Analysis by Layers

If you ever took a SurveyPro training class from me, you know my approach to reporting:

  • Insert a simple table or chart
  • Add a filter
  • Try a cross-tab instead
  • Copy, switch the new figure to a different chart type
  • Regroup the data into different ranges
  • Add a benchmark column
  • Mix in another question or metric
  • Add an inferential statistic like Chi Square
  • Explore some more

I attended a Tableau event last week, and was delighted to see their software demonstrated in the same way.

On rare occasion there will be a Grand Plan for the reports, with details about exactly what breakdowns decision makers care about, or matching a prior year’s format. If you know your reporting software well enough, you can dive in and build each figure in a single step.

But most of the time, we’re exploring the information as we go, playing with relationships and sub-groups to see what is or isn’t significant. We’re looking for both the insights and the best way to communicate them to others—whether that reader wants a quick dashboard check-in or the nitty-gritty numbers.

Plus, software is complicated as heck, and unless you’re a power user, you’re not going to remember exactly where every control is located. Never beat yourself up over having to poke around.

So be curious, and try letting your data speak to you, rather than arranging it into an expected output.

By the way, I’ll have more about Tableau and how it might work for your surveys in a couple months. I’ve started a business intelligence analytics certificate, and one of the classes will give me a nice grounding in its functions.

Need a Hand?

A little help can add a lot of polish—or just save hours and headaches:

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Thanks so much for such a terrific training class. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. Most importantly, I've got a lot more confidence now in using SurveyPro.

Thomas Hier
Biddison Hier