Reporting is a critical step in the business intelligence (BI) process, involving the use of BI software or tools to prepare data and deliver actionable insights. The most effective BI reporting presents information that is not only accurate and trustworthy, but easily consumable for business users — whether it pertains to operational performance, marketing intelligence or financial results. This often means using data visualizations that make business insights easy to understand and act on.

BI reporting can be done in one of two ways. Ad-hoc reporting is when a businessperson, often nontechnical, creates and shares one-off reports as needed. Managed reporting, on the other hand, is when reports are created and distributed centrally by report developers — internal staff or third-party professional services firms — who have the technical report expertise and manage the process. The insights gained from managed reporting can inform decision-making and have a measurable impact on business performance.

What Is Managed Reporting (MR)?

Managed reporting takes a centralized approach to the creation and distribution of reports. Report developers with database expertise develop feature-rich reports from start to finish. They handle everything from data integration all the way to the delivery of reports to business stakeholders.

Key Takeaways

  • Reporting relies on business intelligence software or tools to analyze data and deliver actionable insights.
  • With managed reporting, specialist report developers handle the entire reporting process, from data integration to report distribution.
  • The managed reporting approach can prove valuable in a number of ways, from data protection and privacy considerations to accuracy and user interface benefits.

Managed Reporting Explained

In the managed reporting process, IT professionals who have expertise working with BI tools use them to aggregate and analyze large amounts of data for different areas of the business. They can create powerful reports or dashboards to deliver accurate and easy-to-digest intelligence based on those volumes of data. Those reports or dashboards are made available to the appropriate business users, who benefit from the IT pros’ report-generating expertise and can concentrate on putting the information to strategic use.

How Does Managed Reporting Work?

Unlike ad-hoc reporting, which is performed on the fly — say, to present information for an update meeting or to explore the answer to a business question — managed reporting is a more structured approach to ongoing reporting needs. Report developers handle the creation of reports from start to finish. They may create web pages or portals that enable users to view static reports. They may also author tools to enable business users to run more dynamic reports or build functionality that allows users to create their own queries within certain parameters or guidelines.

Report administrators grant access to the reports and capabilities based on the access a person requires to do their job. Business users can view, create or save reports without any understanding of the data analytics taking place on the back end or having access to underlying data sources.

Goals of Managed Reporting

The overriding purpose of managed reporting is to make the most effective use of data for business intelligence purposes. In a nutshell, the goal of managed reporting is to make sure business users have access to the insights needed to achieve their business goals.

A managed reporting solution is particularly effective in areas of the organization where ongoing, automated and well-crafted reports will create significant value. Organizations may opt for managed reporting for lead-times and in-stock levels to ensure that manufacturing components are delivered on time, for example, or automated reports that integrate customer data with territory maps to maximize sales route productivity.

The objective of managed reporting in cases such as these is to provide business users with the information to perform their roles more effectively and efficiently than they would if they had to do their own ad-hoc reporting.

Benefits of Managed Reporting

From data protection and privacy considerations to accuracy and user interface benefits, the managed reporting approach can prove valuable in a number of ways. Among the benefits:

  • Managed reporting ensures that users can access only the information they require.
  • Business users don’t need BI software knowledge to use managed reporting capabilities.
  • Managed reporting protects sensitive or confidential data.
  • Business users don’t have to spend their own time creating ad-hoc reports.
  • Technical report developers can ensure reports are accurate, trustworthy and easy-to-use.
  • Report authors, with expertise in BI software, can create richer data visualizations and dashboards for business users.
  • Managed reporting can produce automated, ongoing reports.
  • Using the same underlying data for all reporting reduces data chaos or misinformation.
  • Managed report developers can align reporting objectives with business users’ needs to create the most clean and effective reports for analysis and action.

Managed Reporting Roles & Responsibilities

One of the initial steps for organizations pursuing a managed reporting solution is to delineate key roles and responsibilities. These may include:

  • Managed reporting developers: These highly skilled tech professionals use various BI tools to create reporting content, such as automated reports, portals and even tools for doing their own ad-hoc analysis.
  • Managed reporting administrators: Individuals in these roles handle security and access for management reporting using an administration console. They can create and manage users, groups, domains, roles and rules. They can also define which reports are available to each different group of users and grant and deny access to data and reports at individual and group levels.
  • Managed reporting server application administrators: These individuals can access the management reporting servers and have the right to create metadata — information about the structure of data — and application resources.
  • Managed reporting users: These business users can view, create and save reports based on permissions granted by managed reporting administrators.

How to Choose a Managed Reporting Solution

As organizations outgrow ad-hoc reporting using spreadsheets and presentation decks, their reporting needs can become so complex or voluminous that managed reporting becomes a valuable investment. Indeed, a BI system capable of supporting a managed reporting solution can have a measurable impact on business performance, so it’s important to be deliberate and thoughtful when selecting such software.

Some important factors to consider include:

  • Organizational fit: It’s critical to ensure the managed reporting solution is aligned with your organization’s business strategy and approach. The prettiest data visualizations matter less than whether the solution fits your specific needs.
  • Regulatory and security considerations: Make sure the solution can meet your organization’s data security and privacy needs, as well as any regulatory requirements, such as ensuring reports comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Data integration: Look for solutions that can integrate data seamlessly from a variety of systems, integrate structured and unstructured data, and support both managed and ad-hoc reporting.
  • Customization capabilities: The best managed reporting tools will conform to your organization's processes rather than the other way around.

The need for timely and accurate reporting is growing along with the volumes of data being captured. Organizations of all sizes must be capable of making data-driven decisions to respond to or anticipate uncertainty and disruption, increased customer expectations and intense competition — and integrated BI software is the foundation for that data analysis. As the number of data sources explode, most organizations today will find value in a managed reporting solution that provides timely, accurate and easy-to-understand reports while also managing data security and privacy.

Managed Reporting FAQs

What are the benefits of managed reporting?

Managed reporting can prove its value in a number of ways. Among the benefits, reports are created by IT professionals who have technical expertise and manage the process from start to finish. This relieves business users from needing BI software knowledge or spending time putting together their own reports. Managed report authors can also align reporting objectives with business users' needs to create the most clean and effective reports for analysis and action.

What businesses should use managed reporting?

The need for timely and accurate business intelligence is growing as organizations deal with uncertainty and disruption, increased customer expectations and intense competition. Most organizations will likely find value in a managed reporting solution that provides timely, accurate and easy-to-understand reports while managing data security and access.