Data Request Process

I like to think about data, but more importantly, I like to think about processes and getting stuff done. The reason we build reports is not to show off artful Python and SQL scripts. It is to inform business decisions. It is to get things done.

At its core, reports are not artful ways of arranging data. Reports do things with data for people.

But I think that many times data professionals don't focus on what the report is trying to do, and what people it is trying to serve. I think that report request processes work best when they help identify what the report's telos is, and what people will be involved in its deployment.

I hope that my philosophy around report development. as well as the example report request portal below, helps you better how you deliver reports to people.

Three Goals of a Report Request Process

In my mind, a good report request process should

Orient The Data Analyst To Processes

Reports don't return data. Reports do things. They live within processes and help inform decisions. A data analyst needs to know how the report will be used if they are going to create a usable report.

Force The Customer to Soul-Search

Customers do not always know what they want. A report request form can be a way to help the customer themselves identify what they truly need from their reports. I think the best report request process is a guided meditation on the data, allowing the requestor to ponder what they hope to achieve from the report. Customer's don't want data elements, they want to do things with data. A great report request process will help them figure out exactly what they want to do, which they might not even know.

Identify Stakeholders

Because reports live inside of processes, and processes have multiple stakeholders, a report request form should help you identify all of the different parties who may require consultation in developing a report. Remember, reports do things for people, and you can't get a report to do what it has to do if you don't know the people it's serving.

Report Request Portal

Requestor Information


Report Information

What is the purpose of the report?

Who will use the report?

What current process will this augment or replace?

Where does the data come from?

Does the report need to be interactive? If so, why?