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Data, information, and insights are all around us. To exceed your potential and stand out in an increasingly competitive market, there is always a new business plan to make, a new strategy to develop, a new report to generate - and they all take time. Since massive amounts of information are generated by every second, businesses are always on the lookout for the best possible online data analysis tools - innovations that will ultimately make their processes easier, faster, and more effective.
Productivity has become the epitome of successful professional processes. While every manager seeks how to increase productivity and decrease costs, some invaluable processes can push toward sustainable development - fortunately, automated reporting and systems are the way forward.
That said, in this post, we will explain what is an automated report and its benefits, the ins and outs of the process, and finish with examples from the real business world.
After reading this article, you will be equipped to create your own autonomous practice, understand the fundamentals of reports automation, and enhance your analytical capabilities with the help of a modern online reporting software.
Let's get started.
What Is An Automated Report?
An automated report is a management tool used by professionals to create and share organizational reports at a specific time interval without the need to update the information each time. These updates are usually made in real-time with the help of smart reporting tools.
These reports completely eliminate traditional means of communicating data since they rely on business reporting software that uses cutting-edge BI, technology, and smart features such as interactivity, a drag-and-drop interface, and predictive analytics, among others. These reports have the power to store all your insights and generate beautiful dashboards that can tell your data narrative in a simple, visual way.
The technology behind these insights will enable triggers so that you don't have to manually check if an unexpected organizational event occurs or export multiple spreadsheets to generate one single file.
Benefits Of An Automated Reporting System
Now that we’re up to speed with the concept of smart reporting, let’s look at the benefits. First of all, when asking yourself the question, “Why should I use report automation?” the short answer should be, “why not?”
Report automation will improve your business at its core, empowering you to develop strategies and initiatives that are better than your competitors’. To put this into perspective, here’s a rundown of the main benefits of using automation reporting for your company.
- Time & cost savings: If you automate reports, you will save colossal amounts of time and money on manually tracking, updating, and adding key information to the mix. Naturally, time and money are correlated, so by automating reports, you will reap the rewards of valuable data-driven insights while empowering your team to place their efforts into more creative or strategic activities. In addition, an automated reporting system is designed to provide accurate, dynamic, and highly visual insights that will bestow your organization with greater intelligence. In turn, this will improve your decision-making while giving you the insight to streamline any inefficiencies in your processes and, ultimately, save you more money while generating more profit.
- Accessibility, transparency & productivity: By serving up autonomous insights from one central location, automatic reports will give everyone in the organization the tools to perform better in their individual roles while benefiting from shared visualizations that are robust, reliable, and accurate. As modern automated reporting tools are easy to use and understand, everyone will find them accessible. As they will ensure all of your essential insights are up to date, it’s possible to use autonomous reports to support discussions in collaborative brainstorming sessions or team meetings, leading to increased creative output. The result? A more transparent, more collaborative environment that will keep your teams connected with each other, leading to increased productivity across the board, and a business built for sustainable growth.
- Real-time decision-making: When using manual reporting tools or processes, it’s easy to get bogged down. In addition to this, more cumbersome reporting processes return data that is harder to understand and often inaccurate. With automated reports, you will gain access to accurate data presented in the form of visual KPI metrics - information that benefits real-time decision-making. In essence, this style of reporting provides clarity. It is simple to set up and serves up real-time data that users can leverage with a simple glance. If you see an issue emerging, you will be able to consult your t and make an informed, accurate decision that will save you time, money, or an organizational headache.
- Growth & development: The above elements, coupled with the fact that you can access report automation tools 24/7 from multiple devices, mean that by embracing this innovative branch of data analytics, you will set your company up for ongoing growth and development. With the help of an interactive digital dashboard, you can respond to constant change with confidence while maintaining a level of innovation that will give you an all-important edge on the competition at all times. This is an asset that’s invaluable in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
- Reduce the risk of human error: Another key benefit of automating reports is the fact that it leaves less room for human error. A small analytical or administrative error can cost your company time and money. But by using reports automation technology, you will drive down the need for laborious manual data entry, connecting with insights that are digestible, accurate, and reliable in equal measures.
