What Data Should You Collect?


If you’ve read our recent blog, “What is Data Analysis?”, you’ll know that data analysis is an important part of business decision making, and can make your profit margins rise. But where do you even start? If you’ve never tried to collect, store and analyse data, it can be an extremely intimidating thing!

The first thing to consider is that data use should be optimised throughout its lifecycle. If the data that you collect isn’t aligned with the output you want, you may find that many more steps are required to make the data usable. Even worse, you may find that all of the data you collected is missing something critical, and you may have to start over again to actually find out what you were looking for.

In the business of our everyday working lives, it’s easy to start collecting data with good intentions, without giving it the proper planning, and end up in this exact scenario. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you’re already thinking of how to get around this!

You should always think of the exact answers you need - whether this is deciding if a certain item is profitable, or if you should invest in a new venture. It’s also helpful to understand what is a need to know, and what is nice to know, in case there are limits on how much data you can collect. It can be helpful to categorise these answers into the benefits you get:

  • Are you trying to highlight cost savings?
  • Are you trying to prove an idea?
  • Are you trying to make a decision, based on facts?
  • Are you trying to foretell upcoming hurdles to your business?

Once you have an idea of the purpose of the data, you can then figure out what type of data is needed, i.e. numerical data that you can turn into graphs and outputs, or descriptive data, such as feedback and opinions. 

Now that you have an idea of what data to collect, we’ll look into how to collect it in the next blog. Thanks for reading!

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