BPA Featured Article

Creating Reports That Enable Understanding

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC
April 27, 2018

Math is hard. So is life. Get over it.

My husband is a math teacher. And one of his nephews got him a shirt with this saying on it.

Pretty funny, right?

Well, maybe for some. However, if you’re a student coming up on finals week, or a manager working to build a report on what’s happening in your call center, you may not get a lot of giggles out of math humor.

Because math really is hard.

But with some work and the right tools, you can conquer it and create reports to help your business uncover what’s going on. (Or ace that math test!)

The first order of business is to organize your data and bring what you need together so it’s in a usable format. 

You may also want to consider using tools within common business software such as Excel. For example, Excel’s pivot tables allow users to extract the significance from a large, detailed data set.

Slicers are another great feature within Excel. They are one-click filtering controls that narrow the portion of a data set on a pivot table or chart.

Providing data in a visual format is also a great way to show people what’s going on. That’s true whether you’re talking about trends within a business environment like a call center, within a network, or within a population.

Whatever tools and techniques you use to build your reports and present your data, remember that the goal is to leverage your data to allow for greater understanding.

So keep it simple. Make it attractive. And use reports to offer greater clarity.

As mathematician William Paul Thurston reportedly said: “Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations, or algorithms. It is about understanding.”

Hey, that would look good on a T-shirt!


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