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Crystal Reports: Time Bands

Use a formula to create time bands for your Crystal Report.

One of the students on our course was working with call centre data. They wanted to summarize the data into 15 minute intervals. You can do this with the following formula:

Minute({timefield}) Remainder (Minute({timefield}),15)

This will return values of 0, 15, 30 and 45. If you require other intervals, replace the 15 in the above formula. Combine this with additional formulas to extract the date and the hour of the call, and useful performance statistics can be created.

So, what should you do with these statistics? You most assuredly should not jam them into a report. You need to ensure your reports contain business information, not business data. They need to be decision tools, not intermediary data sources.

With these time bands, you are able to create trending of all sorts. Maybe an executive needs to know in which band of time:

  • Call volumes peak.

  • Calls take the longest.

  • Calls are the shortest.

  • Calls are elevated to the next level.

  • Calls are greatest for Issue X.

  • Calls are least for Issue Y.

Or maybe some other information that will help the executive make staffing and resource allocation decisions. It's these kinds of decisions that actually justify the Crystal Reports system, and probably your job, to begin with.

Instead of starting with the database, start with the business questions. Talk with the senior executives (who may or may not be on your existing distribution list), and ask each one to tell you what the top three business questions are. If they give you more, that's OK. Compile a list, and see what data you would need for you to answer those questions with your reports.

Next, repeat this process with the people who are already on your distribution list. You are now ready to determine what will be reported.

Why talk with the senior executives, first? Those are the folks who run your company, so figure out what they want. Providing that helps secure your job and future raises in no small way. But it also helps you build the correct framework for your entire process, so that all users are marching to the same tune. You have to start at the beginning, not in the middle. By definition, middle managers can't see the big picture.

This raises another point. Surveys conducted between 2005 and 2008 showed that senior executives rarely have an accurate picture of their organization or the conditions under which it operates. They have a much rosier view, because people generally try to please them.

These same people lack the time to dig through the data to see the real picture. In most companies, senior executives also lack the skills to do so. This means the data-oriented reports they get are essentially useless. If you are in charge of those reports, what does this say about your value to the company?

If you provide the senior executives with the business information they need, and you provide middle managers with the business information they need plus the business information the senior executives are working from, how do you think this will affect the effectiveness of management to make good decisions?

Instead of working from the detail level up, work from the information level down. Determine what information people really need. Then, use the power of Crystal Reports to assemble that information from the data you can get.

 

This article is copyrighted by Crystalkeen, Mindconnection, and Chelsea Technologies Ltd. It may be freely copied and distributed as long as the original copyright is displayed and no modifications are made to this material. Extracts are permitted. The names Crystal Reports and Seagate Info are trademarks owned by Business Objects.

 

  • Questions? Please write to mark@crystalkeen.com. We do want your business.
  • Do you have your own tips for Crystal Reports administrators and designers? Write to mark@crystalkeen.com and we'll post your tips with a link to your Website (or with some other attribution if you choose).
  • Crystal Reports is a subsidiary of Business Objects, which is owned by SAP.