Having access to historical information via the Web

Another benefit of reporting the right information is that the report should be actionable. That is, the best reports show the type of information that you (or anybody else equally intelligent) would use to make an immediate decision. This could take the form of an exception report that shows business events that require immediate attention. Or it could be a chart illustrating that the inventory levels of a certain raw material compared with component sales indicate that a reorder needs to take place immediately. Whether a decision can be made based on the information presented in a report is an important criteria in the value of that report. It also is a guiding principle when determining what information belongs on a report. Microsoft Reporting Services allows you to report information from nearly every type of data source you can find from a legacy system to a spreadsheet to relational databases and even OLAP (online analytical processing) databases. Within a report, Reporting Services allows you to report from multiple data sources in order to provide the right information in the report. It provides access to the data sources essential to presenting the right information. Using the right medium The medium is the message, advertisers tell me. The messages or information that you deliver in a report should be versatile enough to allow viewing from virtually any media. The choice of media appropriate to the report depends mostly on the type of action that the report should evoke. For example, if the report needs to be easily accessible and represents a key variable of the business, the report needs to be shared in many contexts. This type of report should be available on the Web and available to all relevant business users for collaboration. If the report is part of a regular briefing, is reviewed with many other such reports, and might need to be referenced intermittently, it might be best to print the report to include in a book of reports for review. If the report needs to be sent to a person in the field for immediate action, it should be available on a PDA in electronic form. If the report will be subject to further analysis by a financial person, creating the report in an Excel spreadsheet might be best. Guess what? Reporting Services provides you with the capability to produce reports on the Web and to export them into a number of formats such as PDF and Excel. Reporting Services also allows you to print the report as well as to distribute reports via e-mail or even integrate your reports within your company intranet. You can also embed Web-based reports within business applications or information portals, such as a corporate intranet. You should know the context for a given report and make it accessible in the best manner to enhance the productivity of the business consumer of that report. 12 Part I: Just the Basics

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