tools you need to provide the best reporting for your company.

There are four main areas to consider when building a rock solid reporting system:

  1. Understanding what reports you need to provide
  2. Understanding what data you have available for the reports
  3. Understanding how to transform your data to the proper format and summary levels required
  4. Understanding how your users need to consume the reports

Let’s take a look at the first of these areas — understanding what reports you need to provide. This is a critical first step, but often time it’s the hardest step. It’s easy to say “we need everything,“ but the reality is do you truly need everything as a report? Start by building a list of reports required by the consumer (operational, executive, auditor, customer etc.) and then ask some basic questions:

  • What is the ultimate purpose of this report?
  • Do you really need a report for this? Especially for operational reports it may be that they can get the information from an operational screen instead.
  • How often will this report be needed — every day or just once a year?  
  • Roughly how big will the report be — one row or many, or maybe even just a single metric?
  • Who needs the report and what do they intend to do with the data? Good reports are developed to help take action. What actions are driving the need for the report?
  • What type of data is required — at least at a high level and with what level of summarization?
  • Does the report require live data or is a time lag acceptable?
  • Are there any special security requirements around the report?

Use this handy infographic as a quick reference to remember these questions in the future.

A guide to creating actionable, insightful reports

Asking these questions will help you understand and prioritize your list of reports. As basic as these questions seem, in many cases they are not asked before time and money are spent developing reports that are not really needed.  Having the answers will help you immensely in the other next three areas. Stay tuned for our next blog post on this important topic: understanding what data you have available for your reports.

Written by Chris Kennedy, an InTempo Project Manager and reporting expert. 

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