Having access to historical information via the Web

Having access to historical information via the Web provides perspective to the information so that trends can be identified. Even beyond this, you can mine the historical information for predictive modeling purposes to help see into the future, based upon assumptions related to the key factors or drivers of the business. The next challenge for reporting tools is automation. Reporting capabilities have traditionally been defined by the IT department. IT is constantly challenged with having to retrieve information from multiple data sources and delivering reports with a variety of tools. Being able to automate the integration of data sources and the production of reports so that information is pushed to business people in the form of reports and alerts enables knowledge workers to be more proactive. Alerting reports can also be produced when key operational metrics look to be out of whack, indicating that a situation needs attention again, a proactive, enabling capability. You ll get a chance to see how Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services rises to these challenges and provides some excellent reporting capabilities. The great feature about Reporting Services is that it is an extension of the SQL Server database management system. As such, if you have an SQL Server license, you have Reporting Services. Mastering Reporting Principles Have you ever wondered why some reports are immediately understood while others lead to blank looks and questions about your competency? Reports that resonate with others generally satisfy the key principles of reporting. In this section, you get the chance to explore the key principles to follow to create good reports. Presenting the right information The first good reporting principle is presenting the right information. The right information can be current or historical, subtotal amounts by category, running totals by reporting group, trend lines sales over time, or just vertical bars showing how your product sales ended last quarter. The right information depends on the nature of the business question that you re trying to answer. In order to be right, the information should be timely for the question being asked, as accurate as the business process allows, as relevant to the business question as possible, and also consistent with information from multiple functional areas (such as finance, sales, and operations) in the company. The report should also provide some additional insight into the situation. Chapter 1: Getting Familiar with Reporting Services 11

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