While attending a users group meeting yesterday, I asked how many people in the room were using the baseline reports provided by the vendor. (Mind you, this is a system with literally hundreds of baseline reports.) Out of 40 attendees, three raised their hands. Fewer than 10% of the vendor's customers were using the baseline reports. Why? I have three theories:

  1. The reports are never complete. That is, the baseline reports tend to show very simple information, and staff tends to want more information than what is being displayed. So the baseline reports are a good start, but they're not useful standalone.
  2. The reports don't look like our reports. The baseline reports are, by definition, generic. And even though we can easily add our association's logo to the reports, they still don't look like the reports we've been using for years. And so, even if the report has essentially the same information as my old report, I want it to look like my old report.
  3. I don't trust the vendor's reports. If I have the reports built for me, or if I build them myself, I know what data the report is pulling. But I'm never really sure what the report is pulling in a baseline report.

Are any of these theories fairor reasonable? Probably not. But they are reality. And the message you can take is that regardless of how many baseline reports a vendor provides, your staff is probably going to ask for a lot more "custom" reports than you've budgeted for.