self-service reporting

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How Informer 5 Enhances Ellucian Student Systems


Colleges and universities consist of multiple schools (Business, Law, Arts, Science, etc.), each having many departments with substantial reporting and data integration requirements. These departments include the Registrar’s Office, Institutional Research, Financial Aid, Academic areas, Student Accounts, Finance, Admissions, and HR.

Many of these institutions run their operations using Ellucian Colleague or Ellucian Banner ERP systems. These solutions provide functionality that includes:

  • Admissions, scholarships, and financial aid
  • Student information such as inquiries, applications, student addresses, prior schools attended, SAT scores, grades, GPA, majors & minors, hours completed, and graduation information
  • Information on all classes
  • Accounting and finances, fixed assets, A/R, A/P, and vendor information
  • HR and payroll
  • Alumni information.

Reporting Challenges with Colleague and Banner

The file systems within these ERP solutions are known to have significant complexity. For example, Colleague is built on a UniData MultiValue database, which operates differently than SQL. It has complexity associated with the database schema, file structures, mappings, and more. As a result, institutions hire IT specialists to create standard and custom reports. Users still might not get the correct data in their reports because it’s possible to find 6 or 7 very similar field names. IT must also be involved if reporting and data integration needs to be changed.

Without having a user-friendly point and click interface in Colleague, analyzing data is often challenging for end-users, especially when the data is continuously changing.

Institutional leaders also face decision making challenges caused by the lack of standardized reporting between different schools and departments. What’s required is a reporting and data integration system that provides:

  • A single source of truth for data across the institution
  • Standard selection criteria for reporting
  • Consistent reporting formats.

Due to the challenges mentioned above, administrators often resort to using multiple manual processes. Many times, administrators create reports manually because data is in different systems or they don’t have access to the data. For example, some administrators print all the transcripts to identify and report on who is graduating, which takes much time. Not only does this significantly increase the length of time to create reports, but it also increases the likelihood of errors. They can do this in 5 minutes with Informer 5.

Creating a Self-Service Knowledge Center with Informer 5

Informer 5 makes it quick and efficient for people to access real-time data to perform analysis and produce reports and visuals that users can interact with by grouping, sorting, filtering, and more, despite these ERP systems having a tremendous number of data fields and complicated schema. Informer 5’s functionality and ease of use are also the top benefits that institutions appreciate.

Institutions quickly transition from being a heavily IT-dependent reporting environment to a self-service knowledge center with Informer 5. Management and staff find the new reporting and data integration capability a significant game-changer. They create reports, run them when they want, and share them securely with everyone soon after Informer 5 implementation.

People also find it much easier to share reports with their colleagues thanks to Informer 5’s ability to embed dashboards containing exceptional visuals. Many schools use dashboards for reporting because users find them convenient for getting all the information they need on one screen.

Automating Reporting Workflows with Informer 5

Informer 5 is an indispensable tool for departments to schedule their day-to-day work. For example, schools use Informer Reports to identify students who have their enrollment information either ready to be packaged for review or highlighted if the information is still missing. Reminders are then automatically sent to the students.

Informer 5 also makes it easy to merge criteria for reporting. For example, administrators at some institutions spend multiple days manually gathering data from different systems to create a report that identifies honors and probation students and drafting individual letters to those students. Informer 5 removes that complexity by automating the process. Users complete this process within a day by selecting the criteria for merging data, downloading the information into Excel, and then using the data with Word and Mail Merge.

Institutions also use Informer 5 to support their quality control initiatives by keeping departments informed if something out of the ordinary happens. For example, users can schedule Reports that say, “give me the students when certain information doesn’t match or where the social security number is missing.” Managers can also have a Report that isolates specific records that need to be reviewed instead of reviewing all the data.

Informer 5 Provides a Single Source of Truth

Colleges and universities often choose 3rd party applications to augment some of Colleague or Banner’s functionality, including:

  • Salesforce for contact management
  • ADP for payroll
  • Workday for HR/payroll
  • Slate CRM for Admissions recruitment
  • Raiser’s Edge for fundraising.

Information contained within these different systems creates the need for a single source of truth for reporting. With Informer 5, users no longer need to run separate reports in each application and then combine the output manually. Informer 5’s Datasets automatically blend this disparate data to create a centralized, curated data hub for analysis and reporting.

