Beginning in mid-August 2016, FFRA website content will be moving to the Northwestern IT site's new section for Administrative Systems.

Reporting Tips

 

Reports from NUFinancials, InfoEd, and FAMIS are available via the Cognos BI tool from the NUPortal
(NUPortal > Financial > System Login > Cognos):

https://nuportal.northwestern.edu
or
https://reporting.northwestern.edu

To Access Reports in Cognos BI:

1. Log in using your NetID and password
2. Select IBM Cognos Content
3. Select Finance, Facilities, and Research Administration
4. Select the School folder
5. Click the desired report link
6. Fill in the prompts as appropriate
7. Click Finish

If we have issues with any of the reports, we will publish them on our Cognos BI status page.

Updated Nightly

  • You can run reports daily, not just at month end—data is updated nightly.
  • Because of this, Cognos reports run between 7pm and 7am may show some inconsistencies.
  • We advise waiting until 7am, when updates are finished, to get the most current data (as of 5pm the day before). This applies to scheduled reports as well.

 


Cognos BI Tips

General

  • Some new users may not see the Finance, Facilities, and Research Administration folder in Cognos BI. It may be listed on another page.
  • You can scroll to the next page using the next page next page button or last page last page button buttons.

  • The default number of entries listed on a page is 15 rows per page.
    • To change the default number of entries on a page:
      1. Click My Area my area button and select My Preferences.
      2. Under the General tab, Number of entries in list view: change 15 to 75 (or any number). Click OK.

  • Search: You may also search for the report ID in the search box found at the upper right:

    search box

  • Searching by PI name
    It can be very frustrating to try to run reports by PI name because the database searches by first name. However, there is an easy solution: Use the wildcard character before the last name in the search field. For Cognos the wildcard is the % character.

    Before: no wildcard in search


    cognos search with no wildcard

    After: wildcard (%) in search

    cognos search with wildcard (%)



  • PDF: Users must select the PDF view option before emailing a report AND select only Attach the report.
    • This allows the report to be sent as an attachment.
    • If another view option such as HTML is selected along with “Attach the report” the report will appear in the body of the email instead of as an attachment.

  • Viewing Cognos reports in Excel: Some people may need to hold the CTRL key down until the report opens.
    More information: Configuring Browsers to Allow Downloads from NU Enterprise Applications

Prompts

  • Required prompts are indicated with an orange asterisk
  • Reports will run faster if you fill out all of the prompts
    • If non-required prompts are left blank, the system will search all data which could increase processing time
  • You can use wildcards (%) in any of your prompt value searches
  • Information about new prompts as of April 2011:

Saving Prompts & Scheduling Reports

Job Aid: How to Save Prompts and Run Reports on Demand in Cognos pdf icon
Job Aid: How to Save and Schedule Reports to be Delivered pdf icon
Job Aid: Tips: Saving Prompts & Scheduling Reports pdf icon

 

(Don't) Select All

  • For performance reasons, NEVER select all items in a list prompt (for example, Fund) using the Select All link option
  • The best way to view all values is to select nothing, and Cognos BI will show all by default.

screen shot of list prompt

 

GL008 - Revenue & Expense Activity Report Tips

Here is a list of best practices for running Cognos reports. It will especially help those running GL008:

  1. Don't leave both the department and project prompts blank when running the report.
    This is called running the report ‘wide open’ (i.e., just letting your security profile pick out the depts and projects) and will hurt performance.

  2. Fill out as many ChartField prompt values as you can.

  3. Use of the department Select & Search prompt returns results faster than the department Tree prompt.

  4. Running the report in 'off-peak' hours (between 2pm and 6pm) is generally better than in the morning.

  5. Run the report on a schedule and save the output in your 'My Folders'. This isn't faster, but you can continue your work while the report runs in the background.

  6. If you run the report on-demand (i.e., not via scheduling), the HTML formatted report will return the quickest. PDF and Excel will be slower, so schedule those runs in the background.

  7. Nightly updates occur between 7pm and 7am, so we advise waiting until at least 7am, when updates are finished, to get the most current data. This applies to scheduled reports as well.

 

Sponsored Research Tips

See also: Expenses/Advances on Sponsored Projects
See also: Sponsored Project Balances, Payments, and Billing
See also: Sponsored Project Chart String
See also: Job Aid: Sponsored Payments Inquiry pdf icon
See also: Job Aid: Sponsored Billing Inquiry pdf icon

 

Expenses created from Expense Reports will be reflected in the reports as “expenses” once they are budget checked, even if all approvals have not been processed, BUT F&A will not be applied to these expenses until they have been completely approved.

 



Cognos BI Report Data Notes

  1. The budget shown on the GL005 - Summary Budget Status report is the current budget for that chart string as of when the report is run.
    • If a budget is adjusted in the current month and then a prior month’s budget statement is re-run, the new budget will be displayed on the prior month report.
    • The GL008 - Revenue & Expense Activity report displays the budget as it existed in the specific period for which the report was run.

  2. Employee expense reports and Actuals journals are shown in the Actual column on GL005 - Summary Budget Status and the Transactions column on GL008 - Revenue & Expense Activity as soon as they are budget checked. 
    The GL Post Date column on the GL008 - Revenue & Expense Activity is blank if the expense report or journal entry has yet to be finalized and paid to the employee.

  3. Cognos BI reports are intended to show an up-to-the-day view of each chart string’s financial position.
    • It is possible that transactions that are not yet submitted or fully approved can be modified after the close of an accounting period and, thus, the budget statement for that accounting period can change.
    • These circumstances should be rare and will always be the result of user intervention (e.g., changing a chart string on a transaction after it was previously budget checked).
    • You can reduce the occurrence of such changes by approving any pending transactions from the prior calendar month before the close of the accounting period.  For target closing dates see Accounting Services' Monthly Closing Calendar pdf icon
    • These transactions must pass through workflow after being modified, so changes will not occur without your knowledge.
    • Transactions that are cancelled will be reflected on budget statements for the month in which they are cancelled.

  4. The GL005 - Summary Budget Status report will not return results for Project IDs that begin with a “6."
    Run GM045 - Sponsored Project Budget Statement or GL008 - Revenue & Expense Activity for these Project IDs instead.

  5. Department Master Tree: You have the option of selecting one of two NU Department Master trees in Cognos for certain reports (GL005, GL008, GL009, GL010, GM045, GL068, GL069, GL070, GL071, GL072, and GL073).
    • The most current (up-to-date) tree is named Tree (As of Today) in Cognos.
    • On September 1, the Tree (As of Today) reflects the new fiscal year.
    • The tree from the prior fiscal year is named according to that fiscal year (for example, Tree FY 2010).
    • Only the tree for the current fiscal year and the prior fiscal year are available.
    • For help in selecting which tree to use, see our Job Aid: What Tree Do I Select? pdf icon

Additional Resources

Training Materials

Detailed training on basic and advanced topics related to running Cognos reports, including further information about saving and scheduling commonly run reports.

More Tips & Tricks

Full list of FFRA system tips

Help

For assistance, contact the IT Support Center at 847-491-4357 (1-HELP) option 2
or email consultant@northwestern.edu