Selecting a new reporting solution can be a challenge. There are so many options to choose from. Do you need a BI tool? Or a project reporting tool? Do want to view reports online or downloaded or both?
We’ve got the answers you need. See what features you must have when you choose your reporting software for your organization.
1. One Click Reporting
You’re always reporting. It’s how you communicate the progress of the project to your stakeholders, but also helps you disseminated data to your team to help them do their job. Needless to add, it’s a crucial function of the job, and one that you’ll be returning to frequently throughout the project.
One of the things makes reporting difficult and the bane of many project managers, is the busy work of formatting and creating reports that capture the information you want and delivers it in an easy-to-read and well-organized way.
That’s why you want to cut out those steps. They’re taking you away from more important duties, and their just tiresome. So, you want a reporting tool that gives you a report with one click of the keyboard. A good reporting tool offers multiple standard reports to get you started, all with a single clip.
Generating a report with a click is great, but you want to have some control over the report you make. A stakeholder and a team member are going to need very different data. Therefore, you’re going to need a tool that can customize those reports quickly and easily.
For example, a stakeholder is likely only interested in broad strokes. Is the project progress as per schedule, are the costs in line with the budget, etc.? But they might want someone more specific. With filters, you can customize the report to reflect just the data you want, be it on team members, projects, tasks or schedules, just to name a few.
The last thing you want is a project reporting app that does it all, but does it with such a complex and hard-to-understand interface that you avoid it like the plague. You want the software to be intuitive and not require a weekend hitting the operating manual or, worse, an investment in training for you and your team.
As much as you might want to stay in one program, often you can’t. There’s your calendar or mail program or any other type of project management app that you use or your team uses or your stakeholder uses. Regardless of who uses it, the last thing you want to do is have to jump from program to program while trying to work.
Make sure your project reporting tool has either an Application Program Interface (API), which allows software to interact, or customer integrations within the software. For example, ProjectManager.com has a customer Google Apps for Work integration as well as Microsoft Project integration, and many more.
5. Seamless Import/Export
You want to have a holistic project management tool, one that does all the functions you require when managing a project. But sometimes there’s that errant Excel spreadsheet that mucks up the works. You got to either refer to it outside of your project reporting tools or manually punch in the data so you can get all the flexibility you’ve grown accustomed to with your software.
When you can import that spreadsheet, however, then if you are accustomed to starting you task list in Excel, you don’t have to break that habit. Just import that document into your software. It will ask you to name the columns, but all the other data will import without you having to redo the formatting.
If you’re part of an organization that uses Microsoft Project, you can even import MS Project files, with no formatting issues. That means you can edit and work nimbler in your reporting tool, then export the document back to MS Project, keeping all your changes intact. That saves you time and money.
6. Multiple Formats
It might not seem like much, but have options is always best. You have no idea how a stakeholder might request how you share reports. They might want them in Excel or as a PDF, they could even as for a Word doc. Therefore, you want to have a software that can save your reports in a variety of formats to suit your needs and the needs of your team and stakeholder.
Reporting is communicating, and communicating is not a one-way street. You generate reports, but then you must share them with your team or stakeholders in some fashion. Whether you’re making a presentation to sponsors or just attaching a file to an email to disseminate among your team, you need a reporting solution that allows you to do this with ease.
Your reporting software should give you options. If you want to create an attachment to add to an email, it should be able to do that. Or if you prefer to share it online or download it, even print it, you want to have choices and make the final decision on how to share your reports, not be limited by software restrictions.
8. Real-Time Dashboard
With real-time software you’re pulling in data to your system as it’s updated by your team, giving you the most accurate picture of your project at that time. Whenever they update a status or their timesheet, the software reflects those changes, without you having to do a thing.
You’re not viewing historic data, but have your eyes on what is happening at that moment in the project, which means your reports will be more accurate. It also means that if a stakeholder wants to drill down into greater detail, you have access to that information, as it’s happening. You can bring up whatever data they want to see, when they want to see it.
9. Automation and Notifications
Here’s another tip for getting the most out of your reporting tools. Getting data as it happens is not going to be of any use to you unless you can somehow be kept updated on the progress of your project. You could manually collect your information and calculate the figures to see where you stand in the schedule or you could visit your dashboard, which is doing this for you.
But there’s an even simpler solution. If your project report has automation you can set up reminders about when tasks are due, and have them sent out to your team. Then, when the team completes a task, you are notified. This way no deadlines slip through the cracks and you’re able to stay on top of the project without having to remind yourself to check in and monitor the work.
10. Beautiful Looking
When your business intelligence software has a dashboard, then you don’t have to know graphic design or struggle with some other application to turn your dull numbers into a thing of beauty. The tool does it for you, automatically. Using a project status dashboard makes reporting a breeze.
If you’re looking for a reporting tool that gives you real-time data and makes the tasks of report less of a hassle, then give ProjectManager.com a try. It’s a cloud-based software that connects you to every aspect of the project and the project team, automating simple tasks and streamlining the generation of reports to make your job that much easier. See for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.