“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 must follow the decision

March 1, 2023

Action must follow the decision When I work with my clients on their projects (whether […]

Everything should be focused on improving user adoption

February 22, 2023

Everything should be focused on improving user adoption Your AMS is a tool, and a […]

Needs change over time, and that’s OK

February 15, 2023

Needs change over time, and that’s OK I was speaking with a couple of association […]

The vaguer the question, the vaguer the answer

February 9, 2023

The vaguer the question, the vaguer the answer As the old saying goes, the devil […]

The best choice given the information you have

February 2, 2023

The best choice given the information you have “Hindsight is 20/20” is a cliché because, […]

Action isn’t the same as progress

January 25, 2023

Action isn’t the same as progress I’ve written before that not taking action is an […]

Start with the end in mind

January 18, 2023

Start with the end in mind Like so many, I probably first heard the phrase […]

It’s quiet in here…maybe TOO quiet…

January 11, 2023

It’s quiet in here…maybe TOO quiet… One of the truisms of data management is that […]

It’s ALWAYS about expectations

January 4, 2023

It’s ALWAYS about expectations The headline reads: “Tesla sets record for vehicle deliveries, an increase […]

It’s hard to get UNangry

December 14, 2022

It’s hard to get UNangry I often emphasize to my clients the importance of testing […]

Scroll to Top