Reporting Guidelines: Standardize Your Layouts

This article is day two in a week of reporting articles.

Create standard layouts for both landscape and portrait reports and have them approved by management. Many larger companies have Corporate Identity Guidelines created by marketing experts with standards already defined for marketing and sales documents. Adhere to the standards religiously. If creating your own, you should adopt standard fonts, logos, colors, and style as well for all parts of the report. This standardization makes reports easy for the users to scan and makes them look professional. I’ll share some of the specific report guidelines that I use in Crystal Reports and SSRS in a later article. As I mentioned previously, I wish M2M had a way to customize the style of all of their reports in one place.

Remember that you don’t have to have a degree in design to create a good standard layout, but almost all of your reports should conform to that standard. Be sure to get your standard layout approved by management, and be prepared to change reports over time. Executives seem to enjoy changing these standards, and companies sometimes change their logo and branding. Depending on which system you are using, you may be able to change much of that automatically but often not all of it.

Since I’m discussing standardization, I’ll mention T-SQL queries here. Develop standard SQL templates for the basic departments in your database. For example, since incoming sales reports are popular, create a robust select statement, alias it properly, and use it as the base for all of your sales reports. Doing so will save you incalculable time down the road. As time goes on, I will post more and more of mine to this blog.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss hitting your target.

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