Oh No! Not another set of charts ...

That must have been the regular cry in the office.  Reports needed to be produced on a regular basis, with charts that involved some fairly complicated calculations – demographic data and benchmarks and all that sort of thing.

Originally, this was done largely by hand.  The data sat in several databases, and was extracted, filtered, pivoted and everything else that was necessary to get it ready to feed into a chart.  When the chart was ready, it was pasted into the report.

Now, the data is all in one place, and there is a single front-end, which allows the necessary criteria to be set.  Once these selections have been made (locations, benchmarks, which dataset to use, and so on)  you click a button and go and make coffee.  Actually, you haven’t really got time to make coffee as the process takes just a couple of minutes.

In this instance, twelve sets of queries are run; sometimes one query, sometimes several to generate the data.  Then each set of data is exported into an Excel workbook.  It goes into pre-defined locations, and the workbook is based on a template, so that everything needed to generate the charts (except the data) is already there.

I’m jumping the gun slightly here, because this development isn’t quite ready, but it’s nearly there.  I’m excited about it, because it is probably the biggest win that I have had so far in trying to save time and money.  Imagine the data assembly job alone – even when you know what you are doing some of the datasets would take a fair while to put together.  Multiply that by twelve, and it must take several hours on average to get these twelve graphs prepared.

Say it was half a day of someone’s time, at the average salary of £26,000 – that’s a cost of around £60 to the business for each report, or £5 per chart.  Each and every time.

If there was one report a week, that’s going to be £3,000 every year – more likely a lot more than that.  If it now takes 30 minutes to do the whole job, that’s a total of just over 4 days for the whole year’s worth (at one report a week).  The four days will cost under £500.  So you get to keep £2,500 to do something else with.

What would you like to do with it?

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