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Operational reporting is reporting about operational details that reflects current activity. Operational reporting is intended to support the day-to-day activities of the organization. Data is very detailed and typically includes all details.  "Examples of operational reporting include end-of-day balancing reports, daily account audits and adjustments, daily production records, flight-by-flight traveler logs and transaction logs (Reference)

Analytics is: 
"the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data ..." (Wikipedia)  



​Financial Reporting is a formal record of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity.  Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand. They typically include basic financial statements, accompanied by a​ management discussion and analysis. Wikipedia​​

We talk to lots of people and invariably one of the first things we try and clarify is what their end goal is. Frequently clients will initially ask for a custom report but deeper questioning can change that answer. It's important for us to understand early not just the WHAT (data is needed) but the HOW (it will be consumed) because it drives the delivery tools we use. I know a great deal of people that are comfortable in Excel and, for them anyhow the end result of data manipulations in a workbook is a "custom report".  I am not saying we won't give you an Excel workbook, but if we do, we don't think of it as a report any more than we think of a screw being pounded in the wall as a nail.


What I think happens in most companies is that no one KNOWS exactly what is needed and so Excel is the starting point and after a long manual process a "report" is generated that makes everyone happy -- that day.  The report may in fact be in any of the below categories, but the HOW should drive the delivery mechanism because each one has distinct benefits.  The types of reporting solutions we look for are:

Do you REALLY want a Custom Report ?

DashBoard often provide at-a-glance views of KPIs (key performance indicators) relevant to a particular objective or business process. In the other, "dashboard" has another name for "progress report" or "report." (Wikipedia)

Typical Dashboard as displayed in PowerBI

Recommended delivery tool(s) for specific types of custom reporting