Are you embarrassed by your Service Manager reports?

Often a great way to start designing a Service Manager solution is to start with a view of the reporting required by the business. However creating great reports that really deliver is often left until the very last activity or even “something we’ll get back to…”. I think many people would confess that reporting is one of the key areas that could be done much better.

The great news is that you have a range of reporting options plus some relatively new ones that could blow your customers away. I will give you an overview of what the options are, and why you might choose one over the other. We have some detailed videos coming out soon covering the build of different report types, so keep an eye out for those.

Firstly, the reports that ship out-of-box with Service Manager serve as an indication of the range of data you can report, however it’s likely that you will need your own tailored reports.

Most people start by using Excel to analyse the data cubes already available in Service Manager. This is a great way to get started and means that virtually anyone can create reports. You can get inventive with data slicers and create dashboards as well, so this path is a popular choice for many organisations.

Service Manager uses an SQL back-end so you have all the reporting and analysis services that go with that, hence SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is another option you have. SSRS reports are built using either Report Builder or Visual Studio (with its BI plugin). These reports can be much more complex and gives greater choice for graphical elements over traditional Excel reports, such as gauges, dials, maps etc. SSRS reports can also be easily distributed to teams – even automatically issued as weekly reports for example. The challenge for many IT service teams is the lack of SSRS skills results in these reports having a lower rate of adoption.

The recent new moves in this space have been a result of the work Microsoft has been doing across its BI portfolio and in particular the recent developments in Excel 2013 with PowerPivot and Power View, also in concert with SharePoint’s SQL reporting services capabilities.

If you haven’t yet looked at Power View drop everything and do so – you can come back read the rest of this later – it’s that important.

Power View offers a dynamic reporting experience for users. Multiple charts work together to show data change as you drill down, which is simply fantastic for those people that need to quickly analyse a report – like most of us!

Power BI takes Power View to the cloud and now delivers your reports to anyone anywhere. There is a great Windows 8 app that delivers these reports to your tablet. For those organisations using Office365, simply add Power BI to your subscription and present these reports on your intranet.

But wait! There’s more! Using O365 and Power BI gives you Power BI Q&A. This is a natural language search across a data cube. So think about this. Don’t build reports, lets users simply type in what they want to see – like “outstanding priority 1 incidents” and BINGO there it is. Its early days and there is material work needed in defining relationships and adding words to data fields to help the search engine, but the first steps are great and the path should be of interest to everyone using Service Manager.

So there is no shortage of options to create reports, easy ones, complex ones and new ones. You shouldn’t be covering your reports when you get visitors to your service desk, rather throw off the covers and show ‘em off, loud ‘n proud!