Tools for managing your report inventory (Part 2 of 2)

Part 2: This is the second and final article on tools for managing your report inventory. For the first article, please read “Tools for managing your report inventory (Part 1 of 2)“.

4. Data governance tool

Dedicated data governance tools can track information about reports as individual elements in a data dictionary or business glossary, but these tools don’t offer the benefit of compiling these reports into an overall inventory.

Pros:

  • Integration with other data governance services, such as a business glossary or metadata repository
  • Ability to trace data lineage for each data element in a report
  • Workflow configuration for adding and maintaining entries for each report
  • User management support (excluding end user)

Cons:

  • Inability to compile a  report inventory out of the box
  • Higher cost entry barrier

5. SharePoint list

Next to the Spreadsheet solution, this one is most common for any organization using SharePoint.

Pros:

  • Workflow configuration for adding and maintaining entries for each term
  • Easy to implement. You can find our free template below
  • Custom views depending on the audience (ex: you can create one for your technical staff, another for the end user)
  • Integration with other SharePoint materials and functionalities (ex: integration with a custom report request form)

Cons:

  • End users would need to login unless cross-authentication is implemented to use the log-in credentials from your machine
  • Limited possibilities customizing the look and feel of the report item details
  • Search functionality parses every report item detail – it will make it easy to search, but not very easy to find

Here’s a free SharePoint template you can download:


6.  Custom

Of course, you can always create your own custom web-based or local application, but the effort required to maintain the app would probably outweigh its benefits. I’m not going to provide more details about this option as the pros and cons can be limitless.


Final recommendation

For any of the above solutions, you should try to streamline the data entry and visualization of your report inventory by:

  1. Creating web forms capturing your report requests from end users that feed data straight into your inventory.
  2. Creating a dashboard of your list of reports with a dedicated visualization tool which would allow you to pull data from other sources besides your inventory, such as server status and access metrics. A lot of insights will be found by tracking:
  • Report usage
  • Load time, average time spent on a report, time of day/week/month a report is accessed the most
  • Number of simultaneous server calls, server latency and bandwidth
  • Overall time needed from request to production
  • Assignment of technical resources
  • The business users mostly serviced by a specific report
  • and many others

What tool are you using to maintain your report inventory and what advice can you share?

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