The most commonly-used reports of data captured by matter management software are those that come with the software, the so-called “canned reports.” Robust packages have 15 to 20 such pre-formated reports. Many law departments supplement those standard reports with a second capability, that of a third-party report writer such as Business Objects or Crystal Reports. Given a standard database structure, a matter management system can recruit a report writer to prepare reports.
Third, some sophisticated matter management systems have report-writing wizards which allow the user to go beyond the canned reports yet not have to master the more powerful and harder to use report writers.
Yet a fourth variation is for the user to generate one or more canned reports and export the results to a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet software lets the user manipulate and format the data to create a custom report. Finally, I have encountered in my consulting practice some instances where law departments that share the same matter management vendor swap reports that the law departments have individually prepared. Since there is nothing proprietary about a report format, if one department has fashioned a useful format, it might as well share or trade.