Crystal Reports are a very powerful business intelligence tool which can be used to display information about your company in easy to digest report formats that can be disseminated to your business users. Their flexibility and adaptability allow them to query data from a wide variety of databases to derive actionable reports. With an experience report designer on your team you can use Crytal Report for everything from financial reports for your executives, to internal operations documents, to invoices and statements of account for customers. However, getting your reports designed to show relevant information is only the first step of the processs. You then need to run the report as frequently as it is required, and then distribute it to those that require it.
Manually running your reports can be a tedious and time consuming activity for your administrators. Larger reports can sometimes take a while to run, perhaps five or ten minutes. When reports need to be fed a series of different parameters depending on their user this can obviously multiple the time required by however many iterations of the report is required. Then there may be several different formats of the report may be required by different users. This means that the adminsitrator is going to have to convert the .rpt file into perhaps a PDF, Excel or Word document so that the end user can view it, edit it or incorporate it into a larger document.
Once the reports have been generated and correctly formatted the time comes to distribute them to the business users. This typcially involves an administrator going through an email list and sending the appropriate report as an email attachment to the relevant parties. Other companies use shared network locations where reports can be accessed or use services such as Sharepoint or Dropbox to share their reports. To get the report into these locations the adminstrator is going to have to open them up and paste in the report, perhaps creating a folder structure and naming convention while doing so.
While all of this manual reporting may have made sense five years the current reality is that most companies can ill afford to expend resources carrying out all of the tasks outlined above. The time lag alone involved in requesting a report to actually receiving it is enough to make any company reconsider their approach. The resources wasted carrying out the task should confirm the point.
All of these task can be carried out automatically using report scheduling software. Once you have created a schedule you can dynamically feed the report with the parameters it requires, and produce a report in the format that the user requires. Once generated the report can then be automatically forwarded to the business user's email address with the report attached, or embedded in the email, or both. The report can also be automatically placed in a shared folder location with a notification email or SMS sent to the user to let them know that the report is now available. Setting up schedules for your reporting also allows your reports to be generated overnight, when there is less loads on servers, so that your staff have all of the reports they need for that day awaiting them when they arrive to work.
To find out how you can use report scheduling software to automate your manual reporting with Crystal Reports sign up for a free trial of our CRD for Crystal Report software and one of our implementation specialists will be in touch to help you get started.
The telecommunications industry has been a leader in the adoption of business intelligence technologies to refine the processes carried out and service their customers more effectively. Given the industry's high-tech specialties they are generally an early adopter of new technologies and when it comes to business intelligence and report scheduling and automation this has certainly proven to be the case.
As diverse as the industry is we will attempt to identify some of the major areas where benefits can be derived. The first is with major providers to the retail markets. These enterprises have millions of customers who typically are provided with a bill for usage at the end of every month. This is the case for home phones, mobile phones, internet service providers and cable television providers. In many cases the home-based products are packaged and served by a single provider, allowing for cost savings for the customer. A business intelligence system can analyze the usage patterns of customers in order to provide them with a tailored package which best suits their needs.
Then a report scheduling system can be employed to forward bills to customers via traditional mail or email as soon as they are available. SMS notification can also be scheduled so that customers are instantly aware of when their payments are due. Follow-up emails and notifications to call center staff can also be arranged on an event-driven basis, if the customer's bill has remained unpaid for a period of time.
For telecommunications companies who have retail outlets or provide equipment for sale in partners' retail establishments there is a constant need for sales and inventory monitoring. Business intelligence software can be used to determine daily sales across the breadth of the company. These can in turn be analysed in order to commit resources to replenishment of stock levels through manufacturing or procurement from a supply chain. Virgin Mobile is an example of a major mobile company which used this technology to realise large increases in the efficiencies in operations of their supply chain.
Territories which have below average sales can be targeted for increases in marketing budgets or special offers in order to regain traction. The ability to respond rapidly to changes in the market in this manner is a key component to retaining competitive advantage in fast-moving markets such as the smartphone market.
Telecommunication companies dealing with larger corporate and government clients can avail of this technology for delivering performance, usage and other types of feedback reports. Zintel Group implemented report scheduling to automatically forward call reports to their 4,000 clients, saving over $100,000 in the process.
