Locked up tight in every single report generated by everything from your desktop accounting package to your enterprise level information system is a vast data warehouse that’s waiting for you to unlock its secrets. Monarch offers you the unique opportunity to almost magically see what isn’t there. Just like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, that’s your advantage over the regular report reader in your group.
Let’s look at seven easy to implement ways that let you stop working so hard to generate important information, and let your data work for you.
1) Build only the templates required, and use the right template for the right purpose. Just because your report has a clear page header, you might not need to develop a page header template. Get to know the different template types that Monarch offers, as well as how to build template traps.
2) Do not paint only the fields required right now. It’s easier to build all of the fields that the report offers now, and then hide any fields that really aren’t necessary in the current model from view. You can always save other copies of the current model with different fields displayed for different purposes. Besides, you might dream up a use for that “unneeded” field when you build your summaries (we’ll get to those). Alternatively, you can import the templates themselves into new models, which may well be more efficient.
3) Use the Advanced field properties to do some of the work for you. It can be tricky to get Monarch to capture some data properly, depending upon how the layout of the report was designed. Let Monarch do the heavy lifting for you, but you’ll need to understand the Advanced field properties dialog.
4) Enhance the data that you’ve captured. Use the data table features to add new relevant data by way of calculated fields, external lookups and the Address Block feature as applicable, or remove unwanted data from the selection by using filters. Sometimes this is best approach when you can’t avoid bringing in certain report data regardless of how you build your templates. Learn more about calculated fields, filters, external lookup and the Address Block features to be ready for your modeling challenges.
5) Make good use of the available functions. There are countless uses for the built-in functions in Monarch: converting data types, extracting bits and pieces of data from larger values, and generating date and time information are just a few. When using calculated fields, use Monarch’s internal functions or your own custom functions to your best advantage.
6) Don’t skimp on the summaries! Build many summaries in each model to make the most of Monarch’s analytical abilities. Summaries are the Monarch modeler’s best tool for analysis work. Summaries are the reason that you’ve done everything else. Don’t admire your pretty, organized data table and stop there. Use Key fields to build exactly the presentation that you want to gain new insights from your static report data. Let’s think about the Classical Music Distributor sample reports that are included when Monarch is installed. There’s a separate file for each month. Within each file, activity for each customer is reported on a different page. Orders are broken down by media type. What could we do with a summary to generate information that isn’t immediately apparent in the reports? If we’re based in the USA, we could generate different summaries for each of domestic and international shipments by media type. We could list the 10 customers to whom we shipped the most media in the period of January through April 2008. We could even break that down by period. We could add summaries isolating our best, and worst customers, based on revenues earned. We could even easily calculate the average revenue per unit shipped by customer. There are countless ways that you can gain new insight from practically any report. Get to know the tools available when building summaries.
7) Share your findings using project exports. Build project exports to easily repeat the potentially detailed process of sharing all of data, or selected data, with others in your group. You can make it easy to send the same customized information package to others in your group on a regular basis: daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Publish it on the most appropriate schedule for the information at hand. All that you will need to do will be to open your Monarch project and run all of your defined exports at the click of a single button. What could be easier? You can share the report window as PDF files or text files, and the table window and summaries can be exported as Access, PDF, or Excel (even with built-in pivot tables in the case of table data), or other formats. You can even publish directly to SharePoint sites. The flexibility offered for file creation is staggering: you can apply filters, export selected summaries or all summaries, you can create new files for each summary or create separate tables within a single document. When you do it well, it won’t take long for those who receive your customized information packages to acknowledge you as the definitive “go-to” resource who can singlehandedly produce top-notch information quickly and routinely. That’s the personal side of “let your data work for you” that is perhaps Monarch’s most important intangible benefit.
With a tool that’s as flexible as Monarch is, there are bound to be aspects of program that some of us employ on a regular basis that I haven’t mentioned above. What’s your favorite Monarch feature that you use when you want to make your data stand out?
Spend some extra time working on your models and projects and it will be clear and important to your group that you excel with Monarch.