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Do You Need a BI Tool to Make Ad-Hoc Reports?

DZone 's Guide to

Do You Need a BI Tool to Make Ad-Hoc Reports?

When creating a BI system or data visualization dashboard for business users, ease of use becomes a key factor.

· Big Data Zone ·
Free Resource

Is it possible to make users of your database information system (ERP or CRM) self-sufficient in serving their data needs without the use of complicated and expensive BI tools?

This article is about straightening out the process of getting data within an organization for all employees with different skills and knowledge.

While programmers and database admins can freely write SQL requests and export data from a database, this task will make the hair stand up on the back of a business user’s neck. Still, they need to have access anyway, so the data must flow!

Any PC user can work with spreadsheets, but accessing SQL databases is way too hard for an inexperienced user. In this environment, IT-savvy people get more and more strenuous workloads retrieving data, but is there a solution which can be integrated into your internal system that’s as easy to use as a regular spreadsheet editor?

Live Example

Let's review a case with a sales operations manager in a grocery store network who needs to monitor the remaining number of products in warehouses across the state to minimize leftovers. It is an essential supply chain task that reduces surplus (which leads to a crisis when left uncontrolled). This task, when perfectly executed, maximizes profit and customer satisfaction.

An ordinary sales operations manager doesn't have enough skills to write SQL requests but needs to access data every day. For this purpose, s/he asks a SQL-proficient colleague to get the data from the database. A single work-hour from a SQL expert costs anywhere from $25 (SQL data analyst) to $55 (SQL developer), but, even worse, is that a developer has to switch from other strategically important tasks to the low-qualified (from a master’s degree developer point of view) job of accessing data.

The worst-case scenario is if a developer cannot afford to be distracted, and a sales operations manager becomes responsible for leftovers and spoiled products, which will lead to internal tension in the company. Why not remove this potentially dangerous extra step in the chain of communication?

Otherwise, you can hire a full-time programmer who will specifically perform these types of tasks, but why do you need someone who manually transfers products from one conveyor belt to another? It’s better to “hire” a robot to do that.

How Can a SQL Query Builder Solve This Problem?

A SQL database operator needs to be qualified enough to access a SQL database. However, with a DB access tool, it becomes available to everyone, so it can serve as an alternative for a business intelligence tool. The resolution of this essential problem will minimize the chain of delegation for accessing data and will create incentives for employees to work more efficiently by accessing data on their own.

This solves not just one problem, but many subsequent problems as well, which adds up to process optimization and business growth.

With the help of a SQL data access module, data analysts and other users who were struggling before will start getting data directly for their day-to-day activities. This will save you more resources for strategic development rather than routine (yet important) tasks for accessing SQL.

SQL Simplified

How can a non-technician learn SQL and become familiar with a database schema without taking extensive courses? A visual interface for building queries solves only part of the problem. End users will also need to see where the required data resides in the database, and how each database table is related to the others. Just provide users with a clear view of the schema, and let them explore it and try out standard access operations. It’s the quickest way to learn how to operate a database.

Active Query Builder lets the DB admin prepare an easy-to-understand presentation of the database schema for users. Plus, a live update of the data result they’re searching for is a great help. A perfect analogy for that is autocomplete suggestions in smartphones and Google searches that simplify day-to-day life.

Building your own DB access module with the help of Active Query Builder will optimize business processes in your organization once and for all. Even if your business grows rapidly, the access module will continue to serve all employees well.

Does Your Business Need a DB Access Module?

Let’s walk through the checklist to figure out if it’s appropriate for your situation. There are a few technical prerequisites for you to consider as well before implementing a DB access tool.

Mid-to-Large Business

Usually, this solution is acquired by mid-to-large companies with more than 30 people on staff. Smaller companies, especially IT companies, as a rule, don't have very complex databases with a CRM and a lot of operators and can handle them on their own.

It Must Be a SQL Database

SQL databases have proven to be the most commonly used databases. There are many database management systems: MS SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, etc. Any of them will work fine for organizing universal DB access.

Proprietary ERP or CRM Systems

A large number of companies use their own in-house systems to organize internal data, for example, a self-written CRM to organize a customer database.

Note: Commercial CRM systems, like SalesForce, won’t work because they work with databases in their own hidden way.

Are There Cases When You Don’t Need It?

Aside from proprietary systems that manage databases in a way that you can’t interfere with, there are some other reasons you might not need to implement a DB access tool. Here are a few cases where you’d be better off without it:

  • If you work with regular Excel datasheets, not databases.
  • If you don’t need ad-hoc reporting.
  • If you already have all the necessary reports.

How to Set Up a Data Access Module

Setting up the module will take minimal effort and produce maximum results. No heavy scripting is needed if your database is clearly organized and easy to understand. Advanced configuration processes don’t usually take longer than a few hours or a couple of days, depending on the complexity of your database and your perfectionism,

Topics:
sql ,query databases ,query builder for mysql ,big data ,data management

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