ViaData has released the new Catalyst Report Writer, a tool forming part of the Catalyst Business Systems Engine suite and dramatically simplifying the creation of reports for business.

Order summaries, finance analyses, performance metrics, stock breakdowns, customer quotations and extracting useful information from IT systems can now be done as the business desires, not as IT budgets dictate.
Using Catalyst Report Writer, when businesspeople need reports they can design them in Microsoft Word, and then through a simple linking process by IT staff turn them into dynamic documents. The reports are rendered as HTML documents that can be viewed with MS Word, a Wed browser or the Catalyst HTML viewer.
Traditionally, creating reports and summaries from corporate information systems has been a very specialised skill. It requires the use of commercial report writing tools, and usually needs a good grasp of the underlying data structures and a number of very technical concepts. This has meant that creating reports or other documents that use data extracted from business systems has been left in the hands of technical programmers who then also had to take on responsibility for the report layouts. At each step they need to go back and get approval from the managers for whom the reports were being created.
This iterative process of write-review-rewrite is time consuming and expensive, and ties up valuable skills in a task that¹s frequently tedious.
The need to bring in advanced technical skills to create reports means that business units often find it difficult to innovate ­ they cannot experiment with new or better formats without an onerous process.
"We designed Catalyst, and now Catalyst Report Writer, to allow a relatively skilled manager or business analyst to do most of the work themselves, reducing the complexity of development radically ­ which means, of course, a lot less time and money spent developing useful information systems," explains Craig Byren, MD of ViaData.
"Most business professionals are very comfortable working in Word, allowing them to design the report as they like it. In most cases, 90% of the developer's time is spent fiddling with layouts and positions of graphics. Now with Catalyst and Catalyst Report Writer, businesspeople can decide on what information they want and how it should be presented, the IT professionals can focus purely on ensuring that the underlying data links are done correctly. It takes a fraction of the time, and each person in the process only has to do what they need to do."