In this final post of this SOAR series, I conclude with reporting as the final high value-add skill needed for mastering the virtual environment. Reporting is all about supplying the intended audience with what they need to make an informed decision.
Reporting: The decision-maker’s ammo
Reporting molds data and logged events into a summary that highlights key facts to help the end-user make a quick, yet sound, decision. Reporting is neither glamorous nor adrenaline-pumping, like the experience you get while developing and honing the other skills, but it is the one skill that will help you get on the promotion fast track.
Reporting is better than slideware
IT reporting at its best is pure art backed by pure science and logic. It is storytelling with charts, figures, and infographics. The intended audience should be able to grasp key information quickly. In other words, keep it stupid simple. Those of you following this SOAR series and my 2016 IT resolutions know that I’ve been beating the “keep it stupid simple” theme pretty hard. This is because continuous decision-making across complex systems can lead to second-guessing by many IT chefs in the IT kitchen, and we don’t want that. Successful reporting takes the guesswork out of the equation by framing the problem and potential solution in a simple, easily consumable way.
The most important aspect of reporting is knowing your target audience and creating the report just for them. Next, define the decision that needs to be made. Make the report pivot on that focal point because a decision will be made based on your report. Finally, construct the reporting process in a way that will be consistent and repeatable.
Reporting is a necessary skill for IT professionals. It helps them provide decision-makers with evidence leveraged in the decision-making process. Reporting should be built upon the other DART and SOAR skills so that reports become a valuable asset instead of merely a check mark on someone’s to-do list. Reporting can empower IT pros to new career paths and to new IT frontiers.