Deriving value from data – that’s the end game of reporting. Even today, it can seem at times like businesses exist within sheets, tabs, formulas and cells. Data that fills these spreadsheets often originates from an application. It should always be the goal to construct reports in such a way that minimizes the time it takes to update data, so you can therefore utilize the fixed time you have to analyze it and extract insights. This is how you derive value from data.
Like most things in life, easier said than done. But here are a couple of ideas to help develop clean, repeatable reporting.
Bulk data export
When your data is coming from a platform where you’re simply exporting a flat file, first configure the report with the columns of data you want. When you export this – it becomes your data sheet in excel. With each subsequent export you can then append the next set of rows, aligned to the columns into your data sheet.
You’ll mostly likely be pivoting data from this raw form to draw some insights. By appending new data to the bottom of your sheet, you’ll be able to quickly refresh your pivot table to include the data you just exported, then you can quickly begin to analyze and draw some insights.
Read up on data structure in pivot tables if you need a quick refresher.
Excel (and Google Sheets) now have extremely useful tools to enable direction connection with other applications to update data. These can be configured to import that data you’re interested in and so you can spend your cycles drawing those important insights.