How to Design and Choose Reporting Platform?
For most companies, using Excel to create reports is the most common reporting solution. However, with the growing amount of data from many sources, the pain points of using Excel are more and more apparent. For example, data collection is time-consuming, and the data from scattered business systems can not be integrated. In this situation, design and build a reporting platform to manage data and reports unified is the priority to the IT department.
What are the Reporting Platforms?
Reporting platforms are defined as platforms that are used to generate, gather, and manage reports. It allows you to extract data and present data in the form of charts, tables, reports, and dashboards to transform the data into useful information.
Reporting Platform Architecture
To the IT department, the first step of building a reporting platform is to clarify the user’s requirements and design the architecture.
Here, I will show a basic reporting platform architecture since the users’ demands vary in different industries and departments.
A reporting platform usually adopts a 3-tier architecture. A 3-tier architecture is an architecture pattern that divides the architecture into three tiers: data layer, application layer, and presentation layer. It is mostly used in the client-server system.
The presentation tier is at the top level of the application.
After sending content to browsers in the web development frameworks, the presentation layer displays information in the shape of a graphical user interface (GUI), allowing users to access directly. Sending the results to the browser and other tiers through API calls achieves communication between different layers.
The presentation tier of the reporting platform usually plays a role in displaying the reports and dashboards. It is better if the charts and reports in the format of HTML5. In this way, the reports can be displayed across platforms, from Pcs to mobile devices. For example, the presentation layer of FineReport can show reports and dashboards on the different sizes of screens since the charts in FineReport are HTML5. In addition to the multiple device’s displays, it also supports instant updates.
The application tier acts as the logic tier. It builds a bridge and makes communication faster between the presentation layer and the data layer.
In the reporting platform, this layer should be responsible for reports design, reports generation, and reports management. For example, in the application layer of FineReport, it provides a user-friendly designer that users can build reports via simple drag and drop. It also provides a reporting portal for users to manage reports and permission.
A persistent storage mechanism and the data access layer makes up the data-tier of the reporting platform. It works on connecting the application layer with the database and extracting data from the database.
The FineReport‘s data layer plays a role in data management, covering collecting data, ETL, building a data warehouse, etc. It supports various data sources and integrating these sources to give users a comprehensive view of the information scattered in different business systems.
Requirements for Best Reporting Platform
Before designing the reporting platform, the IT department should first clarify the reporting platform requirements. As mentioned above, different department demands differently. However, these five areas must be included.
- Support multiple data sources.
- Make it easy to design reports.
- Flexible reports delivery
- Offer ease of customization.
- Convenient for Operation&Maintainence
Next, take FineReport as an example since it has helped 11000+companies deal with the reporting problems, and it might be the best reporting platform so far.
1.Support multiple types of data sources
The enterprise data scattered in different databases and business systems. And the data will be more complicated in the future.
Therefore, a good reporting platform should support the most common databases, including mainstream relational databases and the trending NoSQL databases such as MongoDB.
Besides, it is better if it supports importing data from Excel, Txt, or XML documents.
With the development of multi-dimensional databases, a leading reporting platform should also be compatible with Essbase, SSAS, SAP, HADOOP.
2. Make it easy to design reports
Traditional reports are developed by coding, which is time-consuming and inconvenient to make a change.
A modern reporting platform is supposed to offer an intuitive visual design environment that enables users to design reports quickly. For example, in FineReport, report developers can create a custom report with a drag-drop interface.
And the visual design environment allows users to view outputs immediately.
Besides, the reports templates can be reused to save time.
3.Flexible reports delivery
FineReport can export data into.pdf, Word, Excel, .txt, .svg, images for sharing, and printing.
In addition to exporting and printing, multiple devices display is of great importance. FineReport can deliver reports on different screen sizes, from PCs to mobile devices and TV screens, because the HTML reports generated by FineReport can be viewed on the web.
Task scheduling makes reports delivery more flexible. Once setting the time-frequency and the recipients in the reporting portal of the reporting platform, the server will automatically finish the set tasks at the appointed time, sending the reports on a specific day.
4. Offer ease of customization
The open reporting platform allows users to develop and customize the platforms to meet specific needs via web scripts and APIs. Also, an open reporting platform is convenient to integrate with other business systems.
5.Convenient for Operation&Maintainence
For the O&M department, it is difficult to avoid the operation and maintenance of the reporting platform. The more complicated the report system’s operation and maintenance are, the more bugs need to deal with, and the invalid work will increase.
Therefore, a reporting platform also requires a reporting portal to decrease the burden of the O&M department.
FineReport’ s reporting portal makes monitoring the details of report access, locating and dealing with problems easy, and provides powerful data backup and recovery functions.
Reporting platforms can help you deal with the pain points of using Excel to build and manage reports
11000+ companies trust FineReport mentioned above, and it is free for personal use. You can download it for a free trial.
You might also be interested in…