What to Do When Your Data Looks Off

If you’re seeing the opposite trend, where your sales increased dramatically, look into your recent marketing efforts and new clients to see if that is a major driver.

Ask yourself these questions first.

If you’re still not confident that the data is correct, move on to checking the data source.

Understanding where the data comes fromSometimes, changes in a database or reporting structures can impact key performance indicators (KPIs).

If you’re working out of your own individual Excel or Data Visualization report, it’s also important to check your own calculations.

For data that comes from a pre-made report or someone else created it, talk to them to see if they’re seeing the same numbers that you’re questioning.

Show them the trends you identified beforehand to talk through what the cause of the change could be.

If it’s a report you built or are in the process of building, double check your source and calculations.

Oftentimes, a small calculation can have a severe domino effect.

Check to ensure you’re using the right formulas, that you’re pulling from the right tables and columns, and that you used correct formula etiquette like locking cells.

If you’re working with complicated formulas, break it out into sections to make sure each part is calculating correctly.

Proving, or Disproving, the DataNow that you’ve done your due diligence, there are two outcomes: the data is either right, or it’s wrong.

If you find that it is wrong, whether a calculation error or a change to the base reporting, make note of the cause and be able to speak to it if any questions come up.

Make sure that all historical data matches the new calculation or is not impacted by the reporting change.

If the data is right, tell the story.

Define the reasons driving the data, whether it’s a change in the number of active, new clients coming onboard, large clients leaving, or a change in product consumption.

The next time, if you get caught in a meeting with colleagues or a client and they question the datapoint, you’ll be confident in the data and the story it tells.

Written by Kate MacDermott.

Originally published on The Distillery on October 24, 2018.

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