Join Robin Hunt for an in-depth discussion in this video Data in a workflow, part of Learning Data Analytics.
- An analyst with a trained data lens can see data in a workflow but this is best done through workflow diagrams. I really love how SmartDraw defines workflow diagrams. It's pretty succinct. To fix a series of actions that define the work and how it should be done. Also you can see it includes people or computers. Workflow diagrams are one of the best sources to see data. The more you look at the diagram, the more data you can see pop off of it if you're using your data lens.
I can't stress this enough. If you want to improve a process and create better data reports from existing ones, then a diagram needs to exist. If not, just create it and be sure to get it approved. A well-documented workflow will allow you to be the most effective. And again, you'll be able to pull the data straight off the images. Let's actually see a workflow in action with something simple like creating a Google account. Now you can easily see what data they're asking for to create your account.
Always ask yourself when you're working through your workflow, is there a data point at this step? Also remember that even though some fields are different, they can share some of the same information. For example, when we accept the terms and agreement, the acceptance state and the creation of the account date could technically be the same thing. Then the final step to the user is the account is created. But don't let this confuse you. Just because it's the final step for the user doesn't always mean it's the final thing for the process.
Let's take another look at a different diagram with some basic steps. In this simple workflow, you see that a new user places an order. They get it approved. Accounting gets notified. The user gets notified. And then it goes to the next step. At each step in the process, ask yourself: where is the data collected? By whom? And where is it stored? Once the payment is approved, you can see that accounting is notified and the user is too.
I would ask, how are they notified? What system or person does this actually come from? Just remember, when you start asking questions, it might reveal the answers. So it's really okay to ask questions. Data will flow just like the diagram, and if it doesn't, you'll need to make sure that it does. Remember, it's important to understand the process to understand where the data is or isn't.