One of the biggest complaints you hear about trademark docketing and management software is the difficulty of running reports. Most systems provide a selection of standard or “canned reports” but canned reports has become a pejorative term; it seems no-one likes them and they can’t usually be changed. “Custom” reports are just as bad; the experience there is of wasted time, trial and error, and an unsatisfactory result.
Reports are in many ways one of the most important parts of a docketing system. Content has to be correct, but presentation is just as important. An attorney’s work product, the face shown to the client, is often a piece of paper containing a report, an opinion, or a list of deadlines.
So what kind of reports should you expect?
At TM Cloud we provide three types of report.
1. Excel reports
Excel reports are the most widely used and the most popular, because of their flexibility and familiarity. But they should come pre-formatted, to look their best, and be amendable, to take care of the old rule, that whatever standard reports are provided they are not exactly what the user wants. You must be able to add and remove fields, and change their positions, the sort order and emphasis. A drag and drop interface is mandatory, as is the ability to save any changes. Having settled on your perfect report and made it the default, then you need to be able to select a set of records, (one click) go to the reports menu (one click) and run the report (one click).
Excel reports are editable but can also be saved as PDF. We also provide CSV reports which are useful for internal use, and for large reports (500 rows or more).
2. PDF reports
PDF reports tend to be fixed and not editable, but are good from a presentation point of view. They are attractive if well designed, with headers, footers, pagination and branding logos, but their basic creation is best left to programmers. Customized PDF reports are another User option.
3. Template reports
Templates are used to produce merge documents and standard correspondence and emails. Historically they have been difficult to set up and were usually run on a record by record basis. Now things have changed; template editors have the editing capabilities of Word, with the addition of a drag and drop interface for inserting fields and tables.
In TM Cloud, list reports can be set up as templates, and run from search results hit lists. This gives the user complete authorship of the end result, with output as html, a Word document or PDF. One tip for programmers, on how to design trademark docketing and management software: start with the output, the reports the User needs, and work back from there.