Rules-based Reporting

Did you know that the Reporter module has far more capabilities than just being able to report on elements in the web?  Building on my previous blog entry, reports can be written that follow the same “rules” that businesses use in reporting and distributing information and data.  For example, I was recently working with a customer that wanted a monthly report that summarized a certain category of KPIs whose statues were either yellow or red.  Furthermore, they wanted to see comments for the current period.  If there were no current comments, they wanted to display the most recent comment.

Using Reporter, we are able to find KPIs of the specified category, then check to see which contain yellow or red statuses.  Once we have the KPIs we search for and display the most recent comments (since current comments are also the most recent).   Once the report is created, it will provide different output each month depending on what KPIs are red or yellow, and depend on when comments were last added.
A different customer had a unique approach to reporting strategic initiatives.  This customer had top-level initiatives that served as the broad strategic categories for their planning purpose.  Beneath the top level, they had up to four levels of sub-initiatives.  At the second level (beneath the top level) they needed operational reports on the progress and status, as well as information regarding each of the nested sub-initiatives.   Their “rule” was that each level 2 initiative should be grouped according to which manager was responsible.  From each level 2 initiative, they wished to view the nested sub-initiatives and associated comments.
How are these rules modeled in the Reporter module?  Quite simply, we ‘find’ the objects that meet our rule criteria, and display them following the ‘rules’ that our customers specify.  In the above example, we start searching for level 2 initiatives that meet our criteria, we organize them following the ‘rules’ and we display the sub-initiatives according to the ‘rules’ governing sub-initiatives.  We do not need to create separate views in the web to display content according to our reporting rules.  This can be particularly useful when preparing reports for team or management meetings, where attendees are related to different business units.  Rather than relying on an organizational view of performance, we can model reports based on the purpose of the meeting, for example, and pull all the relevant information together into one report view.
Every customer, sooner or later, develops rules for how information should be organized and shared.  By modeling these rules directly into reports, the sharing and distribution can easily be automated.

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