Right Sizing Reports in TeamQuest Surveyor
TeamQuest Surveyor is an automated capacity management tool designed to optimize business and IT service capacity and provide management-level visibility into business & IT service performance. As such, it saves time and boosts IT productivity by enabling you to automate and embed staff expertise. Additionally, it helps reduce the frequency and severity of bottlenecks by proactively analyzing and reporting across all relevant technology elements.
Those who use it can be looked upon both as data scientists as well as trivia masters. For example, a trivia master might be asked questions such as:
- What is the world's tallest building?
- How tall is it exactly?
- Where is it?
- When was it the tallest?
- 4 years ago what was the world's tallest building?
When you think about it, these are similar questions to what is asked of a capacity planner on a daily basis:
- What is the peak CPU spike?
- How much CPU does it consume?
- Where is it (i.e., server, datacenter, frame)?)
- When was the peak?
- 4 years ago what was the peak CPU?
TeamQuest Surveyor makes it easy to present this data to a wide audience in an easy to assimilate manner. The software automates the data gathering and reporting process, enabling IT to spend its time addressing issues rather than finding them.
Over the years, IT staff has gotten used to scanning through reports that go on for many pages. It's commonplace, for example, to see a report that lists thousands of servers and their individual characteristics. However, this is a lazy way to make a point. In fact, it may actually prevent people from using the report due to data overload.
One way to get around this is to stick to the very large report format but provide some hyperlinks that let you skip down to different sections of the page, or drill down into the data. Some users prefer this approach, but it is far from ideal. The objection by users to this report is that they still have to figure out where to go to and that they may well miss important points.
Another method offers up multiple, digestible reports that can be launched as needed. This creates an easily readable report while making complete data only a click or two away. By focusing on fewer facts, the viewer isn't confused or put off by too much information. These reports are flexible and fast to generate. Storage costs can also be lowered as these reports are kept compact. IT staff learns to drill down to what they need when they need it.
A common error in reporting is to always stick to one method of reporting. The fact is that certain types of data are better presented in one format than another. And it's also worth noting that certain people prefer some formats to others and may not use them unless they're received in their preferred format.
Reports, then, can be formatted and displayed as tables, charts or HTML documents, for example. Surveyor can deliver ad hoc and scheduled reports in many different ways. A report can even be generated while on the phone to instantly answer important questions ad hoc.
Some people like dashboards with drill down capabilities. Surveyor also makes it possible to provide reports using in-context clicking. This method preserves the inputs (server, interval, etc.) while making it simple to launch related ad hoc reports.
A thorough fact-filled report may be shunned in the enterprise while an incomplete but well- designed report is pored over endlessly by staff. Why? It's a fact of life that people shun the unattractive and gravitate towards the attractive.
Therefore, your value is more than just generating good data. Whether you like it or not, the aesthetics of the report are your responsibility, too. TeamQuest Surveyor provides graphical tools and options to help.
Dashboards, for instance, should be color coded with care. Obviously, traditional red, yellow and green should be preserved, but there are still plenty of other colors to be included for different functions. Symbols and names should be chosen carefully. If a report uses hokey symbols that look amateur, your report may be undervalued by its audience.
Sparkline charts are another trick in making reports more visually appealing. These mini charts are an excellent method of adding clarity to a bunch of confusing numbers. In fact, a chart in the right place can occasionally be the only way people will be able to understand certain facts.
Hyperlinks in a report are yet another way to simplify reports. People can click on the link to see a specific server or group of servers, for example. But don't overdo the hyperlinks. If the whole report is covered in hyperlinks, you lessen their value greatly.
Surveyor is a great tool for designing flexible, dynamic, interactive, proactive performance and capacity reports. Those designing reports, however, are challenged with creating reports that will be read, understood and used by those using them. It is recommended that these reports be kept short and that time be spent in formatting them in as attractive a manner as possible. Spend some time with the user community. It's better to provide them with reports they want than try to force the data upon them in a format they dislike or are unfamiliar with. Fortunately, TeamQuest Surveyor provides all the tools you'll need to make interesting reports that make IT's job much easier.