Enterprise Content Management and Enterprise Reporting Practices

By: Manuel J. Montesino

Why is a report so important? And how does reporting change under Enterprise Content Management systems? This article explores these issues.

Reports Lead to Informed Decisions and Actions

In an earlier age, it was possible to see things with your own eyes and take appropriate actions to run your business successfully. That age disappeared with the emergence of large businesses.

In a large business, many things will be going on in many different areas. It will be impossible to understand what is really going on based on personal observations alone. Analytical reports based on specific data bring out the nuances of ground realities.

For example, production levels might be going down owing to a combination of factors. Raw materials are often not available in time. Machines break down more frequently owing to poor maintenance. New, inexperienced workers have not been properly trained and produce low volumes.

In a very large plant, the harried plant manager might see just one of these factors and focus efforts on it alone. For instance, he might be more aware of machine downtimes and focus on that problem, only to find that production levels still remain low after spending a great deal of effort, time, and money on improving the maintenance practices.

Well-designed analytical reports will highlight the different reasons that led to each incidence of low production volumes, and bring out all the causative factors.

Things get far more complex when you go up to overall profitability and factors that affect it. A comprehensive system for analyzing events occurring all over the enterprise is absolutely necessary to control profitability.

This is what enterprise-wide systems, such as Enterprise Content Management, seek to accomplish.

Enterprise Reporting Systems

Reporting becomes far more complex as your operations expand to far-flung locations and to different product lines. You will now need to capture information from many different locations. These varied sources are quite likely to use different operating systems, file formats, software applications, and so on.

An enterprise reporting system need to integrate all the varied information, analyze and categorize it, and produce reports that are meaningful in the new global context. For example, marketing operations in the US might suffer owing to production problems in China. An enterprise-wide system must monitor emerging trends in China, and produce timely reports for marketing and other top managers.

The above example points to the need for converting raw content, such as events in China or at the Chinese factory, into meaningful business intelligence that brings out the likely impact of these events on marketing operations in the US. The Enterprise Reporting System must be designed to convert information into business intelligence.

With executives constantly on the move across global operating locations, the reports generated must also be distributed in a variety of formats suited to such devices like PDAs and mobile phones, as well as traditional workstations.

Features of Enterprise Reporting Systems

Good Enterprise Reporting Systems generate reports that produce concrete business results - such as improved cash flow, higher sales, and lower costs.

The specific system features that produce these results include:


  • Designing systems and reports to provide business intelligence, and not just difficult-to-comprehend statistics

  • Integrating departmental and functional applications to eliminate redundant resources and duplicate tasks

  • Improving collaborative work by facilitating interactions and remote communications

  • Making it easy to search and locate exactly what the users want from the vast data warehouse of the enterprise

  • Delivering the information to the users' workstations and mobile devices so that it can be accessed conveniently from wherever the user happens to be



Conclusion

Enterprise Reporting Systems constitute an integral part of Enterprise Content Management systems. Good reporting systems gather all kinds of content from different sources spread across the global enterprise, and provide business intelligence for excellent decision support. The information is delivered to wherever the managers happen to be.

Enterprise Information Systems
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