Have you ever started to scope a project for a specific business process, for example, a departmental KPI scorecard, and discovered that "ad hoc" reporting and data access were part of the expectation? Beware! The term "ad hoc" carries a wide range of expectations. Generally, the more technology-savvy clients have the highest, and frequently most unrealistic expectations. They imagine point-and-click access to both summary and detailed data. They envision slicing/dicing/drilling on any available data element. They want Web-delivered, instantaneous response, with crisp, precise, printer formatting from web pages.
Most of these client expectations are technically feasible, but a single software tool, from a single data mart, rarely delivers them in an ad hoc fashion. Why?
- Multidimensional data marts that deliver summarized numeric data perform as the best slicing/dicing platforms.
- Relational data marts that offer text and numeric data perform as the best detailed reporting platforms.
- Instantaneous access to summarized data requires prior knowledge of the requirement (not ad hoc), so that the summary might be designed, pre-calculated, and made available without real-time aggregations.
- Many multidimensional reporting tools do not effectively deliver ROLAP data, and vice versa.
- Many easy-to-use and effective web-deployment tools do not support formatted print pages.
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This was first published in September 2002