One of the most common errors in developing Crystal Report in Sage SalesLogix is the failure to plan. A lot of times we just jump in without any fore thought and then spend a lot of time back tracking and making the report work after the fact.
I suggest the creation of a internal scope or blueprint document. Most consulting firms use scope documents to define projects, Why not use this practice internally? A scope document like I suggest is created by you for your end user. The document allows you and the end user a place to layout your ideas and agree upon them before you start on the report.
The bullet points below are from a document I developed for the Crystal Report Writing for SalesLogix class taking place at the end of this month. If you are familiar with the Business Object Crystal Reports – Report Creation Wizard, you will notice that this layout is set up so you can get a great start on your report.
Purpose – What is the Purpose of the Report? This might seem like a no brainer but this is really important to know and agree upon. This keeps you and your End User on the same page throughout the development of the report.
Report Name: – This is important for obvious reasons. There is three things come to mind when I think of a report name. The file name, the Report Header Label, and then name that appears in the SalesLogix Reports List.
Family – Does this report belong in the family of Account, Contact, Opportunity, History, Activity, Ticket, Contract, Personal. This is required for adding the report into SalesLogix. This is agreed upon by both so you know where to put the report and the end user will know how to find it. This is also a good time to think about Condition Filter fields for User and Date.
Fields – What are the fields that are important for this report. Start by using the interface names of the fields for the end user but be sure to look into the database and find the actual database name of the fields. You would be surprised how often a field is used for something it was not intended for especially in older systems that have been internally managed for years.
Tables – While you search for the field names keep a good list of the tables the fields are located in. Having a list of the exact tables you need really speeds up the process of creating a report.
Table Linking – How do the tables you have chosen above relate to one another? After you select the tables the next step is Linking. You need to know how to set up the links between tables before you can go any further in your Report Development. Then think about the Join Type (Inner, Left Outer, or Right Outer).
Layout – This is probably the most important one for the End User. They are your customers, if they do not like the layout, your development work will go on and on. Drawing out the layout in pencil will go a long way to making sure you are on track with your end users idea and set proper expectations of what the report will look like when it is done.
Grouping – How is your data organized? by Createdate? By first or last Name? By User? Or maybe all of these. Then you have to think about the order of the groups. Other things to think about, Does the group need to display or can you suppress it from view. If it is displaying then what fields do want visible supporting your grouping.
Summaries – Most Reports provide some type of roll ups. Whether it be counts, averages, or sums you need to really think and plan out summaries prior to building your report. The Crystal Report Writing Wizard can really make this easy for you if you are well prepared.
Record Selection Criteria – What data do you want to see? An example here is the History table, In SalesLogix, this table is filled with a lot of change to database records. Do you want to see those records in your report? If not what is the criteria you are going to use to eliminate those records from your report?
I hope you see my point, that a lot of planning with your end user goes along way. Taking the time to plan out the report to the smallest detail possible prior to sitting down and opening up Crystal will allow you to use the Crystal Report Creation Wizard to it’s maximum efficiency leaving you with nothing to do but formulas and formating.
If you want to learn more about Developing Crystal Reports consider taking the Crystal Report Writing for SalesLogix class, registration is going on now.
I hope this post helps some one plan an upcoming report.