You Ask, I Answer: Analytics Reports Tools?

Julie asks, “How do you put your analytics reports together? Excel, powerpoint, or something else?”

As with any questions about tools, the answer is contingent on many factors.

– What does the person have? Excel and Powerpoint are nearly ubiquitous, as is a web browser
– What has the customer asked for?
– What are your own technical limitations?
– What will the customer actually use?
– Think about radical ideas like internal podcasts

Here’s how you know your reports have failed: someone wants a meeting to review them. If someone says, “Walk me through this report”, the report has not done its job of conveying what happened, why, and what are the next steps or decisions to be made.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Julie asks, How do you put your Analytics reports together Excel, PowerPoint, something else as any question about tools, which is what we’re talking about here?

The answer is contingent upon many factors, and

many different pieces of information that you need to have in order to give a great answer. So what are those factors? Number one, what is the person the the customer have? What do they have the ability to read for document formats, it’s great if you like me use advanced analytics tools. But if the customer doesn’t have them, then that’s no good, right? Because the customer can’t open your data and can’t review what it is you’ve put together. So know that the reason why we do things like Excel, or PowerPoint or web browser interfaces, because that’s what everybody has that the sort of the guarantee everyone’s at least got a web browser because almost everyone’s got a smartphone. Second is what has the customer asked for. And this is an important one, I did some work for a major telecom company a little while ago. And they, their their senior executives like to read on the plane, they were on plans all the time. And so everything had to be in like the 70 page Word document. So I’m like, this is really not the best way to to present some of this information. And they said, No, that’s what the boss wants, the boss likes to sit down with a glass of something or other and on their flights, from point A to point B, they read through these documents, and red line them. And that was your thing, it had to be paper, it was, you know, no interactive, no links were given very specific instructions, the boss likes to read through the ream of paper, red line things and hands off his his analysis, essentially, of the data back to his team

when they get back to wherever it was that they were going. So what is the customer asked for is a big thing. And if you are putting together Analytics reports for somebody, this is a key question to ask is, what format Are you comfortable with?

The third question is, what are your technical limitations, and what can you do, it’s great, if you want to do something like have interactive dashboards, but if you’re not versed in tools, like shiny, or Tablo, then interactive dashboards are going to be a little more difficult. Even if even something like Google Data Studio, if you’ve never used it,

it’s probably a good idea to get some practice with it first, before rolling it out as a reporting format. So what are your own technical limitations and forth?

and probably most important, I think is what’s the customer actually going to use? What will they make use of it is absolutely no use to crank out a report in any format.

If it immediately goes into somebody’s circular file, or they archive the email or they glance through it and their eyes glaze over.

That’s no good. There’s no point in doing the reporting because it’s not being used. So what will the customer actually use? And this is where you have to do a lot of legwork to ask your customers, how do you use reports? What do you use your reports for? When do you use reports? who reads this report? Why do you read the report

that we generate? And

all of these are really important things? Like when do you When do you get work, like reviewing reports done on surprising who, what, where, when, why, how,

right, the

classic six questions, asked these questions about your reports, and give some real thoughts to unconventional report formats that work for your

customer. So let’s say that you’ve got a customer and they are they have a commute, or they go to the gym,

nothing stops you from putting together an internal podcast where you review the report in audio format, so that they can get their work done, make use of that time


get it in a format that works for them. So those are sort of the four big questions for putting together Analytics reports.

Now, here’s the other thing. This is a really important point.

If somebody gets your report, and then says they want a meeting to review the report with you, that means your report is failed. At no point should someone who reads your report,

ask you to walk

them through it right, follow up questions, a great follow up men, they read the report, they got value out of it. And then they want to even dig deeper, or they want a more thorough analysis of one point. But if they’re just asking you to walk me through this report, your report has failed, because it did not deliver what the person was asking for.

Which means you need to go back to the beginning of the process and say, Okay, well, how are you going to use this thing? What are you going to use this thing for? Who’s reading it? How is it used, when is it used, and so on, so forth, your reports fail when they don’t do the job of conveying the information to the to the person to the customer in the way that they want to consume it.

So go back through for all your reporting and figure out what it is that you really being asked for.

Another thing is this as much as we’d like to automate reports. And believe me, I am

the biggest fan of automation of live dashboards of live data feeds and things like that.

The only thing you can do with reports for automation is to automate the delivery and the processing of the data. You cannot automate the insights, you cannot automate the recommendations, you cannot automate the cues, what we should do next. And remember, there’s a reporting format we’ve called the same format, the summary which is like if you read nothing else, read this thing, the analysis what happened, the insights, why did it happen, the next steps, what are we going to do about it? Or what do you need to make a decision about in order for us to move forward and then a timeline that’s the format in absence of anything else that all of your reports should have, which means that the almost all of it is going to be non automated, the only part that’s going to be potentially automate will be the analysis part where you analyze the data, everything else requires you to

add value to

the reporting process and say, This is what why the things happen that they did, what the next steps are, what the decisions we need to be made are and this is the time frame is going to occur. If you format your reports like that you will be very pleased at how little you have to walk through people through the reporting process and how much more your reports will do to advance the programs the causes the metrics that you care about? So great question, Julie. It’s a complex question. It’s a question that a lot of people get very, very wrong. Don’t worry about the tools so much as worry about the format and worry about the reports are doing the job they want, getting information to people and getting them to ultimately make decisions or let you do what it is that you need to do to get the results that everybody cares about. As always, please leave your comments in the comments below and subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter will talk to you soon

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