Follow the List

Yesterday I compiled the Excel newsgroup statistics for September, a monthly task that entertains me, even if no one else reads them. Actually, the page gets a few hundred hits every month, so I guess a few other people find the numbers interesting too. Or maybe it’s one other person, with OCD.
Pulling the report together isn’t too complicated, but there’s a long series of steps involved — export messages from Agent, import to Access using QDN Stats, export totals from Access as HTML files, publish in Dreamweaver.

Use a Checklist

I have a checklist in Excel, and I print that, and follow it every month. Without that list, the process would take at least twice as long, because I’d have to think about every step, and probably miss a few.

Maybe the list is too detailed, but I’d rather include the seemingly obvious items, just in case someone else had to cover for me one month. (If you’d like to volunteer, please leave your name at the front desk.)
I have a few other checklists for things that I do occasionally, and they’re real time savers. Most of the lists are stored in Excel, so they’re easy to sort and edit, and make nice little check boxes beside the items.

Check It Or Wing It?

Do you use checklists, or is your memory better than mine, and you just wing it?
Could someone cover for you, and get all your key tasks done, or is your business on hold if you’re away?

Hey Kids — Create a 3D Pie Chart

Children around the world can learn how to make shiny 3D pie charts, thanks to the Create a Graph page on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) web site. The NCES is part of the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences, and collects and analyzes data related to education.
The Create a Graph page has a charting tutorial, and advice on selecting a chart type. Unfortunately, the sample charts are heavy on the 3D effects, such as the ones shown below.


The Create a Chart page is part of the NCES Kids’ Zone. When you’re tired of making fancy charts, you can try some of the other tools, such as Mind Benders, Word of the Day, or Dare to Compare, where you can test your knowledge against that of grade school students. I’m proud to announce that I got all the Grade 4 math questions right.

What Business Can Learn From Baseball

In Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, author Michael Lewis details how Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane, used statistical data to create a winning team on a small payroll.
In 2007, NetSuite invited Billy Beane onto their board of directors, and have improved their sales process by using his data analysis techniques. In the GigaOM blog, Carleen Hawn outlines their five tips for “managing by the numbers.”

  1. Just start measuring it.
  2. Reduce the number of systems you use.
  3. No such thing as a wrong metric.
  4. Consistency is king.
  5. Trust your data.