Aviation professionals are becoming acutely aware of the necessity of using report automation technology for maintenance report scheduling. Due to the size and scale of aviation MRO processes, there is a vast ocean of technical information that needs to be processed by MRO professionals in the aviation industry. A major problem that airlines have encountered is that manual, paper driven reporting can’t keep up with changing realities, especially when major maintenance events and overhaul initiatives are in play.
Airline and MRO professionals have assembled in conferences, such as the SAP airlines summit to help resolve the problem of how airlines can improve efficiency, safety and compliance by moving to electronic processes. They have discovered that switching to report automation radically expedites the implementation of changes and processing of major events, in such a way that processes that used to take several months can now be accomplished in a matter of days. This is only one of several benefits that report automation provides to aviation maintenance professionals. Let’s take a look at some other examples:
Usage based maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to aircraft safety and it is imperative for airlines to ensure their fleets are being maintained properly. Using manual reporting, the logistics of keeping track of the usage of aircraft and using that information to dictate maintenance scheduling, make it virtually unmanageable. What airlines have opted to do instead is to change machinery on time-schedules regardless of use. This means that unused aircraft are maintained at the same rate as active aircraft, creating a lot of waste but ultimately ensuring that all aircraft are in good condition before takeoff.
Report automation can eliminate the waste of resources associated with time-based scheduling, while maintaining safety standards through event-based scheduling. Advanced report automation software, such as Christian Steven Software’s Crystal Report Distributor can have reports sent out instantly and automatically when events take place, creating greater awareness of aircraft usage. This means that after a predetermined amount of use, aircraft can serviced by maintenance staff, who will be informed through an automatically generated report that the aircraft is ready for maintenance. This creates greater efficiency and as a result related expenditures will be significantly reduced.
Reduced administrative costs: Manual reporting is not only slower than automated reporting, but it is also more expensive. Once report automation processes are set up, the software generates and sends reports automatically without the need for administrative maintenance. Due to the high amount of work orders and reports that airlines need to process on a daily basis, administration associated with manual reporting can be quite costly. Report automation eliminates the need for these costs by reducing the number of work hours related to report generation.
Improved customer service: Communicating effectively with customers is an integral part of maintaining customer satisfaction. The more information aviation maintenance professionals provide to customers about work orders, the more confident customers will be that their order will be processed properly. Rather than generating an email to internal customers that says “your request is being processed”, it would be better to send an email providing details about each customer’s request so that they can confirm that their order will match their expectations. The scale of aviation maintenance operations prevents administrators from sending out a customized report to each customer manually. With report automation, customized reports can be generated automatically and can provide the customer with a detailed email describing the work to be completed along with photos of the equipment or machinery involved.
Many airlines have already applied report automation to improve the efficiency, safety and accuracy of their operations and are already reaping the benefits. Cessna, an aircraft manufacturer which has sold and delivered more aircraft than any other company in history, uses Christian Steven Software’s Crystal Report Distributor to manage their reporting. As a result, they have saved $200,000 a year and $1.4 million over seven years on a single maintenance operation alone by switching from time-based to usage-based maintenance. By eliminating manual processing of work orders and reports, they have saved over 1,000 work hours per year, getting a full return on their initial investment three months after purchasing the software. They have also greatly improved their customer service levels through more detailed communication between Cessna maintenance engineering and its internal customers.
Find out what Christian Steven Software can do for your company. For more information on how other companies have used our software successfully, visit our Case Studies section, or download a free trial of our software to get started today automating your own report workflows.
This week we check in with Max Pucher, who dusted off some blog posts from his long-running blog on the subject of Business Process Management. Making the rounds in social media this week in particular was this gem: The Texas Two-Step of BPM and ACM. ACM stands for Adaptive Case Management.
And we also want to recognize Michael Menard, who released an important book this week about, among other things, the role of business process optimization in selecting the right projects, as well as the importance and impact to businesses of making the right choices. The book is called, "A Fish in Your Ear: The New Discipline of Project Portfolio Management". It is available for purchase from Amazon.