In our surveys, Bluewater consistently finds that the number one struggle our clients have with their learning and talent management system is reporting.

Reports are the tool that HR and Learning Development teams use to provide critical training and learning results to managers and stakeholders.  Without reports, there’s no point in having a system, but all reports are not created equal.  Poorly designed or implemented reports are almost as bad as having no reports at all.

Fortunately, your SumTotal platform has the ability to create great reports.  In fact, there are two different types of reporting in SumTotal and both are powerful in their own way.

The key is to know when and how to use each of them.

To help you get started creating the reports you need, let’s dissect the SumTotal reporting options; Ad Hoc reports vs advanced reporting using Jaspersoft Studio. Looking at the qualities, benefits, and limitations of each can help you make the best choice for your organizations reporting needs.

Ad Hoc Reports

The Ad Hoc reporting tool is the native reporting tool built into your SumTotal platform. You can quickly create simple reports that require less technical knowledge or know-how for the non-technical user.

With Ad Hoc reports, multiple reports can be built off a common reporting domain and filters can be added or removed easily.

The Ad Hoc reporting tool is generally not suitable for complex reports and contains limited formatting options of colors, fonts, graphics, and charts. Features like sub reports/drill down reports and cascading filter are not supported so in order to see relevant values between filters, you have to format manually.

In terms of the technical skills needed for Ad Hoc reports, proficiency in SQL is optional but needed for more complex reports. Solid knowledge of the SumTotal Data Model and Logic is strongly recommended to get the best results.

Jaspersoft Studio

Jaspersoft Studio is an advanced reporting option that allows you to create complex, fully customizable reports for your SumTotal platform.

It provides expanded formatting options that include unlimited colors, custom fonts and a wide selection of graphs and charts. You can also create custom headers, trailers etc., and there’s support for images, HTML, and SumTotal deep links.

With Jaspersoft Studio you are the artist and the brush is there for you to create virtually any report you can imagine.

You have full control over report data query and support for subreports/drill down and cascading filters. But unlike Ad Hoc reports where it is optional, SQL proficiency is absolutely required for Jaspersoft Studio. In addition, the reporting artist needs a solid understanding of the SumTotal Data Model and Logic.

Jaspersoft Studio is not included with your SumTotal LMS but it is easily available online as a free download. And while Ad Hoc reports require no additional hardware, to use Jaspersoft Studio you will need an SQL Server Report Development Database.

If you’re still not sure which option is right for you, these are three common reporting needs our clients have that can only be done in Jaspersoft Studio.

Drill Down Reports

Drill down reports give you the ability to click on a data item within a report to launch a supplemental report with additional detail. With Ad Hoc reports you must launch a separate report to get additional details.

Cascading Filters

Cascading filters allow you to look at data under multiple filters based on values in a hierarchy like completion activity, location, etc. With cascading filters, each subsequent filter is filtered by the filter above.

Custom Colors & Logos

In Jaspersoft Studio you can create custom colors of any RGB value to get more professional looking reports. If you need to create internal or external reports and want your company logo present, then you need Jaspersoft Studio.

SumTotal Advanced Reporting Feature Comparison Table

When it comes down to it, the Ad Hoc tool is built for very simple reports and relatively stable reporting needs. If you have 4 or 5 simple reports to pull and they never change, it can be great for you.

Alternatively, if you have complex reporting needs now, or might in the future, Jaspersoft Studio gives you unlimited reporting capabilities–at the cost of a slightly larger initial learning curve.

Ultimately, Jaspersoft Studio will work for you no matter how your reporting needs change, so the learning curve may be well worth it as your organization changes and grows.

No matter which option you choose, the key is to have a deep knowledge of both your data and SumTotal data models and logic in order to get the reports you want.

For great reports, you have to use the right reporting tool. Based on our experience, Jaspersoft Studio is usually the best choice, but you need to know what you are doing to get the results you want.

Need a little help to get started with Jaspersoft Studio?  Contact us and let Bluewater show you how we can get you on the track to reporting success!