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4 Ways You Can Improve Your Data Reporting


For the 21st century business owner, it’s no longer enough to have access to data – you also need to understand your data and be capable of communicating insights to the right people at the right time.


Practical Pointers for Better Data Reporting

Within the small business world, data reporting is widely misunderstood and misapplied. The average business owner believes it’s about pulling out a couple of interesting insights and creating fancy charts and colorful tables to accompany the information. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Data reporting isn’t an offshoot of graphic design. Rather, it’s intended to be a powerful method of revealing and communicating truth.


Data reporting involves two major components. First off, it requires you to extract and interpret the correct insights from a sea of other data points. This takes skill and expertise. Secondly, it requires you to communicate these insights to the correct people in an easily digestible manner. Most business owners mess up in at least one of these two areas. Many fail on both fronts.


If you want to improve your data reporting, you have to understand what data reporting is all about and then craft a strategy that enables you to consistently generate profound insights that move the business forward. In light of this, here are a few helpful suggestions:



  • Choose the Right Data Structure


Sound data reporting starts with choosing the right data structure. There are three main types:


  • Single dataset. This is the most basic data structure and it’s composed of simple data from a single source that’s displayed in rows and columns. Because of the simplistic nature of single dataset reports, they’re very easy to interpret and require minimal explaining. 


  • Peer dataset. When you have multiple sets of non-related data that need to be displayed in the same report, a peer dataset is useful. It’s also ideal for situations where you’re unsure of the length of the dataset, but want to display them one after the other (to make it easier on the viewer).


  • Parent-child dataset. Finally, you have parent-child datasets, which help when communicating related data. Child tables are inserted into each row of the larger parent table. The ability to nestle data in this format makes it easy to show relationships. 

Different reports call for different data sets. Choose the right one and you’ll make your life a lot easier. Choose an incorrect structure and you’ll find it challenging to generate an informative and accurate report.



  • Use the Right Tools


With all of the specialized technology that exists in today’s business world, there’s no sense in trying to handle data reporting manually. With that being said, you need the correct tool for the intended data report.


For example, MySQL reporting tools can be used to help you develop robust SQL reports with powerful KPIs in a matter of minutes. Then there are specialized tools for financial reports, marketing reports, sales reports, forecasting, BI, analytics, etc. Whatever you need to report, there’s a specialized tool to help you achieve your objective. 



  • Keep it Sleek and Simple


When presenting data, you want as little text as possible. In fact, you want minimal interference in all respects. Excessive text and an overabundance of superfluous elements distract the viewer and establishes confusion. The best thing you can do is simplify your reports by focusing on succinct phrases and information-rich visuals that are easy to digest within a matter of seconds. 



  • Safeguard Your Insights


We operate in a hostile business landscape where cyber attacks and data theft is overwhelmingly common. If you aren’t careful, all of your data reporting efforts can actually lead you into trouble. Be sure you’re taking the correct measures to protect your data and keep it out of the wrong hands. The right security solutions make all the difference. 


Adding it All Up

Data reporting isn’t as simple as some would like you to think it is. It’s a complex and challenging endeavor that requires both creativity and discernment. But if you’re armed with the right understanding, you can reach the right people with the right information in a highly persuasive manner that propels your business forward.


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