Self-Service Reporting is part of self-service business intelligence. It enables the users to generate reports and gain insight from data in a data warehouse. These users are the typical business users and not BI specialists. Self-Service Reporting reduces the burden on the IT department and frees up resources, while generally leading to better and more thought out business decisions. This contrasts with the traditional approach, where the business users rely on the IT department to setup the whole BI solution, including standardised reports and dashboards.
With self-service BI and therefore with self-service reporting, the business users themselves are taught how to gain insight into the company’s data. This approach increases the effectiveness of a BI solution, as the users can conduct their own analysis and get better information out of the underlying data than the IT department without business knowledge could. 1)
With self-service reporting and self-service BI in general, there are a few things to consider: While business users with deep business knowledge can gain better insight into the data, if they can build their own reports, they have to be administered by the IT to avoid missinterpretation of the data.2)
The BI tool should use an intuitive and simple GUI. Using Excel can be helpful, as many business users are already used to using Excel for data extraction. Having an easy to use, yet powerful tool, is a vital part in getting the users to actually use a BI solution. 3)
Different users have different analysis and reporting needs. Users should be differentiated into Power Users, Business Users and Upper Management and each of these groups has to be considered, when implementing a BI tool and managing access rights.4)
Before users can construct their own reports, they should be trained how to use the BI tool and what the data means.5)
The complexity of the information model should be reduced or business users should only have access to data of a certain granularity. 6)
It can sometimes be helpful to have a common dictionary of technical terms, so that there is no ambiguity or misunderstanding of the terms used in the self-service BI tool. The IT should also define core metrics and performance indications, so that there is no unnecessary confusion. A data governance policy can be very helpful with this. 7)
There has to be a right management system in place, so that only privileged users have access to confidential data and there is no possibility of unauthorized access. This is important for legal reasons and to protect the business integrity. A special focus should lie on power users, as these can have almost unrestricted access to the data warehouse. 8)
Self-service reporting is a very important part of getting acceptance for a BI solution in a company. It takes work from the IT departments directly to the business users, which in return can gain better insight in the business and its data. Decisions based on self-service reporting are generally more thought out and better than decisions based on standard reports generated by the IT department.