Businesses often confuse analysis with reporting…
Some invest in complex analytical tools when they really need to streamline the reporting process. Others pursue reporting capabilities when seeking in-depth analysis for their data.
The reality is that both reporting and analysis are critical to the success of any business. Deploying an integrated approach to both is key to ensuring they complement each other in a way that generates the most valuable results.
Reporting v. Analysis: Definitions and Applications
Reporting is simply a way of providing information about what’s happening in your business. Well-structured reports enable team members to quickly digest key performance metrics. They can identify areas requiring additional attention. Good reports enable you to ask the right questions about your business.
Analysis, on the other hand, helps you answer those questions. It enables a deeper dig into your data to understand the drivers behind performance metrics. Reporting provides a 30,000-foot view of set metrics. Analysis is flexible and gets deep into the weeds to uncover valuable insights.
Time Dedications: Reporting takes time. Many companies allocate the first few days of their month and first few weeks of their quarter for many of their employees to assemble reports. We have customers who easily spend thousands of hours each year compiling data in Excel. They worry over lining up columns and rows perfectly to generate all their reports.
Analysis requires more energy than time. Successful analysis warrants an exhaustive dig through data to find hidden opportunities. It requires the motivation to find hidden gems. This too takes time but is significantly more valuable than reporting. The process can also be sped up with access to the right company data, especially if it’s supported by in-depth reporting.
The challenge is a classic conflict of the urgent versus the important. Reports are urgent; the business needs them on a certain schedule, and they must get produced accordingly. Analysis is important, but it often involves going the extra mile to find the hidden insights. There’s rarely the same urgency to perform analysis on similar deadlines. Without careful planning, reporting often crowds out analysis. Even more dangerous, often businesses confuse reporting for analysis, and vice-versa.
Reporting is urgent, but analysis is important. They must work together for a profitable business.
How do you avoid letting the demand for reporting minimize the time for analysis? The answer lies in automation. Reports should provide the same information in the same format every month, week, or day. Automating standard reports is the surest way to free time to focus on analysis.
Fear Factors: Let’s be honest – reporting isn’t scary. It’s frustrating, time-consuming, and boring, yes, but there’s little fear involved. If you spend ten hours working on a report, the report gets finished. It’s a safe way to spend your time – you have something to show for it at the end of the day.
Analysis, on the other hand, is scary. It requires innovative thought and anticipation of future outcomes. Analysts must have confidence to strive for change and innovation and dedication to creating impact. If you spend ten hours on analysis, there’s no guarantee you will have an answer.
Companies are busy and often pressured into constant action. Therefore, they trend toward the easy and familiar way out with reporting. This means they spend time churning out sales report after sales report. They’re aren’t actually analyzing what’s going on and learning how to make a difference within the company.
Moreover, we often encounter analysis teams that are reluctant to automate reporting. They believe reports create job security for them. However, if you’re constantly finding opportunities for better business performance, you’re much more valuable than an analyst who merely churns out reports every month.
Reporting V. Analysis: Equally Powerful Processes
Reporting raises questions. Analysis answers them. Both are valuable, and you can’t have one without the other. However, businesses get the most of out of these processes when they are integrated.
This may sound like common sense (and it is), but we often encounter companies that fail to apply this basic principle. They adopt powerful analytical platforms but use independent processes to generate standard reports for the business. They’re often reluctant to change their familiar reporting format.
Reporting raises questions. Analysis answers them. You can’t have one without the other.
Inevitably, this makes answering questions difficult. Analysis cannot readily start where reporting ends. In some cases, the analysis may even be working from a different database, making it difficult or impossible to tie results. An integrated system for reporting and analysis eliminates this obstacle. It enables analysis and reporting to work together seamlessly.
Now wouldn’t it be great if someone else did the reporting and analysis? Well, we can help out it both instances. Contact us today and find out…