A common project requirement in the reporting and analytics world is replicating existing reports.
For example, in its first large scale project with OnApproach, a major client requested that over 100 current reports be replicated the first phase.
The reasons seemed plausible:
“These reports are used extensively in our critical processes.”
“Employees are familiar with the reports so replicating them will promote acceptance of the new system.”
“The existing reports can be used to validate the new system.”
We counseled the client to reconsider this requirement.
Exactly replicating existing reports in a new analytics system without first analyzing current underlying information needs is a wasteful exercise. Along with the useful aspects of existing reports, obsolete (and potentially misleading) elements are incorporated as well. That which is truly useful risks being obscured in a tangle of less meaningful “noise”
Best of breed reporting and analytics projects may use existing reports as a starting point for building requirements. In this process emphasis is placed on identifying the most meaningful information and discarding all else.
Skipping this information analysis step in an effort to save money and/or speed up the project is extremely short-sighted because blindly replicating existing reports risks putting (very expensive) lipstick on a reporting pig.