Report writing is difficult for most people. It requires a level of detail and skill that most people simply don’t have the patience to learn let alone apply. Historically, most report writers are primarily Information Technology (IT) people with very little business experience which makes it impossible to explain why a transaction must be a debit instead of a credit. The language gap between report writers and users can be the difference between speaking English and Spanglish. The report writer might understand basic information about the business but not enough to optimize a report or the user doesn’t understand real constrains such as data quality, database design, or application limitations to understand why a report can’t be written just like their excel spreadsheet.
Report writers – I have two words for you: Analysis Studio! Learn it, love it, use it. Business users – I have the same two words: Wait for it … Analysis Studio. Let’s assume that you have the groundwork covered such as a multidimensional Framework Package and you have Analysis Studio deployed, you can use Analysis Studio drop and drag functionality to bridge the gap between report writer and business user.
Analysis Studio allows a user to see their data in a way that makes sense to the business. The business user can drag data items from the Insertable objects pane to the crosstab. Think of the crosstab as follows:
- Row – What do I want to see?
- Columns – When did the information occur? (Year, Month, Week)
- Measure – How many or how cost? (Mathematical values)
Once the you have placed the data items you want to work with into the crosstab you can slice and dice, create calculations, suppress certain items … the list goes on and on. The point of Analysis Studio is that interaction is very similar to a Microsoft Pivot table, but don’t be fooled to think that it is a Pivot table. It is much more but I use this reference to coax business users to the table to write their own reports because most people are comfortable with Pivot tables. Ok, so the business user is wheeling and dealing in Analysis Studio and they are happy because they can ask questions of the data and get immediate answers. Now they want what they have in Analysis Studio as a report because they need to share it and schedule it – which neither can be done in Analysis Studio. Report writers get on your knees and thank the heavens they are bringing you an Analysis Studio project to convert to a report instead of an excel spreadsheet. Stay on your knees because I am going to tell you how to convert that project with a single click… Open in Report Studio. It is the button you love and want to kiss Cognos on the mouth for … ok if Cognos was a person you would.
When you create something in Analysis Studio you can open it in Report Studio and Cognos does all the translations including formatting. I know you are saying really, “I didn’t learn that in my training class!” or “I don’t remember that!” Don’t worry you are learning it now – better late than never. I think this tip is worth subscribing to the blog. Anyway, Query Studio and Analysis Studio interplay with Report Studio very well and this is where Cognos separates itself from the competition. Remember I talked about the business users being comfortable with Analysis Studio because it is a lot like Microsoft Pivot Table, well the report writer can leverage that and write a report that the business will understand and use immediately. Moreover when you create a report from Analysis Studio, a report writer can learn how Cognos understands calculations and functions, which if the report writer is smart – will review those query items to beef up their skills. Also, if a report writer is struggling with something in Report Studio, they should do it in Analysis Studio and convert it to Report Studio and see the calculation…. it is a great self-tutoring method.
I could go on forever about how to use Analysis Studio and Report Studio, but I will leave you with this. Analysis Studio is at a higher level than transactional data. That means that the “when” (refer back to the Who, When, How section above) is summarized, therefore you can’t see a specific transaction. However in my next blog posting I will talk about bridging the gap between multidimensional and transactional reporting.
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