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Customers Save Time & Money with Informer 5’s Aggregate Fields Reporting Functionality

The challenge with most ERP and enterprise systems is that they don’t include flexible reporting capabilities. They offer limited ad-hoc reporting at best and these custom reports can’t be scheduled, nor run on demand. As a result, business managers are stuck with legacy reports which provide minimal insight into all areas of the business.

Organizations logically turn to more robust solutions to handle their reporting and analysis needs. However, if they select a BI tool that doesn’t balance ease-of-use with the required functionality, these organizations are left with three approaches to support management reporting:

  1. Hire a consultant programmer to write custom reports. Trying to develop detailed reports using SQL to pull information from multiple locations and datasources requires employing someone with that expertise. At $200-300/hr., this is an expensive proposition because it’s time consuming to fully define use-case scenarios to get each report right. The bigger problem with this approach is, custom reports don’t offer the flexibility for users to make necessary changes to support management requests.
  2. Have in-house staff compile information manually for reporting purposes. For example, they would run a report for each warehouse to extract the necessary information, then they manually transfer each of those reports into a spreadsheet and somehow pull together the information to create a consolidated view. This is very time consuming and prone to errors.
  3. The third approach is really not a solution at all because, in this case, organizations just live without the reporting capabilities.

From a business perspective, upper-level managers often prefer to see summary information versus the details. Data aggregation is often used to project future trends and plot changes over time. Informer 5’s Aggregate functions enable you to quickly and easily summarize data from within Informer Datasets to return single values that provide more significant meaning. These functions are often used to perform calculations on a single column that could include millions of rows of data.

According to Jesse Owsley, a Project Manager at SMC Electric, a manufacturing and distribution company, “It was a breeze to query on products in multiple warehouses, sum the quantities on hand, report the average of all the average costs and also select the most recent invoice date from multiple records.”

Jesse provided three real business case examples.

Business case 1:

The VP wanted to decide whether SMC should start stocking non-stocked (special-order) products in order to provide greater customer service and reduce costs. He wanted a daily report that looked across their 12 warehouses with a 6-month view to see how many invoices included non-stocked products and the quantity sold. SMC had 50,000 stocked parts in their inventory file and one million items listed in their catalog. He contacted Jesse, who used Informer 5’s Aggregate Fields and Criteria Filtering capability, to report on the number of special-order items they were selling across all their warehouses.

Before purchasing Informer 5, SMC did this reporting manually – taking 400 hours/year
(10 minutes x 12 locations x 200 days/year). It took another 100 hours/year to gather and pull into their ERP system, all the information on non-stocked products that they wanted to stock. In total, SMC saved 500 hours a year while increasing accuracy thanks to Informer 5’s Aggregate Fields and Criteria Filtering capability.

Easily aggregate your data in many different ways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business case 2:

The manager said, I want to know, by vendor and vendor type:
• The total quantity of products by warehouse
• The average cost of all these products
• The last time we sold these products

This entailed determining the stock status by vendor, including where the product was located and where it was staged. Informer 5’s Aggregate feature made it easy to quickly pull all this information into a report for analysis and make changes to the criteria.

Informer 5’s selection criteria is easy to use

Business case 3:

The director was considering establishing a VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) agreement with a vendor. To determine the viability of this business opportunity, he wanted a daily vendor report that showed:
• Every item sold from each of their 12 locations. He did not want to see each separate invoice line. Instead, he wanted to see each product number consolidated as well as an aggregate of the number of times it was sold in a day and the aggregate quantity.

Informer 5’s Aggregate Field feature enabled Jesse to quickly and easily get the number of transactions the product was sold on as well as the aggregate quantity sold.

Summary

Informer 5 balances ease-of-use with solid functionality to make reporting and analysis straightforward and enjoyable. Sometimes managers don’t know exactly the information they want, however with Aggregate Fields and your entire curated Dataset at your fingertips, you can quickly slice and dice the data for all sorts of views. Simply select the field-column of interest and then select from the drop-down list for how you want it aggregated, and you’ve got your answer.

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Partnering with the IT organization

Many prospective customers say creating complex reports is challenging. What challenges them the most is getting data out of their systems and asking the IT staff to write the necessary queries to pull a report or create post-query filters and visuals. If the report isn’t quite right, they need to go back to IT and submit another request.

For companies with only one person who knows the database language and who can code, the dependency on that person can cause roadblocks to productivity. Unfortunately for end users, IT staff is often busy juggling many projects, so it can take a while to get a report.

IT departments have a legitimate concern with users accessing data because reports can easily become inconsistent with each other when they are created by different individuals within the organization. For organizations with an IT staff whose policy is to control the data, Informer delivers the perfect solution by enabling IT to create connections to all their different data warehouses while maintaining data governance and security over who has access to the data by using Informer Datasets.

