Three ways to become more efficient at your reporting

Every day, week, month, or even year, we spend time at our computers tapping away to create data heavy reports, turning the data into information, then visualizing it in graphs and charts. It can be pretty easy to do all of this, once you get into the rhythm of the reports that are due every week. You can easily zone out and pull data from all of your sources, combine, and visualize.

What many people don’t realize is that it can be inefficient. We are humans who can use our brains to be more creative than that! So how do we make our reporting more efficient? Here are three ways to become more efficient at reporting and get your crew back to devising better ways to report information to their teams.

Using Database Style / Clean Data For Efficient Data Diving

One of the most overlooked items in reporting is the format of the data. Sometimes, data comes in looking very messy. This means that tables are on top of tables or maybe there are just a ton of spaces between your data points. It’s going to take time (and lots of scrolling) to try to reference all of these different tables.

If you use a database style of data management, you’ll find it so much easier. Pivot tables are going to function very effectively, filtering is going to be a dream, and finding those nuggets of information from that data or trends can mean the difference between making a good decision instead of an ill-informed one.

Difficult to filter database
Difficult to filter database
Easy to filter database / clean data
Easy to filter database / clean data

Using Excel Macros

Excel has quickly become one of the most widely used spreadsheet programs, but its power is untapped by many users. Every day, analysts pull the same report to see how their campaigns are running or how sales have been. I’ve seen many just look at the interface, find the number they want, and copy/paste it into a spreadsheet.

If you find yourself repeating the same task over and over, stop it. Take an hour or two to see if you can record a macro to help crunch your data more efficiently. Many times, platforms are able to spit out a spreadsheet report in the same format. It’s much quicker than looking at interfaces and copy/pasting data, where human error can sneak in and cause unintentional errors. The macros can take this format and reformat the data into what you need it to be every time!

Efficient Data Management Through Excel Macros
Efficient Data Management Through Excel Macros

Using an auto-updating dashboard

When you have a report that has the same types of data every time, it’s time to move up to a dashboard. I’m not talking about dashboards that are created in a keynote or PDF. I’m talking about a smart dashboard. These dashboards connect out to data sources using APIs that automatically grab data from these sources every minute, hour, or day. The dashboard program itself then takes this data and displays this in graphs, charts, tables, gauges, or any way else that makes sense to display the data.

Auto-Updating Analytics Dashboard
Auto-Updating Analytics Dashboard

Efficient Reporting Next Steps

Once you have identified an option to start with, don’t make it a quick transition. Make sure to test and run your new reporting style in tandem with your old reporting style. Once you’re sure that everything is 100% accurate (or you caught a few errors that your old style missed), you’re ready to make the switch!

Look forward to additional articles in this series as we deep dive into each of these options.

If you are looking into tools to help you manage your data reporting process, check out our buyer’s guide and see if Analytics 360 is right for you!



DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE


Also published on Medium.