- Improve compliance: When dashboards are generated automatically, and it is possible to ensure delivery at the right time and location, compliance becomes more accessible and routine. In our data-driven age, informational compliance is critical to ensure your organization remains credible, legal, and trustworthy. Automated reporting will ensure you stay on the right side of the red tape at all times.
Report Automation Tips, Tricks & Tools
67% of business decision-makers believe implementing digital or software solutions is vital to remain competitive.
The potential of automation certainly has a positive impact on productivity levels since the entire workforce can focus on more human-centric tasks while embarking on deeper discussions surrounding the meaning of the data, migrating away from tedious tasks and manual calculations in the process. But how does this look in practice?
To make sure you make the most out of autonomous reporting, before you start, answer these critical questions and consider these tips or tricks.
1. What are my reporting needs?
First of all, it’s important to consider your specific informational needs. Depending on what you believe will benefit from increased intelligence or efficiency (you might feel that you need to improve your customer service communications without hindering productivity, for instance), you can make informed decisions on the types of features, dashboards, and visualizations that will best suit your organization. At this point, it’s also worth considering who will be working with your automation reports and the kind of insights of functionality they will need to succeed.
Take the time to work through your specific needs and you will form solid foundations for your next automatic reporting question…
2. What kind of KPIs do I need to integrate?
KPIs are the center of each tool and you need to communicate them clearly and on-point. Choosing the most important ones to generate a comprehensive narrative should be your first step in automating reports. By creating visuals with the help of a dashboard designer, you can have all your KPIs on a single screen, ready to explore by utilizing powerful interactive features.
3. At what frequency do I need to send my reports?
This question will help you determine whether your insights will focus on an operational level or strategic. Operational reporting has its foundations in shorter time frames, often daily or weekly, and concentrates on lower-level KPIs. Strategic, on the other hand, looks at metrics that need to be monitored over a longer period of time to be able to derive the best possible conclusion.
You can explore our guide on financial reports, where we analyzed various types of reports and provided examples.
4. What type of report would suit my recipients the best?
As mentioned, AI-driven reports have numerous features that should make your working life easier. When it comes to developing a proper autonomous reporting system, you should look for these invaluable options to get the better out of your efforts:
- Standard and customized reports: No matter the number of recipients, standard and customized reports are simply sent to designated email addresses on a defined schedule. Their content and filters can be customized so you have complete control over the information you want to share.
- Live dashboards and/or secure viewer area: If you want to share or send your whole dashboard, a simple URL is all you need. Additionally, you can assign a viewer area where the user can access the dashboard and use filters that are assigned by you, but they can't edit or rearrange the dashboard themselves.
- Embedding the dashboard: By taking a step further, your dashboards can be embedded into your own application or website, for example, you can take over the complete product and present it to your clients as your own. By using embedded BI tools like datapine, you get all the benefits of the software without having to invest tons of money and time in creating your own.
- Printing bounds: Printing, although a more traditional way of presenting data, can sometimes prove to be useful, especially for an in-person meeting. You can simply set a reminder for printing your dashboards, and all the updated metrics will be there, in a functional PDF or PNG format.
5. Define your core aims & goals
While this sounds glaringly obvious, you’d be amazed at how many people overlook this golden rule. Now, we’ve already outlined the importance of setting your KPIs. What we mean here is: to decide on the specific departments, processes, or functions you feel need streamlining and define your core data automation goals within those parameters.
Do you want to save time on proving the worth of your paid advertising efforts? Are you looking for a better, more effective way of displaying your team’s performance metrics? Is saving time sifting through your recruitment insights a top priority? If you set specific goals, you will streamline your data analytics strategy in the right areas. As a result, your autonomous insights will provide responsive, intelligent insights related to the departmental functions that matter most. For example, your sales team can constantly access your social media reports and see how many leads you are getting from a certain campaign.
