Best Practices for Building and Testing Custom Reports

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If you have a reporting need that would be best fulfilled by a Full-Service custom report, the following information will help you submit a Report Setup work request that provides the Faculty Success technical team everything it needs to know to set up the report properly, as well as guide you in testing and validating the report to ensure the report meets your needs and specifications.

Faculty Success has a variety of reporting offerings:

Custom Reports, then, can fill in the gaps. If you provide the right information to our experienced development team, we can create reports that provide additional consistency, complexity, and depth.

Submitting a Report Setup Work Request

In addition to a mockup or template you will provide with your request, please use the following prompts to help you prepare your Report Setup work request. A Microsoft Word template that you can populate and submit is attached to this article.

Basic Report Information

  • Report Name.
  • Report Purpose. What reporting need is being met?
  • Relation to Other Reports. Is this a modified copy of an existing report? Or a supplement to another report? (If applicable)
  • Output Format. Should this run in Word or Excel?
  • Deadlines and Milestones. By when you you need this report? (If this request is part of an active project such as a Faculty Success Implementation or Project, this will be dictated by your Project Plan.)

Report Scope

  • Report Audience. Who will be consuming the information in this report? Is it an internal or external audience?
  • Intended Date Range. Will you run this report over one semester? One academic year? One calendar year? Five years?
  • Units/Colleges Included. Will you run the report over the entire university? One college at a time? For a subset of departments?
  • Frequency. How often will you run the report?

Database Changes Needed

  • Does your system already capture the data you need for this report? If not, let us know what changes are needed.

Existing Template

  • Flexibility in Design/Formatting. May we take any creative liberties with the formatting and design elements of your template or mockup? Is this a strict template that's dictated by other campus stakeholders, or do you have any flexibility?

Additional Considerations

Following are elements of our standard approach to building custom reports. Let us know if you have concerns with any of the following.

  • Iterative Approach. In some cases, it's best to take a "first pass" at the report to get the major elements and sections in place, and then work out the smaller details in a second round of updates.
  • Standard Citations.
  • Suppressing Headers. If no data is found for a particular section, reports generally will not display the header for that section.

Testing and Validating Your Report

Once your report has been built, you'll want to verify that it's calculating, analyzing, and summarizing your data correctly.

If you're currently in the Launch phase of your implementation and building a faculty-facing report like an Annual Activity Report, this step should include some verification by your pilot testing group that their information is displaying correctly. Otherwise, a group of your institution's "power users" may want to give the report a try.

We've also prepared a series of test cases that might help you in the process of validating the report. While this is not an exhaustive list, it should provide some ideas to get you on the right track.

General Test Cases

  • Records that meet your criteria, and are within the date range, appear in your report.
  • Records that meet your criteria, but are not within the date range, do not appear in your report.
  • Records that do not meet your criteria, but are within the date range, do not appear in your report.

For Reports Run Over Multiple Users...

  • Verify that the report output is grouped as you've specified (by college, by department, etc.)
  • Verify that the intended users are bring included (if data exists for those users)

For Reports That Include Calculations...

  • Manually verify the calculations with sample data. For this testing, we recommend using only one or two users, rather than an entire college or department.

For Summary Reports...

  • This refers to reports that have a table with counts of activities, followed by citations for those activities. You will want to verify that the counts align with the number of citations below. We also recommend using only one or two users for this testing.

For Reports with Additional Options...

  • This refers to options that appear in the "Report Options" section when choosing the parameters for your report. If you're chosen to configure any additional report options, you may want to repeat the above test cases with different combinations of report options.
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