Friday, 10 July 2015

Data Hunter-Gatherer

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I always despair when I encounter or procure reporting features and modules in Housing Management Systems. They are collectively so poor, particularly for ad-hoc reporting that end-users should be capable of managing, maybe 90% of the time.

All the mainstream housing system providers tell you they have a standard reporting set and offer report training based mostly these days on SQL Server Reporting Services. Now I know that SSRS has moved in leaps and bounds since 2004 when it first appeared. Initially it was like a Redmond chainsaw with no handle, which needed VB techies to make it sing and dance. In my humble opinion I still think you need developers (.net ones now..) to make it properly boogie. It's clearly not a great situation.

Obtaining PDFs of those mythical 'standard reports' honestly, is like tracking down rocking horse sh*t. If I were more cynical, I might conclude that there were few standard reports to render into Adobe Acrobat format for me. Lack of a credible reporting set is a major drawback to many systems.

For procurements, I Iike to have a specific session on ad-hoc reporting. Many suppliers have experienced my sealed envelope and when I pick up the phone to the 'deal-or-no-deal' banker. Without much exception, suppliers always state, "Well users wouldn't come into IT and expect you to knock up a report, crossing modules like that in 30 minutes, now would they?".  Do you think that's realistic? I don't. The real world does not neatly fit into Rent, Void, Response Repairs , Lettings, Assets modules does it? I see just that type of query, most days of the week.

If I had a free reign on procurements demos I would turn them completely on their head. Session uno, would be the reporting one. That's the payback for all user effort, and that's what the organisation turns on, how it makes decisions.

Since the dawn of time, man has relied on data. It's just only recently all in 1's and 0's. Today we are no less the data 'Hunter , Gatherers' than our distant cave dwelling ancestors. They relied on smells, prey tracks, weather and other data, they turned into a survival instinct.

To keep our organisations alive, we have that same reliance on our ICT providers to connect us with the key data that runs our business. IE Where our revenues originate, what we spend money on and what do we understand of our customers, needs & habits (i.e. customer profiling). Ask yourself, how well does your systems help you achieve these reporting aims?

So, should your supplier or you be working harder to deliver your reporting, safely gathered in? Probably depends how much annual maintenance you are paying towards reporting and the contribution the module makes to your organisation.

Related Post: Picking a name, a bigger part of a project than you might think...


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Girlschool - HunterGirlschool - Hunter.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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