Common Reporting Challenges and the Galaxy Solutions to Consider
Updated: May 2, 2022 | Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn
The Gateway Team is consistently working with our customers to uncover potential gaps in their processes and operations and determine how Galaxy can fill those gaps: it could be a manual process that is already automated in Galaxy, it could be a wanted/needed growth opportunity that already has a module…
Or, based off many discussions we’ve had recently, it could be a lack of reporting and reporting efficiency. So we wanted to take some time to highlight the results of these important reporting conversations we’ve had. Our feeling is, your attraction may be encountering the same issues – issues that Galaxy can help mitigate.
Setting the Stage
We’ve spoken with Accounting and Finance teams that need reporting on revenue per category of business, and Marketing teams that need product performance so they can allocate advertising spend. We’ve seen Education teams that want a daily report containing information on groups, contacts, programs, and schedules, and Group Sales teams that need to know when orders come in, when they are paid for, and when the parties booking will arrive.
In many cases, these teams currently rely on preexisting reports in Galaxy, as well as a mix of customized in-house SQL reports written against the Galaxy database or a home-grown SQL reporting database.
Common Reporting Challenges
Galaxy reports were designed to be a very functional way to get the essential information your attraction needs to operate. And for many attractions, they are exactly what is needed. But they aren’t the most robust and versatile reporting option Galaxy users have. When run for a longer period of time the Galaxy reports can become slow because they are taxing the on-premise Galaxy database. Since they are part of the existing Galaxy application, they also require a Galaxy terminal to access, and they are not as readily consumed and manipulated outside of the application. Many customers are looking for reports that are quicker to run, more flexible in targeting data, able to be exported into standard formats like CSV, and are able to be run without a Galaxy license.
When attractions start rolling in custom SQL reports based on the Galaxy database or their own reporting database, the reporting function can become unwieldy. One-off reports take a long time to build and start to clutter the database when they’re no longer functional. They may be hard coded by a System Admin or an IT team, rendering them inflexible – new data points can’t be added, so a new report needs to be created each time. This can be further exacerbated by a lack of training, and a lack of clarity on business goals, KPIs and what the reports are actually trying to achieve.
First Thing’s First – Define Your KPIs
Before we address some of the solutions we’ve outlined with our customers, we want to address that last issue.
The reporting function at your attraction will never be as optimized or efficient as you need it to be without clearly defined measurables and metrics. All teams need to have a clear answer to this question: What exactly are you trying to measure, and why?
We recommend all teams come together to define the measurables and metrics they need before any reporting solution is developed. Without this, the ticketing system is likely to be over-configured or incorrectly configured, with a focus on immediate reporting needs at the expense of long-term flexibility and effectiveness. Ultimately, the measurables need to be defined by the attraction, not defined by what already exists in Galaxy. This will help the team developing your reports put the right labels in Galaxy – saving time and frustration and allowing a better opportunity to develop the right reports that pull in the right data.
Some Easy Wins With Galaxy Reports
Whether you run your own custom reports in SQL or the pre-existing Galaxy reports, there are steps you can take to address slowdowns and workplace efficiency.
For Galaxy reports, review your database indexes. The Galaxy database script contains options to add indexes to improve performance. A review of the database helps determine if the indexes exist, and how effective they are. If they are not present, you can test in an alternate environment to determine the impact of adding these.
For custom SQL reports, take stock of your reports. Just delete any reports you don’t use anymore. If you haven’t used them in six months, you probably don’t need them. There is no need to maintain a report that is not contributing to the day-to-day operation of your business. You can also add labels and categorizations to these reports for ease of navigation.
Implement Reporting Plus
Most of the challenges outlined here can be addressed by implementing Reporting Plus. Reporting Plus is built on Microsoft SQL Reporting Services, providing your attractions with a flexible way to meet your reporting needs. This powerful tool includes a denormalized subset of your primary Galaxy database and a base set of customizable reports. This denormalized database allows for back-end reporting to be faster while not impacting the load on the production Galaxy database-directly. The dataset is updated daily with partial updates at set intervals throughout the day. Reporting Plus includes a set of the most used reports based on customer feedback, accessed via the browser on any device – meaning you don’t need to be on a Galaxy node to get the reports. Reports can also be setup to auto-deliver via email to all stakeholders in the most common formats, including CSV. Suppose reporting needs arise that are not covered by one of the standard reports. In that case, your attraction can write the report in SQL or utilize Gateway’s resources to create the report for you.
Finally: Training, Training, Training
Finally, we often recommend additional training for Operations teams. An in-depth understanding of the Galaxy database and the preexisting reports will give your team confidence in creating a reporting function that is clear and effective. At times, we also recommend SQL training. Many teams have self-acquired SQL skills through use of the application, but it’s typically only the basic skills they need to satisfy the very immediate requests of reporting. To report out most effectively, it’s important to fully understand the Galaxy database and how to effectively retrieve information from it. As part of this training, use of the Reporting Plus database could also be included.
If you experience any of the common reporting challenges we’ve outlined in this article and feel like these solutions may work for your attraction, don’t hesitate to reach out to your contact at Gateway, or fill out this form, to kick off a conversation.