Hidden Heroes in SuiteAnalytics Workbook

By - October 2, 2018

Delivering long-awaited reporting enhancements like multi-level joins, a user-friendly drag and drop interface and a host of options for data visualization, SuiteAnalytics Workbook may be the most exciting feature to launch in NetSuite 2018.2.

As a fresh new offering for data analysis (saved searches and reports continue to be supported), the NetSuite ecosystem is buzzing with discussion and reviews of the SuiteAnalytics Workbook functionality. Rather than focus on the major highlights, which every blog and industry-expert will surely cover, this piece will outline some of the hidden heroes of the new tool and some of the areas yet to be addressed by the new functionality.

SuiteAnalytics Workbook – Hidden Heroes:

Description field – In saved searches and reports, users are restricted to the character-limited title field to convey the purpose and expected report output. Each workbook has a free-text description field allowing a detailed explanation of the purpose of the query. With this new description field, users can follow a standardized naming convention without sacrificing the ability to quickly identify a report and the expected output.

Undo and Redo – Experienced NetSuite users will know that there is a measure of trial and error when building a complex search or report. Sometimes you add a field and end up with repeating lines or set criteria and lose all of your results. During the query-building process, you may end up trying 5 different formulas before finding the one that returns the desired results. Although saved searches contain an audit trail, it is laborious to retrace steps when attempting to revert to an earlier version. Reports do not provide any change tracking or audit trail. By comparison, the SuiteAnalytics Workbook contains undo/redo functionality, similar to that available in Excel, allowing an easy method to step forward or backward through changes when editing.

Formula Validation – For complex queries, it is often necessary to turn to a custom SQL formula or function. Unless users have a background writing database queries, many find it difficult to know proper syntax or which type of formula to use (this will depend on the output datatype i.e. Text, Currency, Numeric etc.). Depending on the type of errors, improperly formatted formulas will either yield no results for the column or can even prevent the entire search from running. If the user has made changes prior to adding the faulty formula, those changes will be lost if the search throws an error during execution.

Given the lack of detail in the resulting error messages, it is easy to become discouraged when attempting to utilize complex logic. The SuiteAnalytics workbook contains a ‘Validate’ button on the screen where a formula is entered. Once the writer has defined their formula, they can click the validate button and obtain immediate feedback on the validity of the syntax. If there is an error or the result resolves to an incorrect datatype, the writer is immediately notified and does not lose any work as a result of the error.

Formula Help – In a NetSuite search, users must understand SQL functions ahead of time in order to use a function in a formula. The Suite Analytics Workbook is designed to make such logic more accessible to the average user. When creating a custom formula and selecting a function available from the pre-populated list, a description of the function’s purpose and an example are displayed onscreen. Thus, the user is more likely to choose correctly with the additional help during entry.

Advanced Sorting – NetSuite report functionality does not support use of formulas beyond basic arithmetic. In saved searches, you can write custom formulas to check for case and null values when defining search criteria but that typically means excluding a subset of data from results. SuiteAnalytics Workbook permits sorting data based on case and whether the result record contains a null value. This permits users to more easily evaluate data on screen without having to export to Excel to manipulate the results. Additionally, if you have added a custom formula to your dataset, you are able to select it as a sorting criteria, a feature not currently available in Saved Searches.

SuiteAnalytics Workbook – Missing in Action:

Support for all record types – All record types are not available to query in the new SuiteAnalytics Workbook – for example, Advanced Revenue Management-related objects are not yet supported in the 2018.2 version. You can check which records are available by clicking ‘Create New Workbook’ and reviewing the resulting list or using the search bar. Remember that the results will be impacted by the permissions assigned to your role.

Schedule results to be sent by email – As of the latest release, workbook results may be exported and emailed but the functionality to schedule results to be sent via email is not yet available. This feature will likely be added in one of the next few releases.

Perform calculation on aggregated data – This new feature simplifies data aggregation and allows users to view information in a format that previously would have required an external application like Excel to generate. In the current version, it is not possible to perform calculations on data once aggregated. Until SuiteAnalytics Workbook supports this functionality, users can continue to use an application like Excel for any advanced data manipulation or calculations as needed.

Pre-Built reports – In 2018.2, only one standard or sample report is available – “SalesBy Analytical Application.” NetSuite will undoubtedly build a library of standard reports over time, but for now, users will need to create their own queries. Be sure to search SuiteAnswers for Article ID: 77309 which contains links to detailed instructions to create more than 20 different workbooks. For example:

Be sure to search SuiteAnswers for ‘SuiteAnalytics Workbook’ to find documentation, training videos and additional resources on this powerful new reporting tool. Additionally, don’t hesitate to use the ‘Give Feedback’ button on the workbook page to let NetSuite know what you love about the new feature and what you hope to see improved in the next release.

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