6. Provide access & education
When it comes to automatic reporting, the more people can benefit, the better. Rather than giving sole access to a selected few, you should run workshops to enlighten everyone in the company on the virtues of automated data reporting.
By giving everyone in your organization some form of access to your tools and templates and teaching them how to use them to their advantage, you will create a data-driven reputation that will increase productivity and engagement across the board. This also extends to partners and clients: by providing access to your automated reports, you will empower them to check their performance by working with responsive, reliable live data.
7. Work with advanced technologies
Report automation comes with a wealth of intuitive technologies that make the curation, collection, visualization, and analytical processes simpler, swifter, and more accurate.
Driven by artificial intelligence (AI), many automated reporting systems features deliver dynamic informational visualizations and deep-dive insights with minimal human intervention. Using these autonomous technologies to your advantage will streamline your operations while making sure you never miss vital trends, patterns, or information.
Data alerts are a prime example of AI-based report-style functions. Powered by neural network and machine learning technologies, intelligent data alerts notify you on critical organizational milestones (when a benchmark is met or a certain pattern emerges that needs immediate attention, for instance) based on your specific goals and needs. A powerful function that will boost your business intelligence (BI) capabilities across the board while minimizing the amount of manual work invested in constantly monitoring how the data fluctuates.
8. Keep refining & measuring
Automate reports are incredibly powerful and valuable. But that doesn’t mean you can run a report and expect it to deliver value indefinitely.
To enjoy a healthy return on investment (ROI) from your intelligent reports, you should check in with them periodically to ensure that the data you’re working with is still relevant. If your company evolves or the industry around you changes, you might need to redefine your goals slightly and make refinements to your visualizations. Doing so will ensure you keep on reaping those boosting rewards.
9. Choose the best tool for your needs
No matter the industry, the process of data gathering is tedious and time-consuming. Imagine how much time is reduced by simply introducing automated report generation across departments. To be able to make the most out of it, you should choose report automation tools wisely according to your specific needs.
While some business intelligence tools include automated reporting features as well as interactive dashboards, others such as datapine, offer in addition a number of advanced ways to perform quality analysis such as predictive analytics, data connectors to see all your information in one place, and data alerts that let you know when anything unconventional happened in your data. Like this, when choosing your automatic reporting tools you should always take into consideration the extra potential you can extract from them.
10. Use modern automated reporting tools
Working with modern automated reporting tools is the way forward. As we told you, BI solutions such as datapine, offer the option of creating standard or customized platforms while consolidating your most valuable data in one dynamic and accessible dashboard. Watch our video overview to see our automated reporting tool in action:
To fully understand how a report automation software benefits operational and strategic initiatives of companies, no matter how big they are, we have prepared industry real-world examples that we will explore in more detail and ensure you get a visual understanding of smart reporting in practice.
Automated Reporting System in Business Scenarios
To put the power of automated reporting into perspective, we’re going to look at five dashboards based on five common organizational functions, departments, and scenarios.
1. Automated reporting in the manufacturing industry
The manufacturing industry needs continuous automation throughout processes, and each part of the company needs to work flawlessly in order to avoid potential internal issues and cost increment. That's why an agile BI dashboard such as the one below can help in the process.
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This dashboard aims to report on the production status of a manufacturing company. Automation, in this case, is crucial. When there are numerous touchpoints to control, analyze and react to, if necessary, the software will prove to be priceless. By letting the dashboard automatically monitor and report if there are any issues, companies can improve their efficiency - exponentially. Manufacturing KPIs such as the production volume, the number of active machines, and the top 5 machines by production volume will certainly give you a clear overview of the status of your equipment.
You don't need to manually update any data, autonomous reports will provide the full scope of your production processes and deliver information in a timely manner.
2. Automated reports in marketing
Marketing is one of the functions that need regular and updated reports, no matter if it's daily, weekly or monthly data in question. To be able to launch and optimize the best possible campaign, a visual marketing report can let you focus on the data at hand, excluding the time needed to export spreadsheets and write a completely new document. In marketing, this notion is precious.
