Reporting and Analytics: A Sad Story of Cold Pizza

It’s 3.30 p.m., you’re sat in a meeting with your management peers and your CIO. You’ve been asked to pull together an IT Ops report for Service Desk trends in the past 12 months for an 8 a.m. meeting tomorrow morning.

4.00 p.m., back at your desk, you ask your reporting specialists for help but they’re on a deadline themselves so the best they can do is a data dump.

4.30 p.m., you receive a spreadsheet with multiple tabs for multiple data sources. You roll up your sleeves, this could take a while.

5.30 p.m., great! You’ve managed to create a bar chart of major incidents from one dataset. But how do you map that on top of all incidents from tab 6?

6.00 p.m., still trying to figure it out. You order pizza, it’s going to be a long night.

7.30 p.m., you’ve handcrafted a trend line and overlaid it on your chart – brilliant. Pizza has arrived!

7.35 p.m., you need to cross reference datasets from sources 3 and 5 and to show the correlation between all requests and aging requests – what’s the lookup calculation!? You find yourself running around the building trying to find someone… anyone that is a whizz at excel formulas.

7.45 p.m., no joy; start mapping the data by hand.

9.00 p.m., your laptop seems to be running slower. The fan has got louder. You cross your fingers, hit save and pray to the spreadsheet gods.

10.00 p.m., OK we have some graphs, they aren’t pretty, the labels for the emergency change graph isn’t displaying and it no longer links to the original data source, but it’s done!

11.00 p.m., graphs cut and pasted into a presentation. You switch off the lights and head for home. Pizza’s gone cold.

Midnight, kids are in bed, dog has his legs crossed waiting for a walk, you have to be up in a few hours to brief your team before the meeting.

7.55a.m., head for a meeting with report printouts, pass the data specialists eating your cold pizza.

8.30a.m., the report is a hit! But wait, you need to what – take the trend graph between July and October and drill down on the data to each record that caused the peaks!

9.00a.m., back at your desk trying to remember what you did last night.

9.15a.m., give up, start from scratch. Thinking about tonight’s pizza toppings. It’s going to be a long day.

Somewhere along the line as our IT data sets have become more complicated the reporting tools we use are no longer meeting our requirements and, in many cases, spreadsheets have become the most widely used reporting tool in organizations. It’s not uncommon to see people huddle round a spreadsheet, labouring over column B1:R5 to find out that one single piece of data. Yet they can be the most soul-destroying, time-consuming, inefficient and painful way to spend an evening. And I bet if you looked out your office or over the cubicle wall, another IT team is trying to do the same thing. If that isn’t food for thought, think about whether data integrity has been compromised through this manual work. There was an article in Forbes titled Microsoft Excel Might be the Most Dangerous Software on the Planet, describing the risk and financial costs of excel spreadsheet used in the financial industry – all of the points apply.

But, what if you you could easily report on ITSM process trends, ITAM computer warranty titles expiring in six months, compliance to computer standards or anything else that you need without help and be able to  refresh those datapoints automatically, drill down as you discuss the data in meetings – why wouldn’t you?

It’s possible today, here and now.

XtractionPizzaStory

Want to know how? View the recording of our recent Xtraction webinar here.

Let’s make 2016 the year you aren’t stuck in the office afterhours with just you a spreadsheet and a cold pizza for company.