And we cringe even more when we hear “pull me a report that shows me X?”
An Analyst’s role is not to pull data or makeshift reports for preconceived outcomes.
An Analyst slices and dices through data to find hidden treasures (insights) that if acted upon, can help any organization or business make better decisions.
Many analysts today find themselves drowning in a sea of reports that cover just about everything under the sun. Some reports were inherited from previous persons in the role, others originated from a conversation with the Marketing Director or Sales Manager in the lunch room (or parking lot at 6:57 pm on a Friday night), and if you were lucky, some reports emerged in the project scoping process.
So how much of the above is ‘useful’ to the organization (meaning they can act on the insights these reports deliver)? Very little….and worst yet, most insights are missed in all the ‘noise’ or remain hidden and untapped.
You’ve probably heard that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Amid an ocean of data, you want to spend your time looking for treasure, not digging up trash. Here is our five-step guide to being a successful treasure hunter!
An Analyst’s Treasure Map
1. Seek clear and relevant goals & KPIs
- Reports are useless when goals are unclear or undefined
- If you don’t know why you are doing something, how can you measure it? More importantly, how will you know if you are successful?
- If you have trouble getting clear guidance from stakeholders, try asking these questions:
- What are your goals for this project?
- What are you being measured on?
- What does success look like?
- What information would help you make better decisions?
- Goals and KPIs must also be relevant to the objectives of each stakeholder group to allow for equally relevant reporting and analysis
- Ensure that a measurement model is in place before the launch of every campaign, website, or business initiative
- Check regularly with stakeholders to confirm that the defined goals and KPIs are still relevant
2. Focus on producing insights, not pulling metrics
- Raw numbers without context are meaningless
- As an analyst, your job is to add value by interpreting the data and identifying opportunities for your organization
- Don’t be just a “metric puller” or a “report runner”
- Providing actionable insights is the best way to demonstrate your value as an analyst
3. Automate your reports, and spend more time analyzing
- Do you spend hours, days, or maybe even weeks producing a report? How much of that time is just spent on extracting, organizing, and formatting your data?
- Producing actionable insights means you need the time to review and analyze your reports before distributing the results to stakeholders
- There are many tools that can help minimize the time you spend getting and cleaning data, so that you will have more time for analysis:
- The ongoing results will be worth the upfront investment of time
- You know that monthly report that takes you 3 days to compile? What if it could run in 10 minutes? Imagine what you could do with all that extra time!
4. Tell a story
- Communicating the results of your analysis is critical to being an effective analyst
- In any report, aim to tell a story to your readers
- What happened?
- What can we learn from it?
- What actions should we take?
- The numbers in your reports and dashboards are only as useful as the words that accompany them
- Don’t force your reader to interpret what’s important. Ensure that every report contains a section of key highlights or takeaways
5. Boost your skills and efficiency through learning and training
- Take a training course to boost your skills & efficiency
- Learn shortcuts and tricks to save you time on slicing and dicing your data
- Practice makes perfect
- Free online courses like Google’s Analytics Academy or in-classroom courses like ClickInsight’s Google Analytics Course
Be patient as you wade through the above. There is tremendous value in delivering and sharing key reports that can help a business owner and organization make important decisions. Not only will be you showing your organization your value as an analyst (and help you keep your job or advance your career), but you will also find that you are spending more time analyzing and treasure hunting (and not ‘pulling data’).
Good Luck…and we’d love to hear your tips, so do share!