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We can see how easy it is to explore the data depicted in this report above that focuses on the performance of paid promotional efforts. By sending this report weekly or monthly, without the need to manually update each piece of content, your marketing department will save countless hours in report creation. Additionally, if you manage multiple client accounts in an agency, then this report can also be embedded, and white-labeled as a client reporting dashboard, so you can use it as your own brand and adjust it so that it fits your clients' needs.
3. Automation in logistics & transportation
In a thriving digital economy where it’s possible to connect with customers or clients wherever they are in the world, you need to ensure your transportation logistics are fully optimized across every key touchpoint.
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Designed to offer a detailed snapshot of essential logistics metrics, including loading & weight as well as delivery times, destination, and status, our smart transportation dashboard will help you streamline your strategy with minimal friction. Here, you can pinpoint issues or areas that need improvement while continually benchmarking your activities for ongoing fluency, consistency, and growth.
4. Automation in sales & revenue growth
Where would your company be without a regular flow of sales? To maximize your sales efforts and campaigns while maintaining consistently high productivity levels, you need the right insights - and our sales dashboard delivers.
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Boasting a balanced mix of KPI-based sales graph types, charts, and visualizations, this savvy tool offers deep-dive information based on your cross-selling or upselling activities, incremental sales according to a campaign, revenue per sales rep, and more.
This melting pot of deep-dive insight will help you refine your messaging, strategies, and lead generation campaigns for constant growth and success while driving down unnecessary costs - an essential tool for every modern business.
5. Automation in procurement & quality control
How you procure your goods, services, and assets will have a huge impact on your company’s overall growth as well as its bottom line.
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Our procurement dashboard is a nerve center of information, serving up KPI-centric insights including vendor rejection rates & costs, supplier quality rating, emergency purchase ratio, purchases in time & budget, and spending under management.
By accessing this stream of information frequently, you can assess the value of your existing suppliers while identifying any potential kinks in your procurement process. By doing so, you will become more financially efficient and ensure there are no roadblocks or bottlenecks in your procurement chain, making your organization healthier in the process.
6. Automation in financial management and strategy
Automate reports for financial efficiency are essential, as they will help keep your business secure, fluent, scalable, and attractive to potential investors.
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This dynamic financial dashboard is equipped with a host of valuable KPIs that provide a panoramic insight into all key fiscal areas of the business. With accurate insights based on cash conversion cycles, working capital, budget variance, and vendor payment error rate, delivered in a digestible, autonomous fashion, here you have all of the insights you need to keep your company’s monetary management strategy as healthy as possible.
With key past, predictive, and real-time metrics all on the same page, here, you can also nip any emerging issues in the bud while formulating initiatives that will ultimately reduce unnecessary costs and contribute to boosting your bottom line.
7. Automation in customer service reporting
In today’s ultra-connected digital age, customer service and experience are the key brand differentiators across industries. If you improve your customer support, care, and communications, you will accelerate the growth of your organization.
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The problem is, with so many queries to resolve and an ever-increasing number of channels to consider, taking an analytical approach to your consumer-facing strategy can seem like an uphill struggle. But by working with reporting automation, you can get ahead of the pack.
Our autonomous service team platform is equipped with a balanced mix of highly-visual customer service KPIs that offer deep-dive insights into first call resolutions, response times, top-performing agents, and issue numbers. This melting pot of information will give you everything you need to improve your decision-making while developing targeted initiatives to improve your accuracy, efficiency, and customer service output.
8. Automation in personnel and workforce management
Businesses that can harness the full power of their HR and workforce-centric analytics stand to outperform their direct competitors in almost every key area.
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Our insightful human resources analytics tool offers a cohesive cross-section of ‘glanceable’ visualizations designed for HR operatives and decision-makers to understand key behaviors, demographics, and patterns concerning their company’s internal talent.
Here, you can explore existing gender ratios, examine trends in first-year resignations, notices according to age range, and numbers of part-time and full-time employees. Armed with this information, you can create targeted strategies to improve engagement while offering training and mentorship to the right people at the right time, earning a healthier ROI for your talent acquisition efforts.
