A Data Driven Approach to Document De-cluttering

SAP BusinessObjects (also known as ‘BI Suite’) is the University’s primary reporting tool, but over the years it has become home to a vast amount of reports.

Until now, there has been no practical way of systematically removing old and unused content. With the help of a tool called 360view, the Service Management team and its business partners, will undertake a large-scale decluttering of BusinessObjects over coming months.  

This exercise will improve the user experience, enhance data security, and prepare the system for eventual decommissioning. 

Administrators across the University use BusinessObjects to view and create reports that support important business processes in Student Lifecycle Management, Finance, and more. 

However, recently produced estimates by the Service Management team suggest there is an urgent need to better manage the vast volume of content in the system, including the many thousands of unused reports. Of the ~117k reports housed within BusinessObjects only 10% have been actively used in the past 18 months.

Moreover, 70% of the 2.5k users with an account have either never actually logged into BusinessObjects or have not accessed it in at least a year (see table below). 

Yet up until now, there has been no practical way of better managing the BusinessObjects estate. Although it is possible to identify unused content, there is no facility within the system to bulk archive or delete it – a fact which explains why the volume of content has continued to grow steadily over recent years despite smaller-scale attempts to reduce it.  

The lack of content management within BusinessObjects poses a real problem for users, content providers, and system administrators alike. Confronted with vast amounts of reports, users are often unable to identify which is the most up to date and accurate version of a report they need.

Equally, there are valid security concerns about the number of reports in the system that, when opened, display static data from a previous refresh. A further security worry relates to the practice in some business areas, now halted, of automatically granting staff members a BusinessObjects account without checking whether access was truly needed.  

In an effort to clean up the system, the Service Management team have purchased 360view – a software tool which enables the bulk removal of reports, user accounts, and other content that is no longer required. As well as communicating with all BusinessObjects users about this initiative in Autumn 2023, the team will work closely with content providers on the removal of content through 2024 – especially Registry Services, whose Student reports have a large following. By working together to identify and remove unwanted reports and user accounts, ISG hopes to ensure that only the right people have access to the system, and that it will be easier for users to find and use essential reports. 

Looking to the future, this steady removal of content from the system will assist in preparing BusinessObjects for decommissioning in 2028. Indeed, developments over recent years, such as the introduction of P&M, have greatly reduced the amount of key reporting done through BusinessObjects. This trend is expected to continue, with content providers increasingly switching to the newer and cheaper BI tools IS provides, like Microsoft Power BI and Qlik Sense.

To contact us about this initiative, please raise a UniDesk call to IS Helpline FAO Service Management.

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