At Elgin Community College we use Entrinsik Informer for almost all reporting needs. Its heaviest use is in HR but we in IT use it everyday. We also have users in Financial Aid, Student Accounts, Curriculum, Institutional Research, Registration and Records. The problem we had before purchasing Informer was we were writing queries and reports in the native database tool. This was OK for IT but very cumbersome and too difficult for most other departments and end users. Therefore the burden of writing reports mainly fell on IT programmers. Informer was a way to turn this back over into the end users hands.
- The main thing that Entrinsik Informer does well is keeping it simple for end users to use. Very little training time was needed for not only for IT people supporting the product but for end users as well. Most of the setup work is in mapping the data and linking the tables. After this is done by IT staff, it is quite easy for the users to write reports that gather data from many files and even different sources.
- Another strength of Entrinsik Informer is its ability to hook it up to numerous datasources. We have used it for unidata databases as well as several SQL Server databases and even one Access database for a special project.
- One last strength is Entrinsik support of the product. It seems like every few months a new released comes out. Small point releases take less than 30 minutes to install counting the time I start kicking people out until they can get back in and use the product. Every time I find a bug or something I think should work differently, it seems like the next release address it. When I suggest a new feature to Entrinsik, they actually listen and more than not it seems to be incorporated in a future release.
- One weakness of Entrinsik Informer is that is can act quite differently depending on what browser you are using with it. At one time I was told that Google Chrome was the preferred browser but then we starting seeing some strange issues using Chrome and was then told Mozilla Firefox was now a preferred browser.
- Lately when opening up a support call, the call is open and I am waiting to hear back from Entrinsik and I get an email stating, 'We have not received a response from you in 5 business days for a support request you submitted. We will automatically be closing the ticket.' This is a little irritating when I am wait for a response, not the other way around.
- We have experienced a drastic cut in training time needed for new users to get up to speed on reporting. Most users can write a complete report with less than an hour of tips, hints or training.
- We have reports run in the middle of the night and have data at the employees hands the minute they sign onto their computer each morning. Therefore employee efficiency has gone up since they don't have to gather data or run the reports themselves. Keep in mind these are not even Informer users, all they know if there is a email (From Informer) waiting for them when they get in. Although we may only have 20 employees that actual use Informer itself, the reports that come from Informer touches hundreds.
- Excel,Query Builder
Before purchasing Entrinsik Informer we used Query Builder or Excel via an odbc driver to access and report of off Unidata. Both of these other products only allowed us to report off of one table at a time. If you wanted data from multiple tables that had to be done with some other tool after extracted from the database. Neither tool had a robust report writer or a report scheduler like we needed. Informer solved both of these problems for us.
We have now migrated away from Unidata and moved onto SQL Server. We originally thought we might leave Informer and hunt for another tool. After using Informer with SQL and being able to paste native queries into the report template changed our minds a little. That coupled with its familiarity to our current users and the robust report scheduling capabilities have made us feel that Informer is still the product for us for years to come.
If you are looking for a reporting tool for Unidata then I would give Entrinsik Informer a 10! You will not find a better tool for the price. The added bonus is that it will also work with many other datasources. If you are 100% SQL databases then I would give it about an 8. The ability to paste native queries into a report template and then schedule the job and have it email specific users is great.