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One of the biggest benefits to using a human capital management (HCM), human resource information system (HRIS), benefits administration, talent management or time and labor solution is the ability to utilize the reporting functionality of the system. Today, almost every solution provides some sort of library of standard reports, and many provide the ability to create adhoc reports within the system. Just about every type of solution allows the user to export data into Excel or similar programs. Most systems allow users to do basic historic and point-in-time reporting.

Recently, and even more so going forward, solutions are allowing users to do even more with reporting capabilities. Solutions are starting to allow you to display data in easy-to-see and -use dashboards. Instead of relying on Excel or similar programs to show important metrics and graphs, many systems now allow you to see snippets in a basic dashboard view.

Some of the common dashboards show turnover, employee counts, benefits elections and overtime, among many other options. Others allow the opportunity to drill even deeper into the dashboards for details at specific locations, departments and similar levels. Several systems allow for dashboards to appear on the home page, and a few will rotate or shuffle the dashboards based on the user’s role or preferences.

These dashboards are used not only at the executive level, but also at the management, supervisory, and even individual employee level. These dashboards might allow management to identify trends important to the bottom line or perhaps identify trends in a specific department that has a lot of turnover or overtime. For employees, dashboards could provide a total compensation statement.

Many systems today allow the user to tailor the content and criteria to better define the dashboards, and as applicable, the analytics definitions. As such, the trend has moved from basic dashboards to customizable dashboards featuring those metrics and decision points key to each organization. The idea behind this is to make the data useful for organizations to help drive and support decisions, and in some cases, take action.

A few additional newer features related to reporting have to do with bringing in data from other systems, sharing data between systems and using big data from common industries, geographic locations and even the position level itself. This may also get into the popular trend of open application program interfaces (APIs) and other means to connect independent systems into a more streamlined total solution. In short, the data universe for a given organization continues to expand and offer options for overall reporting.

To recap, accessing and using your data can be accomplished through standard system-delivered reports, adhoc reports, dashboards and other means – all of which may allow you to use the data and possibly take action. Certainly, the options for reporting and dashboards today are many times more powerful than 10, five, and even three years ago. As such, here are a few ways to take advantage of the reporting options within a given system:

  • Training: Vendors want you to use their solutions to the fullest and should be offering a mixture of live (classroom or virtual) training, recorded webinars, quick tutorials and basic materials.
  • Implementation or deployment: You should be able to include project hours to have the vendor help configure reports, dashboards, connect APIs, etc. This should also serve as a way to further learn how to use the reporting options within the system.
  • Test environments: Many vendors offer a test environment, which could be a great way to learn how to create and use reports, dashboards and applicable processes related to the data and analytics.
  • User communities/user groups: Most vendors now have a user community or user group that connects their clients and allows everyone to share knowledge, tips and ideas. Several vendors have sections of their online community/group dedicated exclusively to reporting, understanding analytics, newer trends, etc.
  • Sharing reports/dashboards: A few vendors are now allowing clients to interact with other clients to share the templates for adhoc reports and dashboards. This may allow you to take advantage of methods to improve reporting without recreating the wheel.

In close, reporting and access to data continues to evolve. Newer possibilities are on the near horizon, but standard methods will always be needed. Regardless if your reporting requirements are very complex or straightforward, there are several avenues to help make sure you can take advantage of the reporting options available within your system or solution.