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5 Reasons to Begin Report Automation in 2021

Spending hours each day manually extracting data from various sources to compile a report is a laborious and tedious task. It’s only made worse when the process has to be repeated on a quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily basis.  

Not only is it exhausting for staff weighed down by the challenge, but it’s also a waste of time, money and resources - which, now more than ever before, businesses can’t afford.  

After all, how often do you find that people with valuable skills aren’t being used to their full potential due to their reliance on manual processes? 

By automating your reports, and allowing for visualisation of data, there’s no longer a need for this time consuming task. Most people are aware of this, but there are many reasons to automate beyond reducing reliance on manual processes - all of which are essential in 2021.  

We’ve gathered the top 5, to inspire you to take action.

 

First: What is Report Automation? 

Reporting automation is the process through which reports are automatically refreshed on a regular basis. Once designed, automated reporting brings users exactly what they need in a relevant and timely way - removing the need for users to go looking for the information themselves, or for a single “reports guy”.

Automated reports can be set up to be generated and sent to individuals at certain frequencies. For example, if you have a weekly sales and marketing meeting, you could schedule your report to be generated beforehand. Reports could also be configured to be triggered by certain events, such as low stock. 

Report automation is a simple, efficient way of generating business critical information. Ready-made, automatically generated reports make it much quicker and easier to get important information to the right people, at the right time.  

Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why more and more businesses are automating their reporting processes, and why you should consider it. 

 

1. Analyse data you previously haven’t been able to access 

Report automation has many advantages, but perhaps the most valuable is that you’re able to use and analyse data in your reports that you previously may have not had access to. With automated reporting, you’ll be able to manipulate and re-purpose data in ways that were perhaps too difficult or time consuming to do manually.  

As a result, you’ll be able to gather more in-depth business insights that weren’t available before - which could mean the difference between a good and bad decision. With the right report automation tool, organisations can easily analyse more complex data needed to facilitate better decision making.  

 

We’ve put together a breakdown of the best report automation and data  visualisation tools for 2021. Read it here.

 

2. Reduce the chance of error 

Delivering reports quickly and efficiently is massively important, but the speed at which you can produce reports becomes irrelevant if the information within them isn’t accurate. This happens frequently when businesses are relying on manual methods, such as physically updating spreadsheets.  

It becomes an even larger problem when organisations expect timely reporting from their staff, but don’t have a mechanism to ensure these reports are error-free. In a rush to get reports finished, human mistakes often slip through the cracks. 

By automating reporting, you can solve this challenge. Since data is usually pulled from your relevant platforms into one central location, automation not only mitigates the reliance on manual work to pull a report together, it reduces the chance of human error.  

By using report automation, you can put an end to fixing common mistakes, and start getting more out of your data

 

3. Maximise value from staff 

A key benefit of automating reports is the amount of time it saves in manual data wrangling processes. The removal of these manual processes frees up significant time for key members of staff, allowing them to focus on more value-add activities that enhance business insights and drive better decisions. 

This might include spending more time analysing the automated reports, or investigating additional data that could be integrated to enrich existing reports. Whatever the activity, it is sure to be more valuable than spending significant time manually sourcing and processing data to support decision making.

 

4. Increase the frequency of analysis 

As we’ve mentioned previously, speed is of the essence for many organisations. They rely on reports and analysis to make business decisions, most of which have become increasingly time-sensitive over the past year.  

However, when the work needed to generate reports cannot be done quickly, getting timely, business-critical insights at the right time becomes virtually impossible. Some reports may only be created once every month or quarter due to the nature of the work. This means that typically, the analysis emerging out of the report isn’t as up to date as you’d like it to be.  

The issue with creating reports within strict time frames is that where unusual patterns emerge, or something goes wrong, you can’t see it right away. And often, by the time you actually notice these issues, it’s too late - you’ve missed out on potential revenue, or you’ve been overspending where it wasn’t needed.  

At such an uncertain time for businesses everywhere, shortfalls in reporting could result in a negative outcome. But if you’ve automated your data flows, you can also look at automating your analysis by using modern data visualisation tools - meaning it can be done on a much more frequent basis. Then, you’re able to capture issues when they arise and respond quickly.  

Automated reporting enables businesses to become proactive, instead of reactive. 

 

5. Make reporting a more user-friendly process 

If you’re currently generating reports manually, chances are you may be using excel to combine data together. In addition to this being a suboptimal approach to combining data from disparate sources, spreadsheet reports typically aren’t very visually appealing. This may not seem like an issue at first, but it can make a huge difference in the way key stakeholders engage with your reports. 

Most automated reporting tools make viewing reports less demanding, offering user-friendly dashboards and reports via an interactive visual interface. Designed with the average user in mind, much of this software requires little to no coding knowledge to generate and send reports. This means that those in the business who aren’t as tech savvy are able to better understand and interpret your reports. They’re also able to create reports themselves.  

If everyone in your organisation is able to understand and engage with the reports easily, this means less time is wasted explaining what they mean and how to interact with them. As a result of more user-friendly automated reports, those within your analysis teams are able to better utilise their time where it really matters - analysing business insights to drive better decision making. 

 

The bottom line 

These are just a handful of the many reasons why automated reporting is a must-have for any business in 2021.  

However, in order to see the improvements you require, you’ll need to select the right tools for the job. This means deciding whether you want a simple report automation approach or a more sophisticated complete data and analytics solution. Of course, this decision depends on your business needs, however, we’ve put together a short resource to help you. 

In our free guide, we compare the top 3 players of the data visualisation market: Power BI, Tableau and Qlik Sense, offering an overview of each addressing key factors to consider when making your decision. Download your copy below. 

Free Download

The Best Data Visualization Tools for 2021: A Comparison Guide

In our comparison guide we compare the top 3 key players: Power BI, Tableau and Qlik Sense, giving an overview of each tool to help you determine which is the best for you.

Free Download

Best data visualization tools for 2021