Looking way back to the origins of the Blackbaud RE NXT Database view we had, The Raiser’s Edge 6.x, which was accompanied by The Raiser’s Edge Sample Reports Guide. As we all moved from hosting our own data on premise to having our data hosted by Blackbaud we also moved to RE NXT which gave us more reporting capabilities and insights. I thought that by reviewing where reporting came from and where we are today would be a good start for my 2024 goal of recreating the core reports from the Sample Reports Guide into current leading report development tools like Microsoft Power BI.
Report Teaching Experience
I used to teach the The Raiser’s Edge five-day class for Blackbaud and I would cover how to run reports and show how queries and filters could be applied. We didn’t have time to run each report, but I would pick a few core reports from each section and show that once you understood the filters and parameters that running any of the reports was a simple task. What wasn’t a simple task was finding the specific report to run. One of my first jobs at Blackbaud as a Raiser’s Edge Product Specialist was manning the support hotline where I was continually asked how to create specific reports on specific data, having the Sample Reports Guide handy was an easy way to look for reports that matched the requests. Below is the table of contents from the Sample Reports Guide:
Sample Report Guide Categories
Evolution of Reporting
All of the reports available in the Sample Reports Guide were created with Crystal Reports. I used to teach the basic, advanced and custom classes for Crystal Reports. Crystal Reports could go from simple to complicated very quickly and third-party Crystal Report developers who also knew the Raiser’s Edge were hard to find and expensive. Microsoft’s AI assistant Copilot is now available within Power BI along with an army of developers. With the evolution of new reporting tools and the availability of ActiveEcho which provides a continually refreshing Azure SQL database of your RE NXT data, finding a report developer is a simple task.
Looking Ahead to 2024
Part of my role as ActiveEcho Product Ambassador is to promote it’s use and facilitate discussions and user groups. Everyone needs reports and running reports from the RE NXT Database View is still an option but in 2024 we should be able to enhance reporting and data insights using tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI to start with and ultimately, I am working on connecting ChatGPT, Copilot and other AI tools for natural language queries and reports. My goal in 2024 is to tackle a meaningful and core report a month from the old Sample Reports Guide and recreate it using Microsoft Power BI.
The Gift Detail and Summary Report is where I started in the standard five-day training class. Which reports would you like to see recreated? Which reports do you find most challenging? What insights are you hoping to gain from your data in 2024?
It doesn’t make sense to recreate every report in order like I am working my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julie Child. But starting off the new year creating the most beneficial reports seems a good place to start.
What reports have you found most challenging? Share your experiences in the comments below!