Informer 5 facilitates effective data governance by providing cleansed and standardized data that users can access to create their reports, such as pivot tables and charts.

Lastly, Informer 5 also supports an institution’s security initiative. For example, IT can lock down users with criteria that determines who gets access to what and when, and how much of it they get. IT also maintains control by authorizing users to access, generate, and share reports with confidence.


Some colleges still lack adequate and efficient reporting tools. Consequently, people who need information are dependent on IT and may wait many days, or even weeks, for reports. Alternatively, the ability to retrieve data from multiple sources, transform it and create a self-service reporting and analysis environment for end-users results in timelier, data-driven decisions.

Colleges and universities throughout North America have found Informer 5 to be the ideal business intelligence solution. Integrating data from Colleague and other systems to create a centralized data hub — one that is curated and secure for reliable analysis and reporting — is invaluable for not only management decision making, but also employee morale and productivity.

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To learn more about Informer 5’s many capabilities, please call 888-703-0016, or contact

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Informer 5’s Secure FTP Feature Saves Time and Effort

Informer 5 is well known for its powerful and easy to use analysis and reporting functionality. What’s less known is the fact that Informer also helps organizations improve efficiency by simplifying the process of transferring data between systems.

Informer’s Jobs Scheduling Feature Streamlines the FTP Process

You can easily generate a report that includes data based on the specifications provided by a vendor you’re working with, in the required format, and send the files via secure FTP to the vendor’s systems, with Informer’s Jobs Scheduling feature.

For example, at colleges and universities, teachers need to choose books for their courses. This process requires that course and session information, created within their Ellucian Colleague or Banner ERP system, be transferred to the institution’s bookstore database. The bookstore (managed by an external vendor) needs to know what courses are taught daily, so their software can show the courses offered along with the associated faculty.

Before Informer 5…

An institution’s IT team face a complicated set of tasks that include:

  • Generating the file based on the bookstore’s specifications that include, the term, courses taught in the upcoming semester, the professor, and other details
  • Uploading the file onto a server
  • Creating a nightly scheduled report containing the file
  • Writing a script saying, ‘pick up this file’, include FTP credentials with log-in and key, then send the file out to the bookstore’s FTP servers

The bookstore’s IT staff then logs into the secure FTP and pulls the information into their database.

With Informer 5’s secure FTP functionality…

Institutions can automate multiple tasks within one process. Without the need for a script, a simple schedule is set that says, “send this file out to that server and here are the credentials”. Every night the schedule runs automatically, and the file appears in the vendor’s servers.

California Lutheran University Simplifies the FTP Process

California Lutheran University is an example of an institution struggling with the issue involving a complicated set of tasks with their FTP process. Their goal in selecting a new BI solution was to eliminate those extra steps.

With Informer, California Lutheran University simplified the FTP process. They liked that a report can be launched and shared across departments in one straightforward move. According to Michael Graham, the Director of Administrative Information Services, “The registrar’s office was excited not to need to use FTP anymore. All they wanted to do was launch the report, export the report, and load it into Excel or whatever format they needed. The registrar’s office loves having the ability to put in a PDF, with our watermark, and they can give that to department chairs to show the data in many different formats.”

Michael has found it invaluable to have the credentials and all necessary information within Informer, so when he sends the file, he knows it’s secure and based on the correct specifications. As a bonus, Informer 5 also enables him to send files to a shared drive for easy and secure access.

To learn more about Informer 5’s many capabilities, please call 888-703-0016, or contact

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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.


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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Entrinsik Informer Named Top Performer in Winter 2019 Business Intelligence Software Customer Success Report

Raleigh, NC - February 18, 2019 - Entrinsik Informer (, has been named a Top Performer in the Business Intelligence Software category for the Winter 2019 Customer Success Report published by FeaturedCustomers. FeaturedCustomers is the leading customer success content marketing platform for B2B business software & services helping potential B2B buyers make informed purchasing decisions through vendor validated customer success content such as customer testimonials, success stories, case studies, and customer videos.

