Thursday, February 22, 2007

Useless reports and GIGO

I got pulled into a couple of meetings today. Both meetings involved doing some analysis of data submitted to me. Both results/reports had problems, per the reason for the meetings. I will talk about one of them as it is more specific to the point.


A person (the manager) entered information through Excel. I sorted and categorized the information based on unique identifiers in one of the columns. The meeting started off with why does this report have 4 different numbers and identifiers for 'XYZ'? I should have merged together the 'X YZ', the 'XZY' (typo), and the 'X Y Z' identifiers together to get one correct number, this report is of no use, and where did I get this information?


I tried to explain that this was the information that person entered in Excel. I then went forward to offer a couple of options on enumerated/listed identifiers so that they would be consistent. "But I do it this way because I can [enter uber entry technique process] it very fast". That is good...but why are we having this meeting? "Because the report is useless".


The sooner you can control the input process of data, the better for everyone. I am looking for comments and suggestions to help control scenarios like this that do not involve nerf bats that have a big 'GIGO' label on it.

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