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Business Objects Reporting Top Tips

You’re probably doing more absence reporting right now then ever before, looking at COVID 19 absence, furlough, looking at comparisons against previous years, and other absence reasons, days and hours lost in your organisation and worst affected areas. You may have increased the frequency of this reporting from monthly reporting to weekly or daily. Have you remembered to have iTrent to do a full sickness absence calculation so that you can get accurate data in your reports. This is often overlooked and can lead to poor quality data.

Is your business objects universe upto date. Your HR system will get quarterly updates, for new fields and functionality, but do you know if the business objects universe is. It’s great to have new functionality but if you can’t use that data in your KPI’s and reporting it can be really frustrating. I’ve recently been involved in building reports where the universe that stores all the data is 3 years old. As well as giving you the new fields it will also deal with any glitches that might have been found.

Do you use Business Objects to deliver reports to requestors automatically through your email system? You can schedule reports to go to 1 or a whole list of recipients. I once set up 4 reports to be delivered to 120 schools on a monthly basis at 7.30 am on the 1st of the month. Setting up a scheduled report can be a great way of managing repeating requests. You can also set up reports to help manage the quality of the data held in your system, this might be to look for key missing data, or anomalies, a recent example of this is looking for comma’s that have been added in addresses. This report goes to a admin team and they need to remove the offending comma’s as they can cause issues if you use the address in upload csv files.

When you export your business objects report to excel do you immediately have to delete column A and row 1 to move the table to the top of the excel workbook. I used to do this time after time with reports. If you position the table in Business objects to be exactly in the top left corner then when you export to excel that is where it will be. To do this
• Right click on the border of the table
• Select Format Table on the menu that appears
• Select Layout
• Set the two field for “Position” to be 0.
• Then select “OK”

I used to hate it when I exported a report to excel and had to add in a border to the cells in the table. Business objects tables can look very flat on a page when exported to excel, and I would add the border for every report that I exported.
Now I set a border to be on every cell in business objects. To do this:

• Click on the first data cell in the table, not the column title
• Then hold “SHIFT” on your keyboard and click into every column
• After you have selected the final column Right click ten select “format Cell”
• Select Border, select the colour that you want, then hit “OK”.
• There will now be borders around the cell.

Have you ever added the reporting manager field to a report and noticed that an employees line of data has disappeared? At places where I have previously worked it was always the Chief Executives name that went missing. This was because that they didn’t have a reporting manager. Does the same happen when you add in Category, type, basis, pension scheme?

There are a number of fields throughout the business objects universe that can have an unexpected impact on your reports. If any of the above fields have a null value in the field, if you simply add the field into your business objects report the line of data will disappear.

So how do you overcome this. You need to set up a second query that contains this piece of data and use it as a look up table with your main report. This is a very similar process to doing a vlookup in excel. Both reports need to contain the same unique identifier that you can merge together to provide a link between the two queries. The next step is to create a Variable, a new field, that will be used to show the data item in the new report.

This is a really key process that has caught out many business objects reports writers. You should always know how many records that you expect to have in a report, run a check report that you know returns the correct number of employees. You could also run data quality reports that run automatically to highlight those employee records that are missing this data.

This article was written by Paul McKeown, HR Systems Consultant at Phase 3.

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