FeaturedCustomers evaluated all the potential Business Intelligence Software companies on its platform for possible inclusion in the report. Only 34 companies meet the criteria needed for being included in the Winter 2019 Business Intelligence Software Customer Success Report. Entrinsik Informer received an overall score of 93 earning a Top Performer award in the category.

The Customer Success Report is based on the curation of authenticated case studies, testimonials, and reviews from across the web, telling a complete story of vendors in the Business Intelligence Software space through real customer experiences. Scores are determined by multiple factors including number of total reviews, customer success content, social media presence, and vendor momentum based on web traffic and search trends.

The Top Performer designation is awarded to vendors with significant market presence and enough customer success content to validate their vision. Highly rated by customers, Entrinsik Informer consistently publishes high quality vendor produced customer success content and curate’s quality customer reviews from multiple third-party sites.

The full report, along with Entrinsik Informer’s profile, which includes detailed product scorecards is available for you to download here:

"This marks the 2nd year FeaturedCustomers’ Customer Success Report has focused on business intelligence tools and the 2nd year Entrinsik has been recognized for Informer’s market-leading business intelligence solution and dedication to delivering the highest-level in customer support,says Doug Leupen, President and CEO at Entrinsik.

About Entrinsik Informer:

Entrinsik Informer 5 is a robust, extensible data discovery and analytics platform that simplifies the process of accessing, cleansing, blending, and analyzing on-prem and cloud data. Based on a single web-based platform, Informer 5 makes it easy for organizations to aggregate disparate data to create a cohesive, curated, governed data hub for self-service data analysis. Because of its open-source API-based architecture, Informer easily integrates with various CRM, ERP and enterprise systems within various industries including Higher Education, Insurance, Manufacturing & Distribution, Healthcare, Public Safety, Not-for-Profit, Government, and many others.

About FeaturedCustomers:

FeaturedCustomers, the world’s only customer reference platform for B2B business software & services, helps potential B2B buyers research and discover business software & services through vendor validated customer reference content such as customer testimonials, success stories, case studies, and customer videos. Every day their platform helps influence the purchasing decisions of thousands of B2B buyers in the final stages of their buying cycle from Fortune 500 companies to SMB’s. For more information, visit their website.

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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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Functionality That Differentiates Informer 5

Entrinsik’s data analytics and BI platform, Informer, radically simplifies the process of accessing, cleansing, blending, and analyzing disparate data by using a single platform to create a cohesive, curated, governed data hub for self-service data analysis across organizations. Informer facilitates self-service reporting using Informer Datasets and Filtering. Informer minimizes self-service reporting errors because you are starting from a common baseline of curated data – a Dataset within Informer. The platform also facilitates collaboration which enables people to comment on reports, share insights, and more. There are several areas of functionality that our customers find highly beneficial and that differentiate Informer from other self-service reporting solutions.

