Powerpoint slides, Word docs, or PDF reports with the click of a button

Remove the need to manually produce any report with RMarkdown

Leadership wants multiple reports on a recurring schedule (monthly, quarterly, annually), on top of ad-hoc reporting and dashboard development. Not to mention all the report formatting must be the same, the reports must be polished and clean, and it all needs to be reproducible in case someone challenges the numbers.

Traditionally, this would require lots of manual work to create these reports. Data must be collected, stored, analyzed, and presented in a compelling fashion. Analysts must spend hours creating pivot tables, copy/pasting charts, and aligning the text in slides. Then, someone has a question about how a specific metric was calculated – but the Excel file used to create it is missing. Nobody knows how that number was reached, so the entire calculation needs to be redone.

Thanks to the power of RStudio and Markdown, there’s a better way to go about all this. 

R Markdown is a powerful tool that combines R and Python with Markdown (a language for creating formatted text documents). You can write scripts using your preferred language to produce high-quality, custom reports. The output can be various file types: Powerpoint slides, Word documents, PDFs, HTML files, and even websites.

There are many benefits to converting any manual reporting process to an automated script:

  1. Reproducibility of calculations – every step taken to reach a calculation is documented in the script, so it is easy to trace back any errors or reproduce findings
  2. Styles and chart formatting can be shared for all reports – remove the need to align formatting between different reporting areas
  3. A large number of different reports can be produced en-masse – parameterized reporting allows reports to change data sources, adjust periods, or mass produce various reports


Case Study

See below for a case study on a Markdown solution we implemented, followed by a summary of this project’s main takeaways and benefits.

Goal

Create an end-to-end solution to produce parameterized reports from Qualtrics survey data using Azure, R, and NVivo.

Current Reporting Issues

Creating highly customized reports can be a painstaking manual process. Analysts spend hours copying and pasting screenshots of pivot tables, charts, and ad-hoc analyses. Then all the items need to be formatted and aligned correctly, a thankless task necessary for producing high-quality reports.

One of the most significant issues with report production is the reproducibility of specific calculations when numbers are questioned. Confirming a calculation can be difficult if the data was updated or changed. Any requested change needs to be manually applied to each file, which can be troublesome if the reports have already been produced. Tracing through endless spreadsheets until the correct chart is found can significantly drain efficiency.

Specific Needs

In this case study, a global analytics team was interested in implementing a reporting solution that was fully automated and highly customized. Reports needed to be generated for specific areas of the organization, which were then distributed to leadership and other relevant stakeholders. Survey data needed to be loaded from Qualtrics, enriched with internal employee data, and displayed in an anonymized format. Qualitative data (free text questions) needed to be categorized, cleansed, and displayed in an easy-to-read layout. 

Solution

Due to these constraints, our team recommended: Azure for cloud data warehousing, R for its Markdown capabilities, and Nvivo for natural language processing.

This solution enabled one analyst to produce the same amount of content that previously took weeks in just a few minutes. 

All reports were highly customized – with 10+ pages of automated text, visuals, and other insights. Applying additional changes required only one click, and validating all calculations became an effortless task.

Another great benefit of the implementation was gathering historical views of survey responses over time, segmented in ways that were not possible before. New insights could be inferred from proper storage and enrichment of the data, allowing the analytics team to produce highly valuable reports for leadership teams.


Curious about automated analytics & reporting? Please contact info@databenderconsulting.com for more detailed information or questions about how a solution like that can apply to your organization.

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