In our last blog post we talked about all of the different report types available in Projector’s professional services automation software and discussed how to choose the best one. In this post we explore how to customize these reports to get the information you are looking for right at your fingertips.
Customizing reports in Projector gives you access to the treasure trove of data that is within the system. You can use a customized report to do some hairsplitting analysis on resource profitability or you could use UDFs (user defined fields) in your report to shake out some information that isn’t natively tracked in the system. Regardless of how you would like to see your data, understanding how to create custom reports can unlock a world of information that gives you more visibility and insight into your organization.
To start creating you report from scratch you will want to head over to Projector’s reporting engine which is located on the Reports Tab. Here, clicking on the “create new reports” button will give you a list of report types to select from. In our last post How to Create Projector Reports from Scratch – Part 1 we described in detail how to select the proper report type. Once you know which report type to select it’s time to get started. For our example we are going to select the Ginsu report as our report type since it is one of the most highly configurable reports within Projector.
Step 1 – How would you like your data
Once you have chosen your report type the next step is to answer the question “How would you like your data?” And no, we don’t mean medium rare with a side of slaw, instead we mean the format that you would like to consume your report in. Projector presents your data either in a table or through a variety of charts and graphs. This data is displayed using Microsoft Excel by default, but for those of you that are data savvy you can also extract the raw information in a Microsoft Access database. These settings are configured on the Format Tab of the reporting wizard.
Step 2 – What is this report about
After selecting how to consume your new report you need to tell Projector exactly what information you would like to see in your report. You can do this by going to the Data Fields tab on the report wizard. On this tab you are going to add the different fields that are what your report will be about. In the Ginsu Report you have the option of cost, revenue and profit fields and you can even add utilization metrics or hour fields to your report if you’d like. The data fields that are available to you will change depending on which report type you decide to use.
If you are creating your own report for the first time all of the different fields available to you may be a little overwhelming. If that is the case then you should try just adding one or two fields to your report, run the report and then see what it looks like. Once you are comfortable that you know the different fields you need you can add and arrange the ones you want.
As we are creating our example report we have decided that we want to look at a combination of revenue and profit. These data fields are going to provide an analysis into the profitability of our resources across various departments of the organization. We will then add some additional filtering fields to allow us to do some detailed analysis once we have the report in our hands.
The revenue field that we are going to include is called System Revenue. This field will show us all of the revenue that the system has recognized. The System Revenue will include all adjustments or write downs in order to show us an accurate representation of revenue. If we’d like we can compare this to our contract revenue, or the revenue that would have been earned if the project was realized at the contract rates, to see how much revenue was destroyed during the project delivery process.
There are many different revenue types available within Projector each with a very different purpose. Comparing revenue actually earned to revenue that should have or could have been earned is an important step towards maintain healthy profit margins on projects.
Step 3 – Organize your data
Now that we know what our report is going to be about (i.e. the data in our report) we have to decide how we would like to organize that data. We can do this by moving over to the Row Fields tab of the report wizard. The key to having a truly useful report is making sure that it is properly organized. It is important to strike the right balance between simplicity and granularity. If you add too many row fields to your report your data might get caught up in the many different levels and categories. If you don’t add enough different row fields to your report the output might be a high level summary that doesn’t really help you perform a detailed analysis. Spending some extra time thinking through your row fields will help improve the Fung shui of your report and will deliver more actionable data.
As we mentioned earlier, this report is going to be organized by resource and the departments they are in. To do this we are going to add the row field of Resource Department and Resource Display Name. These fields are located under the resource heading.
There are quite a few different fields that you can include as row fields to help “slice and dice” your data. If you wanted to see information by clients or projects you could add those fields, or you could organize your information by each individual project manager to see how the PM staff is performing. These are just some of the common fields that people like to include in their reports. Projector also offers fields associated with expenses or cost items, vendors, skills, or hours just to name a few.
If there are some fields that you think you would like in your report but you are not sure about, leave them out for now. In step 5 below we will cover how to add those fields as page fields to incorporate them in the report.
Step 4 – Time phasing
Now that we have most of our report configured by selecting and organizing the data it’s time to start diving into some of the other powerful tools of Projector’s reporting engine. The first is the time phase. In Ginsu reports this is found under the Column Fields tab. Here we can set a major and minor time scale for our report. If you would just like to look at totals in your report leave these to set to <none>. If you would like to time phase your report start with the major timescale. In this field you can set any denomination of time between a year and a day. If you need further granularity in your report then you can also set a Minor Timescale.
In our report we are going to look at our data on a month by month basis. We will set our Major Timescale to month and leave the Minor Timescale set to <None>. Setting our timescale to month will help us compare trends in our resource profitability data and it will also allow for an easy conversion of our table into a chart.
Step 5 – Filtering your data
A little earlier in this post we discussed how important it is to have only the information you really need in a report. Overloading reports with data can bog them down and make them hard to understand. Conversely, not adding enough information into a report can make it useless because it won’t answer the questions that you are asking. To help make reports relevant Projector has tools that can be used to filter your data either before you actually run your report or in Excel after you open it.
On the Page Fields tab of the report wizard you can add information to the report that you can filter on once you have opened the report. Using the page fields you could add fields like Resource Billable (Yes / No) and then once you are in your report you can toggle between viewing billable resources, non-billable resources or both. Page fields will also allow you to do things like add the Resource Cost Center field to your report and then either filter by those cost centers or if you wanted that data directly in your report you could drag that page field into the row fields area of the report itself. This allows you to do some on the fly analysis in your reports without having to re-run them within Projector.
If you would like to filter the data in a report before you even run it you can do that on the Filter Fields tab. Here you can configure your report to be for a specific client, cost center, department, country or any other attribute you would like. Simply select the field you would like to filter on and then type in the value you would like to see. This means you could run a project profitability report for manager X and rest assured that she will not be able to look at the profitability of her coworker’s projects, or you could run a project hour report for a specific client and be sure that they are only seeing their information.
Step 6 – Set your parameters
The last step needed to create your custom report is to spend some time configuring your parameters. The Parameters tab will be a little different for each one of the different Projector report types. On this tab you will be able to set the time frame you would like your report to be for and you can specify some other criteria for the report. The most important setting to pay attention to on the Parameters tab is the “actuals through date.”
The actuals through date acts as a cutoff date for your report. When you run your report Projector will look for actuals prior to the cutoff date and projections after the cutoff date. If you would like your report to only show projections you can set your actuals through date to a date far in the past. Conversely, if you would like your report to only look for actual submissions in the system you can set your actuals through date far into the future.
Once you have the parameters set your report is ready to go. If you plan on using this report again in the future you can save it or you can even share it with other Projector users so that they can also run the report you made.
Projector’s reporting engine is a powerful and highly configurable tool. The more you learn about running reports the more value you can extract from Projector. If you are interested in continuing to learn about Projector’s reporting engine keep checking back with us here on our blog or you can stay up to date on what’s new through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or e-mail. We will continue to post new articles and guides on how to get the most out of Projector.