While you might think pouring more and more time into your analysis is the most constructive approach to producing a quality outcome, sometimes exhausting your analysis can lead to creating more questions than answers. Analysts can often experience anxiety and indecision in their work due to the abundance of data and information available to them.
In the field of data analytics, this is referred to as analysis paralysis, a common issue that can lead to significant problems when it comes to productivity and decision making. Let’s take a closer look at analysis paralysis, identify its potential implications, and review steps on how to avoid it.
Why You Should Avoid Analysis Paralysis
Though the term sounds quite ominous on its own, you might not consider overthinking your data to be an issue at the forefront of concern. Nevertheless, there are many additional reasons to avoid analysis paralysis beyond the obvious damper to productivity.
Overthinking and overanalyzing the data to drive a decision can cause a number of problems such as:
- Slower and prolonged decision-making processes
- Draining of time and resources
- Increased mental fatigue
- Lowered creativity and performance
How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis
While every case is different in its own right, there are tactics to combat being paralyzed by your data. Here are a few strategies to help you avoid these problems and keep you moving forward in your report.
Accept that Uncertainty is Inevitable
If you’re searching for the perfect answer or the perfect data model, chances are you won’t be able to find it. While you might want to exhaust your data from every angle, it’s important to accept that there will always be deviations and random occurrences outside of your control. You should still be thorough in your efforts, but remember that uncertainty is inevitable in any analysis.
Ask yourself if you have enough information to explain and promote discussion amongst executives and those involved. If the answer is yes, then you probably have enough value from your analysis to conclude your efforts.
Using your data to drive a decision becomes complex when all of your data isn’t combined in one unified source. If each department houses their data in separate systems and acts as their own entity, there is an increased chance your analysts are missing key pieces of information.
This is where your analytics tools come into play, easy access to real-time data visualizations and predictive analytics will increase your analysts’ overall visibility. Better access to company-wide data and interactive tools allow for a more comprehensive analysis.
Embrace the Iterative Process
Since simulating decisions is often unmanageable, even with the help of data and predictive analytics, it’s vital to take an iterative approach. Like many things in business, data-driven decision making is an ongoing process. Any individual project or decision derived from your analysis is not likely to be the end-all conclusion on the matter. Embrace the iterative process and take a learning approach towards all of your results, which will help your organization in the long run.
Weigh the Costs
Think about what you’ve learned thus far and evaluate if there are any key gaps in accessing your original assumptions. How much is it costing you to continue your efforts in comparison to how much value is being created? Placing a value on the amount of time dedicated to further queries will enable you to put the rate of additional analysis into perspective. This will help you to determine from a basic cost-benefit standpoint whether or not to proceed. Though it might be difficult to accurately quantify the value of additional gains, it’s good to get a general feel for when your analysis isn’t producing enough incremental value.
Always Keep Your Objectives in Mind
The primary motivations behind the decision or desired outcome should always be kept in mind. Overarching business objectives for the project should serve as your foundational guide for evaluating assumptions. Focus on assessing the validity of your initial hypothesis when it comes to deriving final conclusions. Focusing on objectives will also allow you to cipher through greater amounts of information without feeling overwhelmed.
Overall, with the endless amounts of data being created today, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. There will always be additional factors to consider and room for further analysis in any project. However, it’s important to identify the point of diminishing returns when it comes to investing your time in delving deeper into the data.