Reporting is an important topic in database management because it is the showcase of the database.

Often we think of reports in a narrow way by assuming that the formal reports we are accustomed to, like open orders, monthly sales, etc., are the way to define reports. When I talk about reports, I mean it in the broader sense as any output from the database.

There are many forms, types, and ways of delivering reports.

Forms of reporting include emails, faxes, paper reports printed from a printer and distributed, PDF files, graphs, charts, spreadsheets, etc.

Types of reports include:

  • Status reports, such as today’s open orders, the past month’s sales, shipments sent yesterday, etc.
  • Lists of information, such as lists of products, a sales rep’s sales for a timeframe, a company directory, etc.
  • Analytical reports, where programming is needed to evaluate information, maybe combine it with other information, then make decisions about what should be included on the report. In-depth analysis can be automated to provide insights into trends based on history, such as ordering patterns of customers, product profitability analysis that analyzes variable and fixed costs, distribution of daily pricing emails to customers for commodity-based products they purchase, etc.

Report delivery methods include:

  • On demand, where a user clicks on a button and a report is printed, emailed, or faxed.
  • Scheduled, where a routine schedule is maintained for generating and distributing reports. Most often, someone is responsible for making these reports happen — better yet is a computer-controlled method of generating these scheduled reports.
  • Event-based, where something in the database triggers the distribution of a report. For example, a large sale is made and certain people need to be informed about this event. Maybe someone is responsible for monitoring these events and, once the event is known, he/she makes the effort to distribute the information — better yet is a computer-controlled method of generating these event-triggered reports.

Reports can vary from the very simple to the highly complex. When you consider the many combinations and permutations of report forms, types, and delivery methods, this is an area of opportunity for developing increased awareness of information among employees, management, customers, prospects, vendors, and others.

I can provide advanced methods for creating and delivering any report needed. I will probably see many opportunities to suggest a report that you might not have considered, and you will likely challenge my ability to deliver one you thought about that you dismissed as probably not possible.