A Friend’s Advice for Surviving Reporting

Like most of New York right now, I am currently snowed in. While everyone is waiting for the next chapter of my Adventures in Speech Analytics series, I thought it would be nice to share some friendly advice for surviving reporting.  While I specialize in Speech Analytics, I feel a majority of these tips are useful for anyone involved in the world of report writing.

A friend’s job is to listen to you vent about your problems, be the voice of reason when you are about to make an unnecessary large purchase and give you advice that 75% of the time you will not bother to listen to. With that being said, I hope my friendly advice will fall into that 25% category.

Let’s start with:

  • Keep your data organized: There are 2 kinds of people- those who thrive in “organized chaos” and everyone else. If you spend enough time in Excel you may feel like you are buried beneath an avalanche of tables and charts. Label your columns clearly, color code cells and pivot your data when possible. If you have numbers all over the place you are making it more difficult by increasing your chances of having incorrect data. If you are tasked with a one-time report you need to give it the same respect you would to an ongoing report. You should be able to easily explain how the report works to others.
  • Embrace your other “friends” in Reporting: Thanks to major advancements in Speech Analytics technology, many SA applications offer beautiful and easy methods to use reporting tools that can be run within the application. There is more to Speech Analytics software than ad-hoc searches.  Don’t be afraid to tinker around and test the limits of what your software can do for you. Consider speaking with your SA software account manager to see how they can work with your SA program’s reporting needs- you would be surprised at how many options they have out there that could work perfectly for you.
  • Pivot! Pivot! Pivot! : Pivot tables and charts are one of my favorite ways to display data. They look sleek and are fairly easy to update. Also, get familiar with one of Pivot’s fancy accessories known as Slicers. I have found there are many people who are unfamiliar with them- FIX THAT. Slicers and Pivot go together like peanut butter and jelly- especially when you have many different categories of data you are reporting on. Slicers are one of the classiest ways to get your audience to interact and engage with the report you have worked so hard to put together.
  • Always Remember the KISS principle: KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple sweetie”. Make this your mantra each and every time you create a new report for someone. As I stated earlier you need to keep your data organized, but it is also very important to keep your data simple to read and maintain as well. Don’t make things more complicated as you already have PLENTY of things to worry about at work.
  • It’s OK to be a Work In Progress: One of my hobbies is drawing. I draw every day because my brain needs to be soothed with detailed strokes of a pen against paper. In art, the more you practice the better you become. I draw much differently today than I did as a child. Now think about the first report you ever built. It probably looked less sophisticated compared to what you can create now. Report writing is a necessary chore to deliver important information to others in an organized and digestible format. Take the time to look past the numbers and charts and look at your abilities to build reports as an art form. Take Excel refresher courses (Groupon offers various online programs at steep discounts.) Share your knowledge with others and be open to learning other people’s tricks of the trade. Always be open to some sort of learning even if you think you are one of the best of the best. Chances are there is always a little something left for you to learn.

Please feel free to share any advice you may have on how to survive reporting in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

By:  Diana Aviles, Operations Manager, Speech Analytics at BPA Quality