dataBig data is all the rage, but are we using our “local” data to our best advantage?

Let’s call “local data” the raw data you generate in your work place; like your KPI results, breakdown and maintenance print outs and various quality logs.

What do you do with it?

If you use it correctly you can maximise your business performance. You need to:

  • Turn the data into useable information
  • Act on that information to improve your performance
  1. Turn the data into useable information

Data analysis is the conversion of raw data e.g. print outs, KPI numbers etc. into easily understood information that can then be used to drive action.

Most forms of data analysis result in a chart, graph or data trail being produced,

Try this exercise to understand why we convert raw data to a chart.

How quickly can you identify; the highest, the lowest and the repeated number from the following list? Time yourself.


Now try the same test with the following data. How quickly can you identify; the highest, the lowest and the repeated number? Check both your answers at the bottom of the post




I bet you were quickest interpreting the chart? And if you got an answer wrong it was on the list test?

Why is that?

The chart is easier and quicker to interpret accurately.

This is because the data in the chart is arranged in ascending order and colour has been used to highlight the area of interest. But what is it really doing for us?

If we add other relevant information to the chart we start to turn the data into useable information. In this standard grid format we have added:

  • Titles to the top and the axes for context.
  • A target line to place the level of performance.
  • A data source box to aid validation and future comparative analysis.

And at the bottom of the grid:

  • A comment – which sums up what the chart is telling us
  • An action – which brings us to the 2nd thing we must do with our data
  1. Act on that information to improve your performance

The action tells us what needs to be done next. This may be an immediate response to ensure daily performance targets are achieved, or it may be more data collection, further analysis or a focussed improvement action.

It is vital that each piece of data analysis done drives an action. If no action is taken all you have done is create expensive wallpaper!

Tip: Display the information and actions on clear visual display boards. Locate these as close as possible to the relevant workplace.

  • Use them as a central point for communication meetings and briefings between managers, team leaders and teams.
  • Their use raises awareness and helps involve everybody in working towards a common goal.
  • It focuses action by using facts instead of allowing “who shouts loudest” to win.


Have a look at the data you have in your workplace.

  • Is it turned into useful information?
  • Do you act on that information to make improvements?

If you don’t, challenge yourself to make your data count.


Answer A lowest 12, highest 47, repeated 25.

Answer B lowest 13, highest 45, repeated 29.