Doing things the stupid way.

I was recently been tasked with creating a summary of all the little summaries I had made during the year.

We’re talking data here. Feedback from a bunch of workshops.

After each workshop i was sent a pdf of all the forms. I then entered these into a little nifty spreadsheet that I had made and refined over the past couple of years.

Only this year I got slack. I no longer cared about carefully saving the data. I simply punched it in, put it in the place where the summaries would be generated from it and saved the report that was produced. Emailed it off then didn’t think about it any more.

For some reason, I didn’t think a yearly summary was going to be required this year… but then I got the call… and it was.

As we all know, we can’t average averages. In other words, I can’t just add up the responses to the different questions for each workshop and decide by the number of workshops there were.

Instead I’d have to regenerate the raw data from the percentages and the n-numbers and then combine them all together and then reverse this to get back to percentages.

I know, I know, I have probably lost you by this point. LOOK DOWN HERE poor reader above… before you close this article.

In this process I realised that I needed a better system for generating these reports. I had know this for a while… but I saw a few errors that I hadn’t picked up on that alerted me to the fact that the reports that were sent out throughout the year (although it’s not a systematic error) did have some errors as a result of all the copying and pasting… things out of alignment.. Or changes made to the template to have raw figures instead of accurate formulars…

I had wanted to make a nifty data base for this whole process.

But, some factors got in the way of this. And instead, I did things the dumb way.

The fast (let’s say quick and dirty) way for then but the slow way for now. Definitely the steady and reliable way that takes time to implement.

Why?

I was intent on learning how to make an Access database. But the help I sought out didn’t yield solutions.. It just yielded little bits of learning but not enough to construct the working whole.

Then there was the question of money. When is the cost of making something / fashioning a better tool to get the job done – actually worth it. I guess, I was hoping that I wouldn’t be doing it for as long as I was toning to be.

I wanted to learn but getting the one-on-one tuition that this project required wasn’t affordable. However, looking back it would definitely have been money well spent. But money I didn’t have access to at the time.

As a result, I got through the frustrating experience of producing the yearly summary… thinking, man there is a better way of going about this. A smarter way but it will cost me $150 an hour to get on top of it.How many hbhours… probably 4. $600 bucks!

And doing this, having this system in place, it won’t actually save me money because I do still get paid to do things the hard way… but it will save me pain and feeling like an idiot for doing something the stupid way.

Yes, this has got me a little agitated. But I guess that’s life. And a very interesting data related question to be pondering.

I wonder whether, now that I am through this difficult yearly summary, if it is worth it for me to improve this system, to follow through and make this database… and do things properly… for this specific project.

I honestly think it will be something I consider… but the money to be made from it has gone. It is time to move on and make money from something else… maybe in the exact same skill domain but just a different setting.

Here’s hoping the opportunity for a second run at it comes my way.

Cheers

Julian