Are your reports gathering dust?
3 reasons why reports get orphaned and unused
Kseniia Armashula
Head of Marketing at Accton
We all know that reports contain valuable insights that help companies make magic happen. But some of these reports end up unused and abandoned, like dusty old books in a forgotten library. Ever wondered why?

This is a common challenge many companies face. Some reports, once essential for decision-making, are now left forgotten within the corporate BI landscape. Others never even get popular after development.

This leads to wasted resources and risks for company's data-driven future.

In this article, we will explore the three primary reasons behind the occurrence of orphaned and unused reports: negligence, changing business needs, and lack of user awareness.

Understanding these reasons is crucial for companies to optimize their reporting practices and ensure that data-driven insights remain at the forefront of decision-making processes.
Reason 1: Lack of Visibility and Access
Picture this: a report was once the star of the show, helping teams make data-driven decisions, but suddenly, it's tucked away in a dark corner, accessible only to a select few.

One of the main culprits behind orphaned reports is organizational changes. When employees leave the company or switch roles, their access to certain reports might get lost in the shuffle. As a result, these once-critical reports are left collecting dust.

Another sneaky way that reports end up as lonely orphans is the lack of discoverability. Imagine a report that was created with the best intentions to drive valuable insights, but it's buried under layers of folders. It becomes an "out of sight, out of mind" situation, and even if it's still useful, no one remembers it exists.

To combat this, companies need to prioritize visibility and accessibility. It's like ensuring that everyone gets a front-row seat to the analytics repository. Regularly review and update user access rights to reports, making sure that the right people can always access the right data. And, don't forget to provide proper training and onboarding for new team members, so they know which reports can bring actual value to their daily work.

A good thing to do is to use some kind of analytics portal where all reports are listed and available for further access.

Reason 2: Shifting Business Needs
Business needs can shift and evolve over time. Reports that were once in high demand might lose their sparkle when business priorities change.

As business strategies pivot and new challenges emerge, some reports become less relevant and gradually fall into disuse. It's not that they've lost their value entirely; it's just that they no longer address the pressing questions and needs of the organization.

Unfortunately, these forgotten reports can take up valuable server space and clutter the BI environment.

So, what can be done to prevent reports from gathering virtual dust?

Embrace the concept of "BI clean-up" - just like giving your wardrobe a makeover. Regularly assess the relevance and usefulness of reports, and don't hesitate to retire those that are no longer in use. We have a whole ebook about how to do it right and fast. By keeping your report collection up-to-date, you ensure that the BI landscape remains fresh and aligned with current business goals.
Additionally, encourage open communication with report users and stakeholders. Listen to their needs and feedback, and be agile in responding to new reporting requirements. Sometimes, a small tweak to an existing report can breathe new life into it, making it a valuable asset once again.
Lastly, take advantage of advanced analytics management tools that allow for a single place to store and manage reports, have built-in processes to automate repository clean-ups and easy chats for stakeholder communication and reports revision.
Reason 3: Lack of User Awareness
One of the common reasons for reports becoming orphans is the lack of user awareness.

Even if a report is well-designed and packed with valuable insights, it won't fulfil its purpose if users are unaware of its existence. Sometimes, the report creators assume that users will magically find and embrace their creations. However, in reality, it takes more than magic - it takes proactive promotion and communication.

To combat this issue, companies should invest in spreading the word about their reports. If we want data products to work, then we need to promote them like real ones.

Use internal communication channels, such as newsletters, emails, or team meetings, to showcase new or underutilized reports. Create a "report spotlight" section, where you highlight the benefits and insights offered by specific reports.
Furthermore, collaboration and knowledge-sharing play a significant role in tackling this challenge. Encourage teams to share their experience and choose analytics champions to lead by example. When users see the value that reports bring to their colleagues, they'll be more eager to explore and make use of them.
Another smart move is to provide user training and onboarding sessions. Make sure that every team member knows where to find the reports they need and how to interpret the insights they offer.
Reclaiming Lost Reports
Now that we've uncovered the reasons behind the occurrence of orphaned and unused reports, it's time to take action and reclaim these lost treasures. After all, reports are not meant to be left on dusty shelves; they are valuable assets that can drive informed decision-making and boost business success.

1. BI Repository Clean-Up

Just like we declutter our homes, it's essential to declutter our reporting landscape. Start by conducting a thorough audit of existing reports. Identify the ones that are no longer relevant or have become obsolete. These reports can be archived or retired, freeing up space for more valuable insights.

2. Empower Analytics Champions

Remember the "analytics champions" we mentioned earlier? Now is the time to empower them further. Encourage these champions to actively promote and share success stories related to specific reports. Their enthusiasm and advocacy can inspire others to explore and utilize more analytics.

3. Promote Discoverability

Make it easy for users to discover reports by enhancing their visibility. Consider creating a centralized portal or dashboard where all reports are listed, categorized, and easily accessible. Implement search and filter functionalities to help users find the reports they need quickly.

4. Train and Educate

Invest in training and education for all users. Ensure that everyone knows how to access and interpret reports effectively. Offer workshops, webinars, or tutorials to enhance data literacy and encourage exploration of the reporting landscape.

5. Regular Reviews and Updates

Don't let reports become stagnant. Schedule regular reviews to assess the relevance and usage of reports. Update reports based on changing business needs and user feedback. Keeping reports fresh and up-to-date ensures that they continue to deliver valuable insights.

6. Foster a Data-Driven Culture

Above all, foster a data-driven culture within the organization. Encourage data exploration, evidence-based decision-making, and curiosity for insights. When data becomes an integral part of the company's DNA, reports will naturally become essential tools for success.

Technology Helps
There are certain solutions on the market for analytics management that can help identify and deal with unused reports.

Tools like Accton Auditor can perform a deep analysis of your BI repository, providing valuable insights into the state of your reports. It can reveal which reports are gathering dust, which users have lost access, and even identify potential bottlenecks in your reporting process.

Furthermore, solutions like Accton Insight Hub act as a portal for all your analytics, ensuring that no report is left behind. With a user-friendly interface, team members can easily discover and access the reports they need, promoting a data-driven culture across the organization.

By leveraging technology to identify, manage, and enhance the usage of reports, companies can revive their orphaned insights and make decisions with more confidence.

Reports are not mere documents; they are the key to unlocking valuable insights and driving data-driven decision-making. Orphaned and unused reports represent untapped potential that companies can reclaim by addressing issues related to visibility, shifting business needs, and user awareness.

By conducting a thorough BI repository clean-up, empowering analytics champions and promoting discoverability, companies can put forgotten reports to use and get rid of outdated ones.

It can be done easily with the right technology at hand.

Remember, all analytics assets require maintenance and attention to keep bringing value to your business.
JULY, 28 / 2023
Written by: Kseniia Armashula
Editor: Anna Ovchynnikova
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