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20 Questions to Ask Prior to Starting Data Analysis


It is crucial to ask the right questions and/or understand the problem, prior to beginning data analysis. Below is a list of 20 questions you need to ask before delving into analysis:

  1. Who is the audience that will use the results from the analysis? (board members, sales people, customers, employees, etc)
  2. How will the results be used? (make business decision, invest in product category, work with a vendor, identify risks, etc)
  3. What questions will the audience have about our analysis? (ability to filter on key segments, look at data across time to identify trends, drill-down into details, etc)
  4. How should the questions be prioritized to derive the most value?
  5. Identify key stakeholders and get their input on interesting questions
  6. Who should be able to access the information? think about confidentiality/ security concerns
  7. Who will develop and maintain the report?
  8. What information will be on each report?
  9. What reports currently exist in another format? What changes might be made to existing reports?
  10. What ETLs or stored procedures need to be developed, if any?
  11. What database enhancements are required to meet reporting requirements?
  12. When will each report be delivered?
  13. What is the frequency of updates required for the data? to ensure currency
  14. Which data sources are available to work with?
  15. Do I have the required permissions or credentials to access the data necessary for analysis?
  16. What is size of each data set and how much data will I need to get from each one?
  17. How familiar am I with the underlying tables and schema in each database? Do I need to work with anyone else to understand the data structure
  18. Do I need all the data for more granular analysis, or do I need a subset to ensure faster performance?
  19. Will the data need to be standardized due to disparity?
  20. Will I need to analyze data from external sources, which resides outside of my organization’s data?




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