We’ve all heard the cliché “numbers don’t lie.” But numbers alone also tell few truths (unless you’re a mathematician). To make good decisions based on data, managers and executives need more than numbers. Analytics and reporting software can help you create meaningful, actionable reports from raw data.

In the era of “Big Data,” it is more important than ever for organizations to be able to interpret the meaning of data and communicate its significance to key decision-makers, according to an article on SmartPlanet.com. Business intelligence and analytics tools can generate a variety of graphs and charts, but don’t overlook basic communication goals and information design when using them.

  1. Use analytics software to make good choices. Creating compelling and actionable reports requires making good choices. Good analytics software should make it easy for an executive or an employee to quickly transform complex data into a variety of charts and graphs and then choose the most effective representations.
  2. Engage with strong information design. You’ve compiled the important data and created charts, graphs and other visuals that illustrate key trends. Now, consider your report’s overall structure, flow and presentation. Incorporating a table of contents, for example, can help organize your thoughts, simplify navigation, and provide readers with an at-a-glance overview.
  3. Tailor your message to your audience. Analytics software offers plenty of bells and whistles, but be sure not to overlook communication basics. Define your core message and consider summarizing it in a single sentence. Focus on the composition and needs of your audience. Then, choose a suitable report format. Depending on the context, your message could come through best in a PDF document emailed to executives or perhaps in a PowerPoint presentation for coworkers.

Managers and executives need meaningful, actionable reports to make good data-driven decisions. Analytics and accounting reporting software offer powerful tools for interpreting data, especially when combined with sound communication strategies and information design. Perhaps your first project could be mining expense data from your expense report software to understand the true cost of sales.

What tips do you have for making data meaningful? Share your thoughts with us!

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