Actionable Analytics: It’s How You Tell It

April 6, 2010

When delivering actionable analytics within an organisation I often spend some time removing commentary from management reports. I have found that the regular reporting packs produced for senior management are often drowning in long commentaries that attempt to explain the data in the packs.

This immediately gets me asking ‘Why?’ most of the commentary exists.

Why can’t the data do the talking? What is it about the way the data is organised and presented that makes it necessary to add all of this text?

In my experience there are a number of reasons for this.

The first is poor design of the report. Not enough thought has been given to either the purpose of the report (i.e. what are the objectives? what are the decisions we want taken?) or the audience (i.e. what are the information requirements of the decisions makers? how do they prefer information to be presented?).

A second reason may be limitations in the tools being used to produce the report. Even the best business intelligence tools have their functional limitations and as the first rule of report design states:

“Within any given set of business analytic requirements there will be at least one that is impossible to