5 Tips for Deploying SumTotal Reporting and Analytics

Aug 24, 2016

5 Tips for Deploying SumTotal Reporting and Analytics

Whether you’re 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 enterprise learning and talent activities will produce valuable data. We want to share our experience to help you get the full value of the information you generate.

1. Start with Data Quality

As discussed in a previous article, a data governance framework is the most important tool in your reporting and analytics development. Agreeing on standards, policies, and procedures now will have a tremendous impact on your business results.

If you don’t have a data governance program for SumTotal, we recommend you start a conversation with your Chief Data Officer. You have a critical gap if your company doesn’t have a CDO. Moreover, you’ve uncovered an opportunity to transform your business.

Before you think about putting data governance on your “do later” list, think about this: Lights On Data estimates the cost of poor data quality to be $3.1 trillion in the U.S. Their study pegs each company’s loss at 10-25% of revenue per year.

But losses are only part of the equation. Consider also the gains in productivity and decision-making when you have quality data flow. According to ObservePoint, Forrester found in 2020 that the average return on investment in bringing data up to accepted quality standards is 432%.

Even in a platform like SumTotal, where the data structure and permissions are well-defined, you need optimized data streams, naming conventions, report 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 need guidance on how to get started, we recommend the Data Governance Institute as an information and training resource, or you can call us if you have questions.

2. Align reporting with your organizational structure

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.

3. Understand User Needs

SumTotal will generate a tremendous amount of valuable data. With the growth of xAPI data capture and transfer, you can track and measure any learning event, including peer-to-peer learning and mentoring. You can create assessments, track the time to complete activities, and measure engagement. Instead of waiting until the end of a course, you can also use spot checks to ensure your people are learning.

Before we discuss the recommendations for developing your reports library, there are some things to consider:

  • People rarely know what they want until they see it; showing them one kind of report will often prompt them to ask for a different one.
  • They rarely think about the information they need until the moment they need it.
  • Besides learning measurement, you can track cost data and compare it to changes in productivity and revenue 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.

See Measure the Real Impact of Learning in SumTotal Advanced Reporting to learn more.

Evaluate Standard Reports

You can save a lot of time and trouble if the standard reports meet some of your needs. SumTotal LXMS 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.

4. Assess Requirements

Once you have a thorough grounding on the standard reports that are available, assess your users’ requirements. Current information needs for most users will be available on 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 reports engine 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.

Keep in mind that providing useful information will create a demand for more. Help your learners, managers, and executives explore the possibilities.

5. Prepare for 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 may require an advanced analytics engine.

You have many options for deploying analytics in your organization. Weigh the capabilities, costs, and benefits 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, with the Jaspersoft reports engine. Use Jaspersoft tools to explore how you can use colors and formatting to help deliver business intelligence.
  • If you want more display options, you can deploy Jaspersoft Studio and import your files into SumTotal.
  • Many third-party analytics platforms are available, beginning with the Jaspersoft interface. Your business may already have enterprise-class solutions from ERP vendors like Oracle, SAP, and IBM. Business intelligence providers like Tableau, SAS, and QlikView 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 another open-source platform.

Build an Agile Learning Organization

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 that delivers a high return on investment.

For more information on integrations, see our guide to SumTotal data integration challenges.

Read more…

How to take control of SumTotal Advanced Reporting

 Do you have questions about SumTotal Reporting and Analytics?

Book a free consultation with a SumTotal expert. 

Book a Consultation Now

About Pixentia

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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