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Tip: Picking the right BI reporting tool for the job

by Kristin Bent

March 1, 2011

With so many SAP and SAP BusinessObjects reporting tools out there, it can be difficult to decide which will best the meet the needs of a specific group of users.

The below excerpt from Ingo Hilgefort’s SAP PRESS book,  Reporting & Analytics Using SAP BusinessObjects, offers guidance for mapping your users’ requirements to the many BI tools within the SAP BusinessObjects suite:

It’s very important to understand the different user types for the SAP BusinessObjects BI tools and how those user types map to the different products. Before we begin, it should be stated that not every product from the SAP BusinessObjects BI portfolio has been created for each user type in mind.

Before we start mapping the BI toolset to the user types, we need to clarify what those user types are, and more importantly, the needs and skills associated with the user types. We must look at this issue from two sides: what the user wants and what he actually needs to do his day-to-day job. Beyond these two points, you must also consider the skill level of the user. Sometimes the choice of tool can be based solely on product features and functionality, but other times you also have to consider the skills of the person using the tool.

To keep it relatively simple we will break down our user types into three categories:

  1. Information Consumer
  2. Business Analyst
  3. Executive/Leadership/Management

You may notice that these user types do not include a role called “Report Designer” or &ld quo;IT Administrator.” The reason is that we want to focus on the consumption of information and how a user can leverage the BI tools to make informed decisions based on the provided information. The person creating the reports and analytics may have a different skill set compared to these user types. We’ll focus on the actual creation of the content in this book, but it is important to understand the consumer types of the reporting and analysis content. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to provide them with the right information in the right tool. Let’s define the typical characteristics and skills of our user types. We’ll characterize each user type based on the following:

-What are some typical goals of users working in a BI environment?

-What are some typical tasks for the user type?

-What other software does the user work with on a regular basis?

These tasks and goals are not meant to be specific to an area such as sales or finance, but should rather be seen as generic descriptions of a certain type of task or goal.

While this excerpt offers insight into how to begin mapping BI tools to your users’ needs, Ingo Hilgefort’s session at BI 2011, Strategies for choosing the right reporting tool for the job, takes an even deeper dive. For more information and to view a complete session abstract, please check out

In the meantime, are there any best practices you have for mapping user needs to reporting tools? How do you determine who needs which tool to perform day-to-day tasks more efficiently?

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