Tech Whitepapers

4 Reporting issues you can overcome in 2017

We all have reports that we need to keep on top of. Some of them can seem to take a little longer or seem more effort than they should. In this day and age, it should not be the case.

4 Reporting issues you can overcome in 2017

Fusion wants to help all companies that are still struggling with their reporting, making 2017 the year of change. We have worked with many companies (large and small) that have varying issues with reporting, here is a list of the 4 common issues that we can solve:

Multi-sourced data

If you are fed up of hearing terms like data silos, or issues about API’s and database synchronisation, chances are you have data spread across multiple databases. This happens as different systems get implemented at different times, each system has its own requirements; some taking frequent but small amounts of live data others taking larger infrequent batch loads.

Without a reporting platform to pool all of the data together you will usually need to rely on each database owner to provide an extract. The trouble is not all providers can work at the same pace, below is a diagram showing the timeline for getting access to data: Analytical Timeframes

The analysis is usually held up by one or two suppliers (databases i.e. DB1), normally reducing the time the analyst spends looking at the data; which is where (after all) the value gets added.

We can also see here that we have to lose lots of the data as our “analysis window” needs all the data sources to overlap. Taking the last “first” date and the first “last” date.

Not mentioned here is the issue of merging. Depending on the data you may need to merge individual records or align time series. These can often be tricky processes that need a guiding hand.

Missing and erroneous data

All reports are read with the assumption that the underlying data is right. There will be missing data and there will be errors along the way.

For a retailer wanting a report of total sales, 1 missing case may not be an issue at a fraction of the overall value, but for an insurer 1 claim can be the difference in profitable and not profitable.

It is important to get the best data quality possible, but there is always a fine balance between accuracy and getting the job done. Each report needs to have an agreed level of accuracy and allowable tolerances.


I LOVE EXCEL. I have multiple templates that I build and use with embedded macros and lookup tables. BUT unleash excel or more than 3 people Excel and you will get inserted rows or columns, comments or changes that interfere with lookup tables. For one reason or another, it will generally go to pot.

If you are currently doing all your reporting in Excel you may have tried at some point to get all the data into one spreadsheet. You may find you spend half your time waiting to for auto-save, or that Excel just keeps crashing.

Many of our clients ask for the final reports to be shared in excel, this is fine, but we ensure that the outputs fit within what Excel can handle and any changes are done properly in the source template.

In some cases, all it requires to resolve these issues is a bit of house cleaning. Great results can be achieved in just a few days.

Varying data formats

This can happen within any system, a good example is those companies operating in multiple territories. With dollars in the US and pounds in the UK, how do you measure value?

Only ever report in the source countries currency, but then to understand say annual turnover you have to provide a country level report; you can’t just say I made £x m.
Do you translate the transaction value using the exchange rate at the point of sale, but would you have cashed in at that rate?
Do you choose a fixed date when you actually exchanged the money, but then if there has been sudden turn in the market – is that fair?
Currency isn’t the only format issue, a change in one system can impact another, or migrating a system can have a similar effect. You may find that different departments or systems summarise categories in different ways, or perhaps the definition itself has changed.

For all of these cases, it is hard to unify formats and categories across multiple systems and departments. In these cases, it is important to map out the rules and decisions that need to be made and keep a note of the choices. With a good audit trail in place, you can always adjust your decisions at a later date.

Speeding things up…

With the above issues addressed the reporting process can be automated. We have seen that automation can improve the performance of loading data by as much as 90 times. We can then prepare the reports so that the end to end process (including interpretation and insight) is 6-10 times quicker.

Here are a couple examples of our work:

Self-supporting solution

Our media client combines Barb data with internal data to understand how TV programs rollout across the globe.

Previous build time New runtime Ongoing support Build time Notes
12 days
(10 days data formatting)

2 days 0days 2days Errors were reduced due to standardised formats

We defined and automated the system within 2 days, reducing the error rate. The solution was handed over to be supported internally (all reporting was done in Excel on request). The analyst was able to spend more time in interpreting results than worrying about the data.

Outsourced service

Our radio broadcaster used RAJAR reporting to understand trends. They used a mixture of SAS, excel and tableau to manipulate the data into reports. We consolidated the process into 1 tool (SAS) and semi-automate the process end to end, allowing for input files to be provided at different times and also processing the files 90 times faster.

Previous build time New runtime Ongoing support Build time Notes
3 days
2 hours 4 hours 10days Errors were reduced due to standardised formats

In this case, the speed of the reports was crucial. The cost of the multiple software licences was also taking up too much budget. By outsourcing the solution the saving in licence fees alone paid for the development, and the reports were done in record time.

If you are struggling with getting reporting right or done on time, then why not make it your new year’s resolution to do something about it.

Get in touch at:

0203 287 5 387