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5 Tips for Deploying SumTotal Reporting and Analytics

Aug 24, 2016

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Whether you are preparing to implement SumTotal Advanced Reporting for the first time or seeking to improve your reports, there are many decisions to make along the way. Your learning and talent activities will produce a tremendous amount of valuable data. We want to share some of our experience to help you get the full value of the information you generate.

As we discussed in a previous article, the most important tool in your reporting and analytics development is a data governance framework. Agreeing on standards, policies, and procedures now will save you a lot of trouble later on. If you don’t have data governance in place, we recommend you get the conversation started.

Even in a platform like SumTotal, where the data structure and permissions are well-defined, you need to have naming conventions, reports management and delivery, and server load management protocols in place. Without that governance, you risk

  • frustrating your users when they must search long lists of incomprehensible report names to find the one they need,
  • cluttering your lists with obsolete and duplicated reports, and
  • bogging down your servers during peak load times,

If you require guidance on how to get started, we recommend the Data Governance Institute as an information resource, or you can call us if you have questions.

Deploying Advanced Reporting

How you set up your reporting structure and permissions depends on your organization and how you conduct your daily business. If you have a compliance driven, command-and-control organization, you might restrict reporting to a small select group. If you have an open, fluid, team-based organization, you may give permissions to many people. Be aware that the more people involved, the harder it is to maintain standards.

Getting Started

SumTotal will generate tremendous amount of valuable data. With the growth of eLearning, you can track much more than course completion. You now can create assessments, track the time to complete activities, and measure engagement. Instead of waiting until the end of a course, you can use spot checks to ensure users learning.

Before we discuss the recommended for developing your reports library, there are a some things to consider.

  • People rarely know what they want until they see it, and showing them one kind of report will often prompt them to ask for another.
  • They rarely think about the information they need the moment they need it. We recommend having a process in place for users to request reports and have them developed quickly if they don’t have permission to create their own.

Besides learning measurement, you can track cost data to calculate the ROI of each learning program. You will have many options to integrate operational data to assess the impact of learning on the business.

Deploying SumTotal Advanced Reporting

The first in deployment is to know what you have. SumTotal delivers standard reports that can cover almost all of your routine reporting needs. Use those delivered reports as the starting point for any additional reports you need to develop.

  • Once you have a thorough grounding on the standard reports that are available, assess your users’ requirements. Information needs for most users will be embedded in their home page and resources. Some will need more granular information, while others require summaries in crosstab reports and charts.
  • Start your development effort by understanding the needs of each group of users. Roles will have similar needs, but it helps to work with people in each role to understand what information they require and how they will use it.
  • For those who need regular recurring reports, use the scheduling function to provide them. Create reports only once, then let the computers do the work.
  • When you create custom reports, test them to make sure they are providing all the right information, calculating custom fields correctly, and conforming to your security settings.
  • Establish a procedure for requesting new reports and revising old ones.

Advanced Analytics

Decision-makers in your organization will require more than reports. The fast pace of change in business today demands that business leaders have information at their fingertips. We recommend customizable real-time dashboards to assist your executives in their decision-making. The dashboards will require an advanced analytics engine.

You have many options for deploying analytics in your organization. Consider the capabilities, costs, and benefits carefully before you choose.

  • If you already have analytics in place, one option is to use SumTotal’s integration tools to send data to your analytics platform, data mart, or data warehouse.
  • If you do not have an analytics platform, or if you manage workforce analytics separately, SumTotal Analytics is available. It is built on industry’s most advanced business intelligence solution.
  • Many third party analytics platforms are available. There are enterprise class solutions from ERP vendors like Oracle and SAP. Business intelligence providers like Tableau, SAS, and Qlik view are highly rated, and there are lower-cost open-source solutions like Pentaho and TIBCO.
  • If you are on a tight budget, we recommend a custom executive dashboard on your SumTotal news page using the Jaspersoft tool in SumTotal or an open source platform.

We hope these tips help you with a successful reporting and analytics deployment. Managing your learning and talent information well will help you build an agile learning organization.

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For more information on integrations, see our article about SumTotal data integration challenges.

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.

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