This is part of a series on Strategic Data Analysis.
Strategic Data Analysis (Part 1)
Strategic Data Analysis for Descriptive Questions (Part 2) ← You are here
Strategic Data Analysis for Diagnostic Questions (Part 3) ← Coming soon!
Strategic Data Analysis for Predictive Questions (Part 4) ← Coming soon!
Strategic Data Analysis for Prescriptive Questions (Part 5) ← Coming soon!
In Part 1, I discussed the four types of questions that data analysts attempt to answer and ways to identify each question type. If you recall, when we ask descriptive questions, we attempt to acquire an understanding of something. These questions generally start with “what/is/does” and pertain to the current or past tense. Now, let’s dive into detail of the strategy on how to answer these questions.
Descriptive questions tend to come up the most for data analysts and their answers tend to provide a foundation for follow up questions. Typically, seasoned analysts already have a strategy (or at least some guidelines) that they use in order to answer descriptive questions. A more specific strategy differs based on the question, industry, personal preferences and knowledge, etc. However, the skeleton for any strategy should include the following:
- Assessing the intent of the question
- Identifying the variables in question
- Defining the analytical goal of the question
These steps should guide you in choosing the best methodology and providing the most appropriate answer. Let’s take a deeper look.
Step 1: Assess the intent of the question
Before applying any technique to answer the question posited by the decision-maker, we must first understand why the question is being asked. This can significantly influence our strategy and the final approach that we choose. Some of the considerations within the intent include: