Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
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is the amount and type of data to record in the worksheet: recording too much data
can lead to wasted effort and neglect of other important activities, and recording too
little data can lead to overlooking important business issues.
What advice can we provide our businessperson that might make their efforts
in collecting, assembling, and recording data more useful and efficient? Below I
provide a number of guidelines that can make the process of planning for a data
collection effort straightforward.
2.3.1 Data Preparation Advice
1. Not all data are created equal —Spend some time and effort considering the
category of data (nominal, ratio, etc.) that you will collect and how you will use
it. Do you have choices in the categorical type of data you can collect? How will
you use the data in analysis and presentation?
2. More is better —If you are uncertain of the specific dimensions of a data observa-
tion that you will need for analysis, err on the side of recording a greater number
of dimensions (more information on the context). It is easier not to use collected
data than to add the un-collected data later. Adding data later can be costly and
assumes that you will be able to locate it, which may be difficult or impossible.
3. More is not better —If you can communicate what you need to communicate
with less data, then by all means do so. Bloated databases can lead to distractions
and misunderstanding. With new computer memory technology the cost of data
storage is declining rapidly, but there is still a cost to data entry, storage, and of
archiving records for long periods of time.
4. Keep it simple and columnar —Select a simple, unique title for each data dimen-
sion or field (e.g. Revenue, Address, etc.) and record the data in a column, with
each row representing a record, or observation, of recorded data. Each column
or field represents a different dimension of the data. Table 2.2 is a good example
of columnar data entry for seven data fields.
5. Comments are useful —It may be wise to place a miscellaneous dimension or
field reserved for written observations—a comment field . Be careful, because of
their unique nature, comments are often difficult, if not impossible, to query via
structured database query languages. Try to pick key words for entry ( overdue ,
lost sale , etc.) if you plan to later query the field.
6. Consistency in category titles —Although you may not consider a significant dif-
ference between the category titles Deposit and $Deposit , Excel will view them
as completely distinct field titles. Excel is not capable of understanding that the
terms may be synonymous in your mind.
Let’s examine Table 2.2 in light of the data preparation advice we have just received.
But first, let’s take a look at a typical invoice and the data that it might con-
tain. Exhibit 2.1 shows an invoice for office supply items purchased at Hamm
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