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Report Quality Factors

July 30, 2012

The quality of a report goes beyond just the fact that the report has the correct data shown and the appearance is appealing.   The quality of a report affects how and even if the report is used.   There are several factors that define a report with quality:

  • Correctness – Extent to which the report satisfies the specifications and fulfills the user’s needs.   This includes traceability, consistency, and completeness.   Are all necessary details included?   Are unnecessary details omitted?  Are numeric values presented in the proper precision?
  • Usability – Ability to interpret the information on the report.   Is the report self-explanatory or will training be required to understand it.   Are the results needed easily interpreted.
  • Maintainability – Ability to update the report with minimal effort.   Consistency, simplicity, conciseness, and modularity all contribute to this factor.  What happens when a data source changes?
  • Flexibililty – Ability to reuse a report for different requirements.  Is the design general and expandable.

At a more detailed level and particularly for data fields, parameters, and calculated fields, the following checklist can be used to improve the quality:

  • Proper types
  • Initial values
  • Handling of nulls
  • Computations use correct types
  • Handling of overflow, underflow, or division by zero
  • Rounding and truncation
  • Out of range values
  • Order of precedence
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