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Why You Are Probably Looking at Automated Reporting Through the Wrong Lens

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Reporting Xpress Blogger

When people think about the benefits of an automated reporting platform, they often first consider the impact of eliminating tedious, time-consuming, and occasionally error-prone tasks from the plates of their most competent data-crunching team members.  While those factors are important, it is just as meaningful to consider the impact on the consumers of information within your organization, who have the potential to leverage that information for better decision-making and to execute better whatever their mission within the organization is.  

In a data-centric world in which the average information worker interacts with dozens of desktop software applications, web applications and services, and mobile apps, there is very little willingness to learn new, complex software. 

In addition, users have set a high bar for UI based on their experience with modern personal web and mobile applications. They have very little tolerance for investing the time required to become competent users of complex enterprise software unless it really is core to their job function.  Face it, we are all lazy/busy, and we don’t want to be trained.  We need to see value in the first minute of interaction with a new application, or we are not interested in returning to it.

However, in most nonprofits, critical data is locked within a couple of typically complex fundraising and financial software applications that the majority of the organization is not interested in learning.  They come to rely on reporting, which everyone is comfortable with, as their primary means of interacting with that mission-critical data.  

Unfortunately, reporting and report distribution tend to be labor-intensive processes, tying up significant amounts of the organization’s most valuable data crunchers.  There are also the issues of frequency and timeliness.  Manual routine reporting processes are typically not repeated on a frequent cadence, so users who depend on reporting as their source of information are usually not looking at the most current data.

An automated custom reporting platform, like Reporting Xpress, can eliminate the labor factor from report generation and distribution, and because it is automated, the information can be refreshed daily, ensuring consumers of the reports always have access to current information.

There is a concept in software design of “Services versus Surfaces.”  The services are your complex software applications, and they have their own sophisticated UI (User Interface) surfaces, which most non-core users have no interest in learning.  

Reporting Xpress abstracts users from those sophisticated surfaces by extracting key information via API from the software and packaging it up into easy-to-consume report format, then securely distributes that information to users via a simple, secure, intuitive, modern UI-design web portal or automated email distribution.  The information is typically updated daily, which satisfies the timeliness requirement for most non-core users.  

The result is anyone within your organization who needs data/information can quickly and securely access it without the pain of navigating complex software that really may not be core to their job function.  And, of course, your most competent data crunchers will have more time to focus on other types of higher-return data work. 

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