Empower the Users through Self Service Reporting

In 2007 or so, I worked a job for the County.  We supported many agencies.  In doing so, we wrote and maintained the applications and data.

I was assigned a new project to help out with reports.  During our first meeting, the client mentioned their data was silo'd behind our walls and they never had access to their own data, except for what they downloaded off the internal application.

The conference room had a computer, so during the meeting I logged on, opened Microsoft Access, connected to the development instance of their data stored in Oracle, and proceed to download their entire database in about a minute.

Opened a copy of Crystal Reports, pointed to the Access database, used the Wizard to create a quick report.  Within a minute, we had a report displayed on  the screen from the projector.

The Agency could see how easy it was to view the data and build a report.  They couldn't believe it.  And asked us for access to the database and how they could purchase 5 licenses of Crystal Reports.  And some of my time to get them up to speed on the reporting tool.

It was great to be the one to open their eyes and see their reaction.  A hidden world opened up in just a few minutes.  Empowerment.  Self service.  No longer dependent on IT.

Fast forward to today, just about every organization is aware of the benefits of accessing their data.  Back then, being a one eyed person in the land of the blind made a huge impact.