Today’s A:360 answers the questions “what is a report inventory, and why does one matter?”. A report inventory is integral to identifying opportunities for quick wins and short-term ROI for your analytics initiatives. Listen, watch or read below to learn more!

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Hey everyone. Welcome to today’s A:360. My name is Brewster Knowlton, and today we’re going to be answering the question, “What is report inventory and why does it matter?”

A report inventory is very similar to a data inventory in many aspects. While a data inventory looks at all of the different data sources throughout an organization, a report inventory looks at all of the reports compiled throughout the organization, especially those that are compiled on a recurring basis. That is – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or some other regular schedule.

Your financial institution’s lending department, for example, probably compiles a host of monthly reports ranging from basic pipeline reports to delinquency and charge off reports or any number of possible types of consistent, recurring reporting. Operations might look at ACH transactions or some debit and credit processing information, or ATM terminal volumes.

There are a huge number of frequent, recurring reports that happen throughout an organization – so much so that you’d be quite surprised if you actually took a deep dive into your organization to see how many reports are compiled on a recurring basis. Ask how long do they [the reports] take each month to produce?

The easiest way to produce a report inventory is to just have interviews and meetings with key individuals throughout different departments that are most hands-on with data. This is very similar to producing the data inventory, and is part of the process of a data strategy discovery session.

There are a few pieces of information that you want to capture for each report when compiling your report inventory.

First, you want to obviously get a name and a description of the report.

Second, you want to get the recurrence rate. In other words, does this report get compiled: Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Or, on some other time schedule? Or, if it’s just a report that was built ad-hoc but also took a significant amount of time, you’ll want to track that as well and will want to indicate that it was an ad-hoc one-time report.

You’ll also want to track – and this is probably the most important piece of the report inventory – you’ll want to track the hours per month (or some other time period) that it takes the individual or department to produce this report.

Tracking the amount of time that it takes on a recurring basis is really important when you start to look at, “How can I justify a return on investment or identify a return on investment for our data and analytics initiatives?” That’s a really big part of the report inventory. How long does it take people to produce these reports?

Along with the name of the report, the recurrence rate, and the hours per month, you will also want to try to capture who creates the report and also who the recipient of the report is. This is because this will give you a good picture of who the compilers are, but also who are the primary consumers of data (which is sometimes just as important as who is creating the reports).

The big reason that we want to create a report inventory is to help us identify areas where we can get the most out of our analytics efforts. If lending comprises of the majority of the reports, and those reports that they compile take the majority of the time- a significant number of hours per month or per quarter- those are the people and that’s the department that we want to go after first to really try and get some quick wins. If you remember our conversation about the “Analytics Flywheel Effect”, you’ll hear us talk about the importance of those quick wins. So, the reports inventory really helps to identify those key areas and takes away the anecdotal component of trying to establish priorities, but put numbers down on paper and says, “This is where we can get the most value and biggest ROI early on”.

So again, a report inventory isn’t too much different in practice than a data inventory. The only difference is the report inventory is going to be tracking the reports – especially those recurring reports – and how long it takes to compile those reports each month. That’s really the important information.

If you are looking at this on our website on the blog, we’ll have a sample report inventory that you can look at or download as just a base outline for you to go about your discovery interviews and start to compile your own report inventory.

Report Inventory Screenshot

Download a Sample Report Inventory

That’s it for today. Thanks again for listening to today’s A:360.

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