Wednesday, August 12, 2009

3 Easy Checks to Ensure Quality Analytics Reporting

Are you new to business intelligence, predictive analytics or analysis in general. With all the talk about data visualization and how effective it is in telling a story; well it’s grand!

Here’s another way of looking at it – really, data visualization allows your VP to review the report over a cappuccino and reading emails on their Blackberry, while talking on the phone, and waving in the admin assistant (I believe that’s the politically correct term).

So how often are decisions made based on bad reports. Or bad decisions based on good reports.

Let’s just say the data is 100% accurate, is it still possible to have less than stellar reports (I was going to use a word that rhymes with ‘happy’, “but les than stellar” – works as well).

Here are three simple things you can do to make sure your reports are good quality reports.

-- 1) Pie charts: they are suppose to equal 100%, so if you have a chart that totals 103%, ask yourself what happened and fix the calculations.

-- 2) Rounding Issues: Some old applications and databases drop the full value of the numbers so that they may round the value, and some modern day applications as well (depending on your settings). If this is the case, remember to sum your columns to ensure that the value you are reporting as the total is the actual total. The other problem with rounding is lost data, and increased values. Your 6.25 or 5.87 value can each be rounded to 6. So be careful. Choose wisely!

-- 3) Decimal point: If you’re doing a report on the amount of sales you perform on your products, or services, just make sure the decimal place is where it should be. Having the decimal place in the incorrect position will ruin everything! You don't want to say your selling Widget ABC for $1.10, when it's actually $0.11.

Decimal Point Facts:

· Remember for doctors, pharmacists, nurses entering the decimal point in the wrong place can actually kill someone (i.e., incorrect dosage).

· We all know that Popeye’s spinach fetish had more to do with the decimal point then with actual iron content (How often did you hear, eat your spinach it'll make you strong like Popeye, when you were young, when all you wanted was a nice juicy steak).

· How often do banks withdraw 5500.00$ instead of 55.00$?

Something else to think about.

If you’ve checked the above three points in a report that has been produced for eons, and these errors are happening, and no one has said anything, not a word, nothing! Then there’s two things going on…no one is using that report (imagine that for a moment, no one is using your report, what a waste of resources). Or your organization will eventually feel the effects of bad reporting in the financials or other areas of the organization.

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