9. Automation in hospital performance and operations
When it comes to medical institutions, the quality, speed, and accuracy of your analytical initiatives can mean the difference between life and death.
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Offering a dynamic insight into fiscal aspects of healthcare as well as logistical information, our hospital performance dashboard will help you achieve optimum financial efficiency while improving your level of patient management.
By working with this interactive platform, you can monitor patient-to-nurse ratios, uncover hospital infection trends, understand admission rates, and examine treatment costs all in one accessible location. A game-changer for highly-pressured medical institutions everywhere.
10. Automation in Google Analytics reporting
Google Analytics is a vital tool for any modern business looking to optimize your various web and landing pages for specific audience segments.
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To gain a competitive edge and make your Google Analytics operations all the more impactful, our dedicated autonomous tool digs deeper into your most vital insights, delivering a wealth of actionable website KPIs automatically.
Here, you can gain additional context into your goal conversion rates, bounce rates, various visitors, and web sessions with ease, uncovering insights that you may have previously missed from the platform. An effective way to streamline your online strategy and deliver the assets your target consumers want.
Types Of Automated Reporting Tools
Now that you’ve explored ten real-world examples, let’s cement our knowledge by looking at the four types of autonomous tools available in today’s data-driven landscape.
1. Code-based tools
In terms of automated reporting generation, code-based tools are useful as they offer complete control over the reporting system, allowing you to customize certain aspects based on specific requirements or preferences.
The primary drawback of code-based tools is that they take a great deal of time to develop, test, and debug, which can drain your time as well as budget. Additionally, they require advanced technical knowledge that can present an issue for average business users that want to benefit from them.
2. Low-code or no-code tools
Low code or no-code tools are simple to master and fairly quick to implement. These tools mainly operate through drag and drop functionality while pulling information from various sources, including social media, email, and spreadsheets.
While low-code or no-code tools can prove effective and require little to no programming skills to use, they are rigid, limited in scope, and difficult to customize.
3. BI tools
BI tools are intuitive and provide easy access to a wealth of metrics related to every operational aspect of the organization. Using BI tools for automation-centric purposes facilitates aggregation, analysis, and visualization of business insights within the confines of interactive dashboard-style tools.
Modern BI tools such as datapine provide a fully customizable analytical experience, pulling from multiple sources to deliver a range of positive business outcomes. These tools require little thought and training to be successfully implemented, but the investment is undoubtedly worthwhile. Their self-service focus allows an average user to easily get acquainted with the power of analytics.
4. Dashboard tools
Modern dashboard tools are closely related to BI platforms and offer a wealth of dynamic autonomous functionality that ultimately brings data to life. Typically, these types of tools are categorized into three main areas: strategic, operational, and analytical. By offering access to highly-visual and interactive KPIs, these dynamic offerings give users access to a cohesive mix of past, predictive, and real-time insights. Several BI dashboard tools out there offer automated dashboard generation with just a few clicks, making the process intuitive and efficient.
The right BI-centric tools are largely customizable, accessible, fairly simple to master, and fully integrable.
Automated Reporting Conclusions
When you’re considering how to automate reports, it pays to understand how analytics work in principle - and hopefully, that’s what we’ve achieved here.
Businesses work best when embracing the power of intelligent reporting. By embracing the power of autonomous reporting software, you will boost your productivity significantly while gaining the ability to focus your efforts on driving the company forward. We are living in a bold new tech-centric age, and those that get on board will win long-term.
In a time where digital transformation is on the rise and an increasing number of businesses are entering the analytical arena, making your business’s most precious insights as efficient, accurate, and informational as possible is critical. No exceptions, no compromises.
On our journey, we’ve explored an official automated reports definition, looked at a definitive roadmap as well as real-world examples to create such reports, and explained how reports automation can lead to sustainable growth. There is no denying it: automated report software will ensure your business thrives. You will gain an edge over the competition.
Are you ready to improve your processes with the power of autonomous analytics? Try datapine for a 14-day trial to maximize your analytical initiatives today. We look forward to working with you.