Elements . . .
What Goes Into Enterprise Reports?
Well, the actual tables, graphs and other elements are up to you. But I can give some pointers on the kinds of things that are generic:
Elements of Reports
- Title - You need both a long (descriptive) and short (simple) title for each report.
- Report ID - Should be short and unique, and allows users to specify exactly what report they're looking at. These IDs, titles and other labels may need to apply to sub-reports and report elements too (eg. graphs and tables). Working out a sensible scheme can be very demanding.
- Appearance - Ideally, the reports should fit with your organisational colour scheme, fonts and layout and be badged appropriately. Make sure the colours are websafe, printer-friendly and acceptable to the colour-blind.
- Sources - You need to specify the source systems for each report.
- Dates - Include the date of the business events, data collection, report production and report presentation. Most likely, they will all be different dates and will help users assess the timeliness of it.
- Report Owner - What is the name of the person who owns this report? (That is, the person responsible for getting value out of it.)
- Report Description - A few sentences describing the report, who should use it and for what purposes will be very helpful.
- Definitions - This is where you expain what events or entities are being counted, and what calculations are used to derive new figures. For example, for "New Accounts per Month" you would need to specify whether that includes eg test accounts, re-activated accounts etc. Also, is that per calendar month, or every four weeks?
- Legal Notices - You should put in any copyright notices, disclaimers. Also, specify the level of confidentiality - is this report secret or commercial-in-confidence?
- Quality Status - You should flag whether a report is draft, provisional, accepted, amended etc.
- Contact Details - Put the name, telephone number and email address of the person for queries about the contents of this specific report (usually the subject matter expert in your organisation).
Wondering when to use pie charts, when to use column graphs and when to use tables? If you're serious about presenting high-quality reports to sophisticated information consumers, then you have no recourse but to read Edward Tufte's book: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information