Skip to main content Skip to footer

The benefits (and pitfalls) of rapid reporting tools delivery

Rapid delivery is always a part of any business project, but tools that make accelerated deployment possible may actually be hampering their quality. While there's certainly something to be said for applications built and deployed virtually overnight, it's important to balance speed with quality. This is especially true as a new class of end users enter the field of data analysis. Ad hoc reporting tools allow regular business professionals untrained in data science to intelligently query data and produce information insights, but they have to be integrated effectively.

An initial deployment that comes up short can alienate users and make it tougher to get them to accept further revisions. Left unchecked or unfixed, a lackluster application can end up being used widely, with relatively unproductive results. Instead, software developers can focus on baking real-time features into their apps and not force the app itself into real-time implementation.

Real time is one of the pillars of the digital ecosystem. Efficiency and speed have always been features driving technological investment and implementation. Today, even simple acceleration is fading, as people expect virtually everything to happen instantaneously. This attitude extends to the programs and applications they use. Additionally, data virtually demands close to real-time analysis, especially if the organization is leveraging insights for predictive or prescriptive analysis. Developer evangelist Phil Leggetter recently wrote about the explosive rise of real time as a digital manifesto in recent years.

"We're seeing increased understanding of the benefits of real-time Web tech so it's not surprising that the number of apps using the technology is rapidly increasing," Leggetter wrote. "Real time is going to be everywhere; from web and mobile apps to IoT consumer products. There are some interesting challenges to be undertaken when it comes to the UX of some of these apps and products, and to the Internet infrastructure which will be put under increasing load – an opportunity for solution providers to start thinking about adding features to help and cope with this."

Now hold on a minute
It would seem, in the face of the insatiable desire for real-time everything, that the only thing holding up real-time ad hoc reporting tools is the development of the applications themselves. It's true that it can't really happen overnight, even if employees and management eagerly await the new program. In many cases, these two factions can try to force a software developer's hand. It can put programmers in a tough place. On one hand, they may have to continually justify why something isn't ready, which can hamper productivity. On the other hand, implementing a reporting tool without proper evaluation and testing phases can have more long-term damage.

SD Times contributor Wayne Ariola recently suggested that many businesses have difficulty adhering to a rollback strategy that makes sense. While it can certainly be instructive to have some users participate as "guinea pigs" for a new application, both management and developers need to go into this process on the same page. If management touts the initial deployment as the real thing, while developers know it's still a work in progress, it can confuse users and pit the two sides in conflict. This is going to slow productivity. Quality may be harder than ever to achieve, but it's still just as vital to success. Ultimately, a continuous delivery strategy with real-time fixes can work, as long as all parties involved continue to communicate and understand that they're part of a process.

"Now that software has morphed from a business process enabler into a competitive differentiator, business expectations about the speed and reliability of software releases have changed dramatically," Ariola wrote. "With a perfect storm of all-time-low switching costs, downward price pressure, and relentless media coverage of application failures, software quality matters more than ever."


comments powered by Disqus