By Garth Jones
In some recent blog posts, I talked about Business Intelligence (BI) reports and other different types of reports. This blog post will take things a step further and I will look at some of the best report styles for ConfigMgr.
Now I’m not talking about the look and feel of a report, such as fonts, text color, overall color schema, data time formats, etc. Instead, I’m talking about whether or not a visual aid will be used, will the report simply list some common details about a computer item, or will the report list full details about a computer.
Before we get started let’s talk about Configuration Manager. This will help define what styles of reports are generally used to display information from ConfigMgr.
Since Configuration Manager is not a real-time product, there is no point it trying to create real-time reports. Additionally, since ConfigMgr’s database can contain information about 400,000 computers it doesn’t make sense to list everything you know about every computer in one report. Even for a small number like 30 computers it doesn’t make sense to create a report with everything. If you do try to create a report like this, you will overwhelm the user and it will affect the performance of SQL when you execute the query.
How do you best display information so that you don’t overwhelm the user or affect the performance of SQL Server itself?
Start by selecting a topic area, Microsoft Office version, for example. Now that you have a topic area, what do you care about the most? The number of different versions and suites you have of Microsoft Office? By limiting the information to a topic area, you are helping to ensure that you are not overwhelming the user or SQL Server itself. In this case, this question can be best answered by using a dashboard report, what I often refer to as a count report.
Additionally, this type of report would most likely have a visual aid such as a chart. This could be a pie chart, a donut chart, or a choropleth map.
I also like to include a table with a summary of what is displayed in the chart of a dashboard report. See the screenshot below. This allows the user to see the information in a graphic format and then review the summary data in the table.
It’s great to see how many computers have Microsoft Office 2013, but what this report doesn’t tell you is exactly what computers have Microsoft Office 2013 installed. This is where the next report comes into play. I like to call this one a list report. See screenshot below. These reports generally have a table with 5 to 7 columns which displays important details about the computers and users with a particular item in common.
This report, however, doesn’t display all of the details associated with each computer, so this leads us to the next report I like to call a detail report. Detail reports are generally the last report found within a report set. Detail reports will close the loop with the count report by providing all the fine details about the topic area for a computer or a user.
Using the Microsoft Office example, you can see what other Microsoft Office products are installed on this computer. This allows the reader to make an informed decision about upgrading the license or removing redundant software.
In answer to the question, “What Are the Best Report Types for ConfigMgr?” you need to select a report style and a narrow topic that will not overload the reader with too much information and will not affect the performance of SQL Server. As you can see, the report styles I mentioned above (Dashboard/Count, List, Detail) do exactly that. They will not overwhelm with too much information and will not overload SQL Server itself. You will find that Enhansoft’s reports will follow this logic to help you quickly understand your environment and provide you with business intelligence, which will ultimately allow you to help make an informed decision.