How to better organize reporting to make data more findable (Best Practices for Reporting Portals 3 of 9)

After adding meta­data to reports, orga­niz­ing indi­vid­ual reports into fold­ers will help users get to the right reports quickly.

For a small report set (10 – 15 reports), the eas­i­est thing is to put the files at the top level (not in a folder) and use the meta­data (title, descrip­tion, update) to guide the user to the right infor­ma­tion. As your col­lec­tion grows, develop a sys­tem that min­i­mizes clicks to files and puts related files into the same folder.

Here’s a view before adding meta­data and stan­dard­iz­ing file names:

Reports — Before: with­out nam­ing, meta­data, or fold­ers — dif­fi­cult to find what users need

Here are some ideas on how to store files to make them eas­ily found, nav­i­gated, and used:

  • Iden­tify the most used reports with the widest geo­graphic scope and put them on the top level
    This can be done via site sta­tis­tics to deter­mine which reports are most down­loaded or sim­ply select­ing the reports which are used on a reg­u­lar basis. Aim for 5 reports at most.
  • Name fold­ers con­sis­tently and with names that iden­tify what’s inside them
    Keep folder names short and sim­ple. Make it easy for users to iden­tify what’s inside them. Make it eas­ier for the user to find their files with­outh scrolling (lots of fold­ers at top level) and pr lots of clicks (many nested fold­ers). For exam­ple, if you have state or city level data, you may want to store them in regions, espe­cially if each region has mul­ti­ple spe­cial­ized reports. (for exam­ple, a Sales Report and a Cam­paign Report.
  • Add an Archive folder
    The Archive folder should mir­ror the struc­ture of the main folder, but have prior ver­sions of the reports. This way if some­one needs his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion, all the old reports will be acces­si­ble, but not crowd out the new reports.

Here’s an After view with improved report nam­ing, meta­data, and fold­ers implements:

Report­ing — After: with improved file nam­ing, meta­data, and folders

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