7 Reasons to Like Mobile Reports for SQL Server 2016

01-09-2017

Reports are great tools for the church world. They track giving, attendance, serving, and so much more. But reports are only useful if the information can be viewed in a way that makes sense. If you’ve ever generated a report using SQL Server, you know that you can make them look pretty by creating a paginated document. For formats like Word and PDF, these work great. But in our increasingly mobile-dependent society, we need reports to look good on a variety of screen sizes.

So, when Microsoft announced at the end of 2015 that they were going to incorporate the technology they purchased from Datazen into their reporting services, we were pretty excited. Reports can now be made that look great on any size screen and on any mobile device.

Is it worth the cost, though? MobileReports only work with SSRS for SQL Server 2016 Enterprise, and Enterprise is a big expense. In the last year, some of our churches have begun rolling out dashboards using this new technology. ThinkMinistry is using it to improve implementation and support of MinistryPlatform. We’re also making changes to MinistryPlatform that will better accommodate these new reports.

If you’re unsure if it’s a good fit for your church, here are 7 reasons why we really like MobileReports, and you should, too.

1. They’re pretty!

Sure, looks aren’t everything, but when you need data to be clear and inviting, you need it to look good. Though report authors are rarely designers first, Datazen did a phenomenal job developing this technology in a way that makes our data look pretty. After all, reports are useless if no one ever sees them.

 

2. They pull you in deeper

With the introductions of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), a user can now begin with one simple metric and drill down into a more involved dashboard. Thumbnails for each report provide a quick visual reminder of past experiences with the data.

 

3. They work well with ALL devices

With the use of the Microsoft Power BI, you can connect to your reporting server and, after authenticating, see your KPIs and MobileReports. Power BI is available for desktops and mobile devices, and can be found in the app stores for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

 

4. They’re interactive

Your reports won’t just sit there! Every element can be expanded to be studied in greater detail. Various selectors allow a user to filter the data they see, and some elements even have mouse-over behaviors.

 

5. You don’t need to know SQL

Though it will make things easier, knowing SQL is not required to make a MobileReport. Excel can also be used as a data source. Depending on your DataSource connection type, a table selector is available that builds simple queries.

 

6. SSRS is already part of the system

Other data visualization applications exist, such as Tableau, but that would make one more piece of software to buy and manage. Even though it does require Enterprise Edition of SQL, it’s all built in. And, for charities, Enterprise is relatively cheap.

 

7. Creating a MobileReport is faster than a Paginated Report

The old SSRS reports are now called Paginated Reports since they’re not responsive to screen sizes, but act more like a flat page. Making one of these old reports might have made things prettier, but they took a lot of time. Once it was done, it only looked good at a certain aspect ratio and resolution. MobileReports look good at any resolution or screen size, and making a report optimized for mobile takes a small added effort. This article from Microsoft  shows just how fast and simple it is to create a MobileReport.

But that’s not all! We haven’t even discussed yet how these reports can now be embedded into web sites. This ability opens a realm of possibility we haven’t explored yet at ThinkMinistry, but we know some churches out there will want to use this feature. Just think of all the ways your data could be presented to your congregation!

If you want to have more visually exciting and interactive reporting for your ministry team, this tool is highly recommended by ThinkMinistry.

Just a few things to keep in mind:

  • It does require the Enterprise Edition of SQL Server 2016. Most churches use the Standard Edition since it has a lower licensing cost.
  • It is not yet available for MinistryPlatform Shared Cloud Edition.
  • The Professional Services team at ThinkMinistry can help! We can get you started learning how to author your own dashboards and scorecards with a few samples, or you can lean on us to make it all happen for you.