I understand your concerns. Excel is a wonderful tool, and it is very easy
to develop prototypes and to get a working, useful model up and running very
quickly. However, to base a departmental MI on Excel seems to be
problematical, as Excel can be seen to be prone to 'odd' errors, can be
difficult to maintain in a large deployment, and 'suffers' from the
perception that it is easy to use, and any semi-intelligent user can build
I implemented a major finance system recently, and we provided Brio as an
end-user reporting tool. The idea was that users are best placed to know
what information is required, and that Brio was a very user-friendly tool
that would facilitate end-users creating and running their own reports.It
soon became clear that there were a number of problems here
- the end-users knew what they wanted, but were not the best people to
implement that need
- the system had so much information that could be so useful to the
organisation, a co-ordinated, overall (dare I say holistic?) approach was
needed to the MI.
- Brio is easy to use, but the key factor is understanding the data model,
which needs a large degree of expert knowledge which is unreasonable to
expect from end-users.
As such, we decided that we needed an MI application to sit on top of the
main finance application. We decided that the main components of this
application would be
- Brio would remain as the report generator - Brio is a very powerful query
tool, with pivot tables, charting, reporting functions, dashboards and also
supports computed data and a comprehensive report scheduler, so Brio can add
value to the raw data
- information would be delivered in an intranet, refreshed daily, using IIS
- reports would be output to Excel (users love Excel) in certain
circumstances, but this was seen as the last step, most data manipulation
being done in the data query, or within Brio, before exporting to Excel.
This MI has worked very well, has been very well received, and is a bedrock
that is added to monthly. The business rely heavily upon it, and they do
good stuff (in Excel of course) with the outputs by combining data, doing
further analysis, etc. We have a god system whereby they will prototype an
idea, and if it flies then it is considered for migration to a full
implementation within the MI application. One other aspect that we
implemented was to have Brio experts in the user areas, to provide another
practical link between the business and IT.
Whilst we have used Brio, IIS and ASP very successfully in this application,
I think the key was that the problem was recognised (as I guess that you are
doing by asking this question), and rather than just keep building yet
another prototype/add-on that became a maintenance nightmare, we designed
and implemented a full solution, one that was flexible, extendible, easy to
use, but most importantly, provided value.
... looking out across Poole Harbour to the Purbecks
(remove nothere from the email address if mailing direct)
"monika" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> this is a very gereric question. I am working on excel for
> last couple of months. I am automating reports for my
> finance user. THe process being followed doesnt seem
> intelligent to me. I want to take experts opinion ... I
> will expalin the whole senario.
> The data I am using comes from IT department to our
> department. The data originally stored is in oracle. AND
> to us it comes in excel format where some massaging is
> done with the data per requirement.
> Infact our departmetn also uses data from other
> departmetns say planning,etc. Finally the data comes from
> the IT deaprt only. Since we need to generate
> weekly/monthly reports so we are using VBA/Macros. It
> departments also uses Business oBjects. But since the
> reports generated from BO cannot be manipulated hence BO
> is not used anymore. FOr the convenience we started
> devloping reports in VBA.
> I somehow feel this is not an intelligent solution. AS
> excel is so volatile while doing programming i realised it
> can collapse anytime ...
> I wanted to have ideas as to how it can be improved...
> those hwo are highly experienced how do thye manage
> reports in day to day use. DOes anyone uses BRIO or
> BO...are these serving your purpose. I dont know whether
> BRIO or BO are intelligetn reports builder. I just have a
> vague idea.
> thanks for taking time to share your thoughts,