“We run the report three times and get three different results.”

"We run the report three times and get three different results."

"We run the same report three times and get different results."

In my 21 years of consulting, I've probably heard this (or something similar) dozens, if not hundreds, of times.

What the user is usually saying is that when they run two different reports or queries that are called the same thing (e.g., "All Members"), the result set is different. The perception is that the data is bad or the software has a bug. But what's really happening is they are running two different reports, with different selection criteria behind it. While both reports are labeled "All Members," they are actually using different criteria, and thus getting different results.

This problem is widespread among associations of all sizes. The challenge is twofold:

  1. We need our queries and reports to be completely transparent. It has to be absolutely clear to the user what data the report is looking at and outputting.
  2. The "catalog" of reports and queries needs to be curated and cleaned up consistently and frequently.

As data managers, we need to be better at both of these things.

A timeless challenge of data management is the perception that the system or the data (or both!) is bad. When staff believes that running the same report three times produces different results, you've got a BIG problem on your hands. You have to work at keeping your queries and reports as clean as the data itself.

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

Data is for action

June 22, 2022

Data is for action When deciding whether or not to collect a piece of data, …

Data is for action Read More »

Have you shopped yourself?

June 15, 2022

Have you shopped yourself? I’ve always been fascinated by the “secret shopper” concept. (Maybe it’s …

Have you shopped yourself? Read More »

To improve adoption, decrease the friction

June 1, 2022

To improve adoption, decrease the friction “Before you try to increase your willpower, try to …

To improve adoption, decrease the friction Read More »

“Is this normal?”

May 25, 2022

“Is this normal?” ne of the greatest parts about my job is that I get …

“Is this normal?” Read More »

Give your staff more freedom, not less

May 18, 2022

Give your staff more freedom, not less I often tell my clients, when it comes …

Give your staff more freedom, not less Read More »

My advice? Stop doing that

May 11, 2022

My advice? Stop doing that! There is a classic TV sketch featuring Bob Newhart as …

My advice? Stop doing that Read More »

Is a college degree really required?

May 4, 2022

Is a college degree really required? I saw a job listing last week for an …

Is a college degree really required? Read More »

Small actions become big wins

April 27, 2022

Small actions become big wins I’ve written before about how data accretes, the idea that …

Small actions become big wins Read More »

Try not to OFFEND your members…

April 20, 2022

Try not to OFFEND your members… I recently received an email from an association where I’ve …

Try not to OFFEND your members… Read More »

How will you use that data?

April 6, 2022

How will you use that data? One of the beauties of technology today is how easy …

How will you use that data? Read More »

Scroll to Top