Since the data within Datasets has been curated through the data governance process, a huge burden can be lifted from the IT staff whereby they can allocate more time to focus on critical projects. By designating a few technical people to be data owners within their respective departments, IT managers find it easier to offload more reporting responsibility to users. And, with Dataset access being granted by IT, users can create self-service reports that meet their needs.

To learn more about the functionality mentioned here or any other Informer functionality, please contact Informer Support with questions or to schedule training.

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Informer 5 delivers greater data access and extensibility

Over its existence, Informer has gone through major evolutionary changes in the areas of data access and management, data governance, and reporting. Informer 3 and Informer 4 did a great job in setting up mappings that allowed users to directly query a production database and pull reports. These earlier versions of Informer sandboxed portions of the system and fields that end users were allowed to see, and they enabled organizations to set up rules for tables that users could query.

However, Informer 3 and 4 faltered by allowing end users to create queries against the production database and pull too much data. These versions also allowed users to query tables in a way that was inefficient and slowed down the system. For example, selecting records within a multi-million row table that contained certain criteria that was not indexed.

Informer 5 Data Access

With Informer 5, we still allow for ad hoc queries against the database, but we’ve taken a huge leap forward by creating Dataset functionality. Because Datasets can be scheduled to automatically refresh on any given frequency, Admins don’t have to worry about users running queries that take all day. A great benefit in using Datasets is they are always going to be fast because they’ve already been indexed.

With Dataset capability, a DBA-type person can create a very large set of data and compartmentalize it with separate views of information that their end users can work with in a very simple and secure way. This eliminates the need to create separate sets of data for each person. This also enables you to establish strong data governance by creating a single Dataset based on your rules which include limiting users to only see portions of the data depending on their role in the organization.

Data access and end-user security are challenges faced by many organizations. However, with the Dataset’s user-based filters, Informer 5 eliminates these challenges by giving you the control and strong data governance you want. For example, when giving access to users, you can set up a filter that restricts the rows that can be seen to only a subset of that data. You can allow users to get into the data and look around, aggregate, make charts and more without worrying that they’re somehow going to backdoor their way into information from another department. Secondary-level access to a Dataset can also be enabled for a class of users who don’t even create reports, they just access data views you’ve set up.

Informer 5 Extensibility and Integration Points

A lot of the restrictions and limitations that are found in enterprise software applications are eliminated when software is designed using:

  • extensibility as a priority
  • and, an open source technology stack that provides an API structure which offers easy customization and expansion.

Extensibility, defined as the ability to easily make changes in system functionality, is enabled in a safe way within Informer 5 because of the large variety of hooks we programmed on the server-end and the user interface. Other BI companies have probably not gone to the extent we have with hooks in Informer.

Extensibility and integration points might not be at the forefront of buyers’ thinking when searching for a BI tool to purchase directly from a software provider, however, when organizations meet with VARs and integrators to discuss their requirements for a BI solution, extensibility and flexibility are often highlighted as important criteria.

Examples of Informer 5’s extensibility and integration points include:

  • You can update records with different information as they move through the system by using Informer 5 Flow extensions which incorporate company-specific ETL logic.
  • Data can be pushed into the system via Informer 5’s API. If you have data that you want to track and analyze that’s coming from some other location, you can use our REST API to pull it in and track it. One example is IoT, where connected devices, like sensors, are continuously collecting and streaming information. In this case, you’re collecting data on the fly and you’re not refreshing a Dataset but instead pushing data into it. An adapter can be written that takes that data and channels it into an Informer Dataset dedicated to collecting the sensor data. Then, we can write some code that uses our API to publish the information directly into Informer.
  • Informer 5 provides integration touchpoints designed for local deployments. For example, integrate Informer with your LDAP or Active Directory security to do single sign-on.
  • Add custom visuals to your dashboards to achieve greater insights. For example, we quickly deployed stadium mapping visuals for a customer, where the arena maps were bound to data pulled from their database. We were able to achieve that in a short amount of time because of Informer 5’s architecture.
  • Informer 5 provides collaboration integration that enables you to develop valuable content within Informer and share it across your organization. You can link to reports, visuals, images, and more.
  • From the perspective of Entrinsik’s business partners, VARs, and integrators, Informer 5’s extensibility provides many ways to adapt the system within different customer environments. Informer’s user interface and backend can be rebranded and folded into another application and distributed and licensed that way. Informer’s licensing model is also flexible and compatible with how our partners license their app.

In summary, when conducting research into a new Business Intelligence and Data Analytics solution, your organization will benefit tremendously when you select those systems that include:

  • indexed Datasets with granular control provided by user-based filters
  • extensibility that offers the flexibility and integration you will always want as you look to do more and more with the system.

To learn more about the functionality mentioned here or any other Informer functionality, please contact Informer Support with questions or to schedule training.

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