MS Access for the Business Environment: Reporting in MS Access: Grouped Transactional Report Part II

About the Series …

This article continues the series,
MS Access for the Business Environment. The primary focus of
this series is an examination of business uses for the MS Access relational
database management system. The series is designed to provide guidance in the
practical application of data and database concepts to meet specific needs in
the business world. While the majority of the procedures I demonstrate will be
undertaken with MS Access 2002, many of the concepts that we expose in
the series will apply to other versions of MS Access.

For more information on the
series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the
tutorials we will undertake, please see Tutorial
1: Create a Calculated Field with the
Expression Builder
.

Introduction
to this Tutorial

This is the second half of a
two-part tutorial that explores the creation of a basic transactional report
that groups the information it presents at multiple levels, at most of which a
corresponding total will be displayed
. This article continues with the
preparation we performed in Reporting
in MS Access: Grouped Transactional Report Pt.I
, where we
established our data source as a query we constructed in the Northwind sample
database.

In Part I,
we discussed the requirements that the report will need to address, then listed
the general steps involved in professional report design and creation. We then
began to design and create our illustrative report in a hands-on manner,
following many key steps that are common in a successful report writing project
within a collaborative business environment. Within each step, we discussed
the details involved and the results that we sought to obtain within our
design.

The report that we began to
create in our lesson focuses on orders placed by the customers of Northwind.
It’s objective is to present summary information about orders placed by
customers over year-to-date and other time intervals – intervals that can be
controlled by a given information consumer at report run time. We discussed
some of the specific business needs that the report will need to address.

In this article, we will pick up
where we left off with the common steps for successful reporting efforts,
focusing initially on "pre-setting" the sorting and grouping of data
in the report. We will then select data, from the data source we created
in Part I, for inclusion in our report. After entraining the data, we
will focus upon the arrangement of labels and text in the report, the
establishment of settings based upon grouping, and the handling of other
attributes specified by the intended audience. Finally, we will briefly
discuss the review and refinement of the report based upon feedback that we
receive from information consumers, who ideally review the report at various
evolutionary stages.

NOTE: To perform
the steps of this lesson from the starting point that follows, you will need to
have completed the steps we undertake in our last lesson, Reporting
in MS Access: Grouped Transactional Report Pt.I
.

A Review of the Common Steps for Successful Reporting

In Part I, we discussed
that, as diverse as they may be in scope and purpose, and as different as the
industries and sizes of the organizations for whom we are consulting to
complete them, the majority of reporting projects are composed of several
common steps that bring about a successful conclusion. Those steps, again,
include:

  • Gather the business requirements.

  • Design the report.

  • Locate and access the data.

  • Create the new report.

  • Establish report characteristics.

  • Set up sorting and grouping of data in the report.

  • Select data and include it in the report.

  • Arrange labels and text in the report.

  • Establish display and other settings based upon grouping and
    other attributes.

  • Review and refine the report based upon the input of its intended
    audience.

Due to the differences in each unique reporting project, the
order of the above steps may differ. In addition, there may be
different iterations of many of the steps, as the feedback we receive from the
intended audience, procured throughout the report development cycle, as opposed
to at the end only, will often drive stepping back through formerly completed
steps to make the adjustments required to meet more refined requirements. The
sooner we can identify these modifications, which often come to light only
after the information consumers are shown our evolving designs, and after they
get a feel for potential capabilities they may not have expected in the initial
requirements gathering discussions, the less rework we are compelled to
perform. Again, the key is recurring communication and synchronization of our
efforts with the needs of the intended audience.

We will rejoin the report design we began in Part I at the "Set up sorting and
grouping of data in the report" step in our procedures above.

William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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