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This powerpoint accompianied a presentation and demo of the LSU AgCenter's reporting application and use of ad-hoc reporting

This powerpoint accompianied a presentation and demo of the LSU AgCenter's reporting application and use of ad-hoc reporting

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  • 2. Why Accounting?
    • Known problem area
    • Pre-existing reports
    • Simple starting point to explore options for future, more complex data
  • 3. In the beginning… (and for a long, long time…) There was paper.
  • 4. Paper Is Bad, M’Kay?
    • Generated on a fixed schedule at a central location
    • Mailed to extension offices - Out of date by time of receipt
    • Easy to misplace, stain with coffee, etc.
    • Not a usable format for other reporting needs
    • Takes up storage space
  • 5. A New Age Dawns
    • Microsoft releases Reporting Services as part of SQL Server
    • Web-based, on-demand access
    • Easily exportable to PDF, Excel and other formats
    • Drill-through ability provides detail without searching
  • 6.  
  • 7. But it is a Cloudy Beginning…
    • Security
      • A user is granted access to specific account codes
      • PI’s on a grant should also see their grant accounts without having to request access
    • Usability
      • Where to put documentation??
    • Development & Extensibility
      • IT has to create all new reports – requires development time and understanding of data
  • 8. Addressing Security
    • What level to add it? RS? DB? SProcs?
    • Granted domain users sproc access
    • Added a function to all stored procedures that matches a user’s access to the requested account codes and strips out any part of the request that is unauthorized
    • Created an application allowing Accounting Services to grant access to users on an account code or account mask
  • 9. Usability & The Default Installation
    • No instructions or help
      • Users unsure of their own access
      • Users unsure of some reports’ function/purpose
    • No parameter verification
      • Bad parameter entry = blank report = support phone call
    • No connection to the rest of our intranet
    • Bottom Line: Lots of IT Time providing support for very basic usability issues
  • 10. The Sun Comes Out!
    • Created a Web Wrapper Application to integrate:
      • Instructions
      • Report descriptions
      • Account access display
      • Parameter verification
      • Connected to our intranet
  • 11. Adding New Reports to the Wrapper
    • How to add a new report without modifying code?
    • Financial Reports have a standard set of parameters – build a user control for each
    • Use an XML document to define report info
    • Dynamically build parameter entry screen
    • Dynamically load report
    • Add new report by updating XML document
  • 12. A Light Bulb Moment
    • What if I could give users the tools to make their own reports?
    • Enter: Report Builder
  • 13. Report Builder Overview
    • Uses pre-defined data model to create a user-friendly “view” of data
    • Data Model allows for security/access restrictions
    • Data Model handles common statistical functions
    • Drag and Drop fields and filters to create reports on demand
    • Intelligent grouping and subtotaling is automatic but configurable
    • Create new fields based on calculations - math or text
  • 14.  
  • 15.  
  • 16. Building the Report Model
    • Add common calculations as fields
    • Give user-friendly names
    • Define relationships between tables
    • Set up common look-up values
    • Define selection type (when field is used as filter)
    • Security Filters are Finicky!!!
    • Not-so-great documentation
    • Bypasses existing security model**
  • 17. Security Concerns
    • Row-Level security needed to be added
    • Modify security model
      • Can’t use SQL Function with Current User to limit results
      • Can’t match to account masks – must be direct match
    • Enable a security filter by:
      • Exploding security table to a explicit user: explicit account set of records
      • Add filters on sensitive entities based on current user and exploded records
  • 18. Using the Model in Report Builder
    • Access to the model is granted to Accounting Services and Power Users
    • The data that the model pulls is limited based on the current user’s access
    • Users can create table, matrix or chart report formats
    • Grouping and subtotaling is automatically added based on the order of the fields in a table or matrix
  • 19.  
  • 20.  
  • 21.  
  • 22. Publish Reports
    • One-time reports can be discarded
    • Regular reports can be saved to report server
    • Now: IT can add a server report to the wrapper application for all users or for a unit-based group
    • Later: The user will be able to fill out an online form to add the server report to the wrapper application
  • 23. Lessons Learned
    • Start with the model
      • I created views, sprocs, security tables, etc. for direct data source connections early on
      • All this can be encapsulated in a report model, which can be used for both ad-hoc and tech-designed reports
    • Back up and test every step when working with security filters
    • Spend the time to train or write on-demand help
    • If your data will be consumed by other applications, investigate database row-level security
  • 24. Lessons Learned, cont.
    • Determine all access methods early on
      • Direct database querying
      • Report model querying
      • Stored procedures only
    • ??Can report models be built off of stored procedures? If so, can we remove domain user read access from tables??
  • 25. Questions for Future Growth
    • How do we address the same types of concerns in more diverse fields where parameters are not standard?
    • How do we control the proliferation of new user-generated reports, maintain organization and prevent duplication?
  • 26. Future Directions
    • In accounting:
      • Projections – state budget or sponsored program budget
      • Different Fiscal Years
      • Historical perspectives
    • Other data areas:
      • Human Resources
      • Grants/Sponsored Programs
      • Research Data
      • Extension Reporting
    • Delivery through MOSS (LSU AgCenter Intranet)
  • 27. Contact
    • Sarah Johnston
    • [email_address]
    • (225) 578 - 6311