  • Saved Filters. If you can look at a Dataset and write a filter – which you can do easily with Informer – you can save that filter to use when creating a report. The filter you create for the Dataset represents important criteria you’ve established for pulling in the data you want within your Dataset. Maybe you need “current transactions for today” or “transactions of employees that live in a certain state.” Such filters are available to all users that have access to the dataset. You can define very complicated filters for users and they simply add them with a couple of clicks.
  • Informer Discover. Informer’s Discover feature is ideal for self-service reporting. Often, users have a specific question to ask of their data. They log on to the reporting tool, get the answer, and they are done. However much of the time, users don’t have a finite question to ask; they want to see significant trends or groupings in the data but may not know where to start looking. Discover solves that by enabling you to click on specific columns like “state” and “order amount,” and Informer immediately displays charts relevant to those aggregations. Users then have an immediate visualization to interact with to help tell if those aggregations are significant.
    For example, let’s say you click on a state and get a distribution for all the orders for the last three days, and the numbers are the same per state. Maybe the geographic distribution for those orders is not significant, but maybe in your business plan you’re spending marketing dollars evenly across certain states per capita. You see sales are a lot better in one of those states and click on that state and see the numbers are skewed a lot more there. Well, you’ve just piqued your curiosity and start thinking this is something to investigate. You may even find it worthy of a report, all by simply clicking the button and immediately viewing the trend. People may not necessarily know what questions to ask when conducting data analysis. That’s not unusual with self-service reporting. However, the answers they start seeing with Discover may stimulate additional questions to ask.
    If you click on sales people in Discover, you may notice their sales are spiking up. From there you can further aggregate, or drill down into the data, even map the orders. Discover makes it easy for you because you can simply check a box and instantly see those aggregations.
  • Informer Collaboration. Another differentiator is Informer’s collaboration functionality. Maybe you want people to view your data, but you don’t want everyone looking at it because the information might not be ready for everyone to review. With Informer’s sharing capability, you can do that. For example, I may be a member within an Informer Team but I may not know anything about a particular Dataset. Maybe I started clicking some of the check boxes in Discover and think, “Wow, Bob’s sales are through the roof so I’m going to create an Informer report and keep it within my Team. I’m also going to send a comment to the Team and say, ‘this needs further exploring, but my database expertise isn’t as good as some of you. Can you look at this with me and see if there’s a way to tweak this to provide an answer for why Bob is doing so good?’”.
  • Single Source of Truth. Given Entrinsik’s many years of designing and supporting BI and reporting software, we found that self-service reporting is both a blessing and a curse. For example, someone might start thinking they’re getting solid answers on a database query they’ve written to answer a certain question. Other people might be running different queries to try to get the answer to the same question. Ironically, quite often the answers differ. Who is right? Maybe the reason the results differ is because in one person’s query, practice orders and refunds are eliminated from the set of current orders; one user knows about those nuances, whereas another might not. Having these two sets of numbers out there, and carrying equal weight, can lead to inconsistencies in the overall analysis of company data.
    Informer solves this problem by putting the power in your hands to curate data, so you can make sure people see what they need to see. When your Informer Dataset is curated by someone who understands its value of providing a single source of truth, you eliminate a lot of situations like, “My numbers didn’t come out the same as Bob’s numbers; why is that? I just spent countless hours trying to figure out why that is.”  Unproductive time and money wasted on people spending time trying to reconcile different answers is eliminated with Informer’s curated Datasets. With Informer Datasets, you’ve now got a single source of truth where you can say, “I’m going to make a Dataset of current orders and this is it, and anyone who wants to report on orders uses this Dataset”. That delivers ROI to your organization.
    Another reason a curated Dataset is preferred is that no database table that I’ve ever seen has perfect data in it.  There are always transactions that are entered wrong and there are always rows that don’t belong — they still exist because in the past, we ignored them. People will also tell you they take data from a reporting tool, dump it into Excel, and within Excel, they eliminate the rows that are wrong. There is a better way!  The Informer Dataset can be “that Excel place” where you toss out the junk. One of the common uses of Informer is for people to find bad data in a database and cleaning it up.
    Here’s a hypothetical example:  I’m the one who knows how to create Informer Datasets in our organization and I’m going to create a Dataset based on how people are using Excel spreadsheets. I talk to people and we all agree this is what the current orders and corresponding Dataset needs to be. So, I write my query for current orders and I’ve also been told by Joan in Accounting “You have to eliminate all the orders with ‘Type X’ because those aren’t real orders”. So, I add within my Dataset the following criteria: ‘take out type X’. And she also says take out all the orders that have negative values because those are also junk. So, I add that to my criteria.  And maybe there are a combination of fields that can’t be done with a query, however it can be done with an Informer Data Flow step.
  • Data Flow. A Data Flow is simply the stream of data from an initial source, often a database query, into the final Informer Dataset. A flow step is an operation that a designer can add to the Data Flow. A flow step can restructure data, add to the data, calculate on the data, and it can also clean the data. Using flow steps, you can go through each row and say, ‘if this is true for this row, toss it out of the Dataset’. So, you can toss out certain records that just don’t belong. You can run calculations across columns that may span across multiple data sources. You can run multiple pass calculations. You can create scores based on multiple factors in a row. The possibilities are limitless.

In conclusion, with Informer, you have oversight and governance of the data, because the curator constructed the Dataset and the rules (Filtering and Data Flows) which were agreed upon. The result is, you have the “golden standard” of that data for everyone conducting self-service reporting. This maybe an ongoing process but people don’t have to worry about what’s good and what’s bad because the curation process takes care of that.

For more please contact or call 888-703-0016.

This article was written by Andrew Morovati
Informer Chief Solutions Architect

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