“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

Action is required

October 18, 2023

Action is required Over my many years of consulting, one thing I’ve noticed about many associations […]

Some data analytics tips from the DAN “Science Fair”

October 11, 2023

Some data analytics tips from the DAN “Science Fair” Last week I had the opportunity […]

Are all your processes frictionless?

October 4, 2023

Are all your processes frictionless? I’m not a huge fan of buzzwords, but I love […]

Trends don’t need perfect data

September 27, 2023

Trends don’t need perfect data When it comes to analyzing data trends (changes in data […]

Start with “Why” before you move to “How”

September 20, 2023

Start with “Why” before you move to “How” Something I’ve noticed over my years in […]

The power of users groups!

September 13, 2023

The power of users groups! Last week I had the honor and pleasure of speaking […]

Associations are complex businesses!

September 6, 2023

Associations are complex businesses! One of the reasons managing data at an association can be so […]

Snapshots are required

August 30, 2023

Snapshots are required Recently a couple of different clients have asked me why it’s necessary […]

“It’s in the database…”

August 16, 2023

“It’s in the database…” I often joke with my clients that AMS nirvana looks like […]

Using the Pomodoro Technique for data management

August 9, 2023

Using the Pomodoro Technique for data management I’m a huge fan of the Pomodoro Technique, […]

Scroll to Top