The business world is becoming more digitalized by the day.
Companies, great and small, share a common desire to streamline their internal operations and thus maximize productivity.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that people are leaning towards automated reporting tools to achieve these goals.
No matter which stage of growth a business finds itself in, it needs clear goals to keep it moving forward. These goals are tracked using key metrics, referred to as key performance indicators.
And these KPIs allow a business to evaluate its performance and make needed adjustments along the way.
KPIs are shared in business reports that are shared daily, weekly, monthly, and perhaps even yearly. But this presents a problem.
Companies use different platforms for advertising campaigns, marketing outreach campaigns, marketing reports and website hosting.
How can you retrieve accurate data from all these different sources efficiently and accurately? That’s where an automated reporting system comes in.
Report automation collects essential data from multiple platforms, or in some cases, websites, and generates an overview report for consideration.
There’s another reason why businesses are leaning ever more towards digitalizing things.
Imagine, for a moment, a marketing agency meeting with a potential client.
With a lot hinging on the success of the meeting, those on the pitching side of the negotiation table want to give the best first impression.
If that agency pulls out a single report with metrics and data in a neatly organized report, they’ll stand a higher chance of securing the job.
Let’s now highlight a few other key benefits.
According to a survey of 1000 people working for small and medium-sized companies, 29% said they spend between 4 and 5 hours daily performing core job functions.
As if that’s not alarming enough, the same study found that 76% of people spend between 1 and 3 hours a day manually entering data into operating systems. In addition, 73% of workers spend 1-3 hours just trying to find information or a particular document. (1)
Automatic reporting frees up valuable time that workers lose by doing manual entry.
The entire workforce can then focus their time and energy on more human-centric tasks such as following up with customers or suppliers.
A central software system allows various departments to access the same data.
This transparency enables collaboration as different teams can use one report to work from, even from various geographical locations.
Allowing team members access to the same reports also builds trust. Employees hate thinking that they’re being left out of the loop.
So make sure you grant all the right people access to your automated reports and you’ll notice their confidence in the company grow.
Automated reporting gives businesses an accurate, up-to-date picture of what’s happening on the ground at any given time.
This is especially important if you have departments functioning from different geographical locations.
Real-time data = Real-Time decision making
You can act swiftly and decisively when you don’t have to wait for reports to be collected from different departments. And as a result, business production or workflow can continue to operate at a steady pace.
No matter how hard we try, we all make mistakes. And this is even more true when we face anxiety at work.
According to a study by AADA, 50% of workers admitted that work-related stress affects the quality of their work. (2)
And we all know how much stress chasing deadlines causes. The last thing you want is for the quality of your reports to be impacted because of a stressed employee trying to enter data from various sources manually.
This is especially important during crucial decision-making meetings where companies depend on data accuracy.
A misplaced comma or unassigned data entry could potentially have huge consequences for your business, so reduce the chance of human error by canceling manual calculations.
So, some serious pros exist to using report automation tools in everyday business. But how do you actually do it?
Let’s have a look.
Here’s an overview of how to do it using two web analytics tools, Abralytics and Google Analytics.
Abralytics is a web analytics tool that has gained popularity, partly due to its ability to marry in-depth reporting with easy-to-use functionality.
Unlike other well-known platforms that seem to overwhelm more than make life easier for many users, Abralytics takes a less is more approach to their business, including report automation.
With just a few clicks, you can give your team access to the most valuable data in your business.
As mentioned earlier, the first step is to identify your business KPIs.
You can set these KPIs as key widgets in your Abralytics reports and, in doing so, view only the data you need rather than too much data at once.
The platform also helps you save time as the learning curve is super low, and the setup is pain-free.
Abralytics also allows you to view data from an infinite number of websites using one platform. It automatically generates weekly and monthly reports for all sites and sends these by e-mail.
That’s the kind of initiative that draws so many to Abralytics.
Easy, hassle-free automated reporting software.
GA has been the go-to web analytics tool for many years, so it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll want to automate your reports stemming from their products.
That’s precisely why Google Data Studio was released in 2016 as a free automated reporting tool for individual users and small teams.
Google Data Studio lets you view reports from various data sources in one compelling dashboard. It uses charts, bars, and other visual customizations to display all the important figures in one space.
This, in turn, allows you to meet with clients or coworkers and run through all the most critical numbers that appear in your reports.
To access Google Data Studio, simply navigate to data.studio.google and pick one of the available templates, or start from scratch by choosing the blank report option.
Then simply follow the steps as coached in the program.
You’ll notice that you can use multiple data sources in the same report, categorized by their product funnel.
You can choose from Google consumer products, such as Sheets, YouTube, and Search Console.
You can also use data from Social media platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter.
And seeing as you’re already a user of GA, Google Marketing Platform products, including Google Ads, Analytics, Display & Video 360, and Search Ads 360.
Simply invite members from within your organization to view and edit reports from anywhere in the world and watch as your team members' productivity skyrockets.
The number of configurable abilities of GA is astonishing, but this can lead to confusion and make the product less desirable, as the overall strength of the platform is simply too much for some.
Most people will agree on a few best practices when you set up your Report Automation. Here’s a breakdown of the most important things to remember when setting things up.
There are so many metrics to track across different platforms.
Can you imagine receiving all this data at one time?
It would be tough to separate what needs immediate attention from what can be addressed at a later time, overwhelming even.
So choose only the most critical KPIs to include in your automated reports and focus on them one at a time.
Related: Top E-commerce Metrics to Track
Some businesses have regular brainstorming sessions. Those types of companies will benefit from receiving weekly reports that give insights into the latest happenings of their organization.
Other corporations will have set meetings on a monthly basis, perhaps discussing marketing data. These larger corporations would need to run their reporting software less often.
It boils down to the needs of each business.
Make sure that the automated reporting intervals are set to best suit the needs of your company or individual departments within your organization.
Automated reports can greatly help your business and make life easier for everyone involved. However, they need to be consistent in format to be understood by everyone.
So before setting up your automated reporting system, figure out what format it will take on.
Will it have graphs and charts?
Will it be a read only document, or will other be able to edit the content?
Deciding on these things before sending out those first reports will make a huge difference in the learning curve.
Then there’s also the question of whether or not it will have a ‘live update’ feature. With this, figures and quantities could be automatically adjusted within the report as they appear on your system.
New technology can also be highly confusing to team members, especially if not everyone shares the same workspace.
So, after identifying who will have access to your reports, provide those team members with the training they need to fully benefit from the data shared.
They might need help viewing the reports, editing, or suggesting changes. Even something as simple as a chart or graph might need some initial explanation.
Fortunately this type of training can take on many forms and doesn’t need to be in person. You can simply conduct training session via a video conferencing tool or even better, a once off pre recorded tutorial that outlines the basics of the reporting tool.
This initial investment in your time will make the entire reporting process smoother in the long run.
Once you’ve identified what data to include, how often it’s needed, and provided training to team members, you can set up your reporting automation.
There are two things always on a business owner's mind - saving time and money.
Manual reporting can be very time consuming. Having valuable team members sift through endless amounts of data just to compile a report doesn’t make good business sense. So firstly, automated reporting saves on time.
And secondly, when sending reports happens in a timely manner, you save money as your business is able to run without interruption.
While setting up automated website reports takes some initial time and effort, the benefits cannot be over-emphasized. Set up automated reports for your company today and we promise you won’t regret it.
1 - Zapier Report
2 - AADA Report