Get Your Programmers Out of the Report Writing Business

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programmers, IBM i report writingI get surprised when I see shops that still use programmers to produce reports. Programmers are expensive. And there’s usually too much valuable programming work to be done to waste programmer time writing a simple report.

My philosophy has always been: if you need a programmer to set it up and use it, it’s an outdated software model. And that’s especially true for report writing. It’s time to get your programmers out of the report writing business.

The first step in removing programmers from generating reports is to buy good report writing software that matches user needs. There are several great IBM i query tool/report writer packages out there, including my own DBXFlex software that allows users to create their own reports. There’s no reason to use expensive and sometimes scarce programming talent to produce reports when these tools are available.

The second step is deciding how you want to produce reports using that software. Or rather who do you want to produce your reports: programmers or end users?

Here’s a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of using programmers versus using end users to create business reports.

    Report writing group              Advantages            Disadvantages
Programmers or business intelligence (BI) group Intimate knowledge of company databases and how data is created 

Skilled at collating, merging different data sources, and presenting data  

Can generate reports for users across different departments


Report generation takes time away from other valuable programming activities that can produce revenue 

Programmers and BI groups are expensive resources to waste on report creation 

IT backlog may delay users from receiving reports when they need them 

Reports may have to go through an IT prioritization process and user departments may be “charged back” for report writing

Departmental specialist or end user Closer to business and understands how data benefits the business 

More motivated to create and generate reports “on demand”, rather than waiting for IT resources to come free 

Report generation not affected by other IT priorities and users not charged back for report creation

May need users in different departments to produce reports that meet each department’s needs 

May need to be trained in IBM i application database, where information resides, and how to manipulate the data 

Report writing may take away from other company line functions the user is in charge of

There are benefits and drawbacks to using either group. But as I said before, if you need a programmer to set up and use reporting software, you’re using an outdated model. 

Any software worth its price makes it easy to produce reports that can be created and used by anyone, not just programmers. Good report writing software allows you to position your report writing capabilities where they provide the biggest benefits for your business.

In my humble opinion, the closer the person needing the report gets to the person producing the report, the better. And that’s the best reason for getting your programmers out of the report writing business and putting it in the hands of your users.


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