More data, shorter reports: three ways to respond

We have access to more data but are delivering shorter reports.

Something has to change, right?

More data shorter reports equals more data waste cartoon by Chris Lysy
Before we get into today’s post.  If you missed my webinar, it’s now up for anyone to watch.  A big thanks to AEA for sending it to me so I could post for all of you.

More Data

From site analytics to large public databases, we have access to more data.  Much of it just sits there, wasting away.

This data can be useful, you just need to know how to find, analyze and present.

Pageview analytics cartoon by Chris Lysy

Shorter Reports

In some type of strange twist, as the amount of available data is going up, demand for shorter reports is also going up.

The attention spans of stakeholders and clients are hitting new lows and we have more to tell them.  How do we respond?

700 character report cartoon by Chris Lysy

1. Do nothing

If a client makes a hard request, you’ll adapt for that client. But what about the other times?

Not changing is the easiest response.  Probably not the best, but it is the easiest.

Standard dissemination plan by Chris Lysy

2. Increase your efficiency

This is one of the big reasons for the rise in popularity of data visualization.  If we can present data more efficiently we can reach our audience quicker, and often more effectively.

Efficiency is also about tailoring an analysis for a specific audience.  You want the reader to think it was easy, even when it’s often not.

Simple is an illusion cartoon by Chris Lysy

3. Write more reports

This goes hand in hand with efficiency.

Don’t just write one 200 page report.  Write one 60 page report, two 30 page reports, five 10 page reports, ten 5 page reports, and twenty one pagers.  Each with a different purpose, tailored for different audiences and delivered not just in one burst but throughout the year.

Just for me report cartoon by Chris Lysy

What are your thoughts?

Do you have access to more data?  Have you been changing your reports?  What’s the biggest challenge  Let me know with a comment.


  1. Anne Heberger Marino on August 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for this, Chris, and your webinar. A 4th option could be partnering with others (e.g. journalists, copy writers)to help craft communications for different audiences. We can get news, music and TV how we want it, when we want it. Increasingly people will expect this of evaluation professionals, too.

    • Chris Lysy on August 14, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for the comment Anne! This new digital world is all about collaboration and partnerships.