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Distribution Software - Custom Reporting
Getting the most out of a distribution software system depends on a company using it to its all of its features and them generating the types of reports that are most useful to the organization where it is in use. There is enormous reporting variation in available software from low-end systems that provide just a few basic reporting functions to high-end systems that offer reports on virtually every function a business performs. In either case, however, be aware of all the custom reporting features the company purchases and try to use them as much as possible to produce useful information.

Larger companies are more likely to have a software programmer on staff who can create custom reports to fit each individual departments ned. Smaller companies do not always have the same luxury and are therefore much less likely to be taking full advantage of the types of reports that can be created, but are not specifically available within, a particular software package that the company has purchased.

Each type of custom reporting has a variety of applications. For example, high-level analysis is the most widely used type of custom application reporting. It encompasses sales and marketing analyses, overall manufacturing utilization, inventory levels and fill rates, and other similar functions. These types of reports can be configured to run weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or annually. They generally consist of summarized overviews, but without substantial detail provided.

Lower-level management reports are those that give overviews designed to help with daily operational issues. These reports can include production reports structured by shift or department, detailed inventory reports, work order and purchase order summaries and other similar information.

Exception reporting is used to analyze processes and identify errors. It is particularly useful in situations where high numbers of transactions are occurring. They can be used for inventory transactions, production transactions, sales transactions, and daily product management. Exception reports can be designed to list transactions by selecting combinations of data that are common in a given type of error.

Functional reporting is yet another type of custom reporting that can be configured from many of the current software packages available. While often disregarded and underused, it can be structured to identify deficiencies in the functionality of information systems. It can be used to facilitate batch picking or wave picking, as the counting document in a cycle count program, as the production schedule on the shop floor, or in myriad other ways.

While it takes computer proficiency to create custom reports, they are generally well within the skill range of someone within the company and do not necessarily require the skills of a professional programmer. At the same time, learning to use custom reporting tools can require the assistance of someone who is experienced with them and is capable of beginning to make small changes and experimenting with the different results. There is some skill involved in learning to find the file locations, file names and field names that define a particular report. Although custom reports are not considered software modifications, it may be necessary to reconfigure them whenever software is upgraded.

The value of custom reporting is directly tied to the needs and ingenuity of those who are structuring the reporting. The reports can be quite specific, or a broad overview, depending on company needs. However, a certain amount of customization capability is inherent within nearly any software package. With a bit of know how and the desire to make systems work more efficiently, custom reports can be created to fit most departments needs.

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