Municipalities across the country are gaining access to data. This can come from many sources including internal and external data sources. Mining data can help measure progress and support reporting mechanisms to demonstrate how they are performing.
If your department or agency is trending this way, understanding the raw data will help you assess how the information eventually translates to added value for your community. A department measuring the wrong aspects of its business processes may face surprises when the results of an initiative don’t match the expectations.
There are several steps involved with utilizing data for added value. The relevant raw data must be analyzed through reporting tools that provide a clear understanding of the data. From that analysis, you create an action plan that allows the community to change its process and assess the value to the community. The steps become cyclical, as each resulting action is then evaluated through the mining of data for reporting and analysis and translated into new actions you can assess the effectiveness of the actions.
Here’s what you need to know to take raw data and take it to its completion to add value:
- Make sure you are collecting the data you need. Determine what needs to be measured, and find out whether the data you are collecting enables you to measure the performance you are monitoring. It’s also important to find out whether your system allows you to easily collect additional types of data as you change and adapt the data you are measuring.
- Extract the data. First, find out whether your data can be accessed in common forms. Also, can the data be manipulated in a way that supports the analysis you need to perform? In evaluating your reporting capabilities, determine whether you can extract major sets of data and perform exports to another program without slowing down other users in the system.
- Translate the data into information that can be shared. Find out whether the staff and managers can easily access the periodic operational reports necessary to do their jobs. You should also determine whether they run the reports themselves or if they automatically are posted to email or to a web page. Ask your staff if the software interface for report generation is user-friendly and whether the reports are accurately presented in a way that is easy to read and analyze. Staff should also be confident that the data they are seeing on reports is consistent across departments.
- Analyze the data. It’s important to find out whether managers and technical staff have access to tools that help them explore data in meaningful ways to answer specific questions. Managers should also have adequate training and skills to perform the analysis of the reports, as well as data analysis tools that are flexible and user-friendly.
It’s also important to determine how data from various departments is shared, whether there are data silos, and whether data from various departments can be compiled into multi-faceted reports, special projects or year-end analysis.
- Form recommendations based on the analysis. These recommendations will be presented to decision-makers, so the analysis must be presented in a visually-pleasing and easily understood way. In this step the flexibility of your software system in offering a variety of presentation options is a valuable feature.
- Determine your action plan and commence implementation.
- Repeat the process, beginning at Step 1. With each new action, you’ll begin anew with pulling data from your system and analyzing it, allowing you to keep refining your processes and demonstrating the value of your work.
Comcate cares about the path from data to actions to creating value. These steps allow agencies to form a framework for understanding how your data and reports created from the software serve your analysis needs.
To learn more about how to use Comcate tools for navigating your path from raw data to value, give Comcate a call. Whether you’re an established Comcate client or you’re just beginning to look around at reporting capabilities of software, there are opportunities to improve your processes and add value to your programs.