Monthly Archives: September 2012

Top 5 Worst Reporting Practices

Typically we write about best practices with the goal of helping clients as they work proactively.    The goal of this blog post is to help you evaluate your reports to see if they suffer from typical maladies so you can work on improving them.  Use this list as a guideline to see if you can improve a report design.

The Kitchen Sink Report –  8.5 x 14, 22 Columns, 7 Point Font

I find many client reports growing in columns over time.  This makes the report difficult to read as there are hundreds of numbers per page and the font is very small.  While some audit reports need to look like this, it is better to have drill through reports for managers and staff.  For example, a top-level report might show total estimate; the drill through can show original estimate and change order columns.

No Date / Time Stamp

Without the date and time showing on a report, users will be rerunning it repeatedly as they won’t know if the data on a printed report is current.

Generic Report Name –.e.G. “Job Report” or “Property Report”

A full title immediately tells the user what the report is for.  Without a useful title, you are asking the reader to spend time reviewing the columns to interpret the report’s purpose.

Sorting on an Obtuse Field

If you are running an accounts receivable, accounts payable or tenant report that sorts by the record key, you may be asking the reader to hunt for information.  If your record keys look like “ABCD1234,” users outside of accounting will have to scan names to find what they are looking for.  Sorting on customer, vendor or tenant name is more intuitive.

Writing a report that takes too long to run

If your report is complex make sure it runs in decent time.   Readers want information on a timely basis and don’t like waiting for reports to run – often these reports sit unused on menus.  Solutions like Anterra SQL Data Center can speed up the processing of complex reports, especially when you are consolidating information.

We’ll be blogging about reporting best practices as well. As always we appreciate any feedback or ideas you can share.

The Definition of Business Intelligence for Construction and Real Estate

The term “Business Intelligence” is very generic and often thought of as “dashboards and scorecards”.   The definition of business intelligence is broader than that – the best definition we’ve found is:

Business intelligence (BI) is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance.

Gartner Group

It’s important to think about BI in broader terns than dashboards – to improve and optimize decisions and performance you need to

  1. Design dashboards and reports based on the role of the person using them. Consider the purpose of each component of a reporting package – the design of dashboards and reports should support the “use cases” of the roles using it.  What decisions does a project manager make or what risks does a property manager need to monitor?
  2. The processes to create the data underlying reports need to be consistent and accurate – garbage in, garbage out
  3. Information needs to be timely.  For example a balance needs to be struck in closing of GL month ends between making accrual guesses and waiting for information to come in. Issuing financial statements on the 10th of the next month with a few accruals is better than waiting until the 25th so budget variances can be acted upon earlier

We’ve had the privilege of working with industry leading construction and real estate companies to hone their reporting into clear, actionable information for each major role in their organization.  Once your staff gets the information to help them succeed in their role they spend far more time working on the business and less time fire fighting.


Welcome to our Blog!

Welcome to Anterra’s blog!  We want to share our knowledge and experience with other real estate and construction professionals.  Our main goals include:

Business Intelligence Technology for Construction and Real Estate
We’ll help you understand business intelligence technology and discuss how technology can help your business.

Business Intelligence Best Practices for Construction and Real Estate
We’ll show how to keep your fingers on the pulse of your business with topics such as job margin analysis, work backlog monitoring, projecting available cash and designing meaningful reports.

If you have any ideas for topics or want to see something specific covered please drop us an email at moc.h1585471655cetar1585471655retna1585471655@ofni1585471655.

By |September 21st, 2012|Blog Post|0 Comments