In my last blog entry, I misspoke. I said there were two main entities – customers and orders – on which sales departments base their reporting. While true, the real world is a little less clear.
For most sales reporting, the most important starting point in the data architecture is the order detail table or equivalent. Sure, there are a lot of reports that will just look at customer characteristics, but those are more suited for marketing than sales use.
For true sales reporting, start with the sales.
I mentioned the detail file because it is the most important. Within ERP applications, there are often order header files which is useful mostly to the ERP application itself. Real world reporting will need to look at the detail level in order to arrive at custom aggregation and tailored analytics.
The data needed for the order detail is simple. The fields needed are broken into foreign keys and facts.
For foreign keys, the simplest ones are who, what and when the sale occurred. Roughly, that is the customer number, item number, date, and salesperson number.
For facts, companies can get a little too wild with this information. Start with the basics of price and quantity. If there is a cost or margin field, grab that, too. Getting more detail might help some people, but the vast majority of sales reporting is handled just by those basic fields.
Keep it simple to start. Too much choice takes up time and creates confusion in the minds of businesspeople.
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