This article recaps a session by Kristyna Hughes delivered during 3Cloud’s Envision Summit.
Imagine getting this enthusiastic request. “Hey, guess what? We’ve got this mind-boggling report that a VIP used before, but it’s slower than a snail on roller skates! Now, we’ve got a brand-new VIP who wants us to jazz up the report to satisfy their curiosity. Can you please fix this report?”
Can you feel the adrenaline pumping? Eagerly, you dive into the report, ready to conquer any challenge that comes your way. But hold on tight, because what awaits you is a whopping fifty tables, over one hundred measures, and even six calculated tables. Whoa! Take a deep breath, my friend, and let the excitement build.
In this session, we’ll deep dive into the art of unraveling a complex report, armed with a checklist of quick wins. Don’t worry, there’s no need to panic! With the knowledge and skills gained from this session, you’ll be equipped with a supercharged toolbelt, ready to tackle any reconstruction project that comes your way. Get ready for an exhilarating journey of report revamping!
Let’s start with 5 key steps to redesigning reports.
1. Save a copy of the report before changing anything.
Always save a copy of the report before making any changes. This practice prevents discrepancies and facilitates comparison with the original. There are options for using Power BI and GitHub for report development but be cautious since these features are still in preview.
2. Meet with stakeholders to understand what’s working and what’s not working.
The next crucial step involves meeting with stakeholders to gain an understanding of what is working and what needs improvement. By soliciting feedback on potential changes, report developers can align their efforts with stakeholder preferences, building trust and ensuring the end product meets their needs. It is of paramount importance to have stakeholder involvement throughout the report revamping process. Excluding them can result in a loss of trust and reduced utilization of the final report.
3. Break down the issues into manageable tasks.
Breaking down complex issues into manageable tasks is recommended to avoid feeling overwhelmed, particularly in executive team environments where effective communication is key. You can accomplish this by specifying tasks related to data model breakdown, star schema, and fact table development, providing stakeholders with tangible progress updates.
4. Define “done” with stakeholders to avoid a development spiral.
Defining the criteria for a finalized report is critical. Without a clear understanding of what constitutes completion, report developers risk entering a perpetual development cycle. Engage in conversations with stakeholders to establish expectations and document agreed-upon criteria for a finished report.
5. Remember – there are things you cannot fix.
There are instances where certain elements cannot be fixed, such as specific stakeholder requests or constraints. Despite personal preferences, report developers may need to incorporate elements like pie charts if stakeholders find them valuable.
In summary, a systematic approach to report development, including precautionary measures, stakeholder engagement, task breakdown, clear definitions of completion, and recognition of constraints will ensure a successful outcome.
Over the years, I’ve built this handy checklist for building great reports. Designing reports from multiple sources requires careful consideration to ensure accuracy, consistency, and meaningful insights. Presenting a report in an easy to read and understandable way makes the report truly valuable.
Front End Design
- About 6- 10 insights per page
- Be mindful of using the correct visual
- Include trending visuals
- Group related metrics
- Size visuals to be readable
- Use consistent color palette
- Add clear headings & labels
- Round numbers where necessary
- Run through the report from top to bottom from left to right like reading a newspaper
Back End Design
- All columns and tables are used for either a visual or metric
- No extra metrics
- No many to many relationships (very rare cases for these)
- Metrics and data have been tested and are trusted by stakeholders
- Relationships flow the correct direction and are on the correct fields
- Organize the modeling view
- Use a calculations table to house all your metrics
- Know when to build from scratch
Check out Christina’s full demo on report building on the 3Cloud YouTube channel. You may also be interested in Revamping Power BI Reports. Incorporating modern AI tools, you can streamline complex Power BI reports and deliver new analysis with a user-friendly and data-driven reporting experience.
For more guidance on Power BI, contact us to see how we can help you make data-driven decisions by transforming raw data into meaningful insights.