Like any form of storytelling, data needs context. You must understand the circumstances surrounding your numbers to shed light on what they represent, so you can interpret them. Only then will you be able to turn facts into meaningful information that facilitates positive decision-making at your organisation.
Here we explore how to place your data in context.
How to give your data context?
You may discover that 20% of people who used your service went on to paid employment. But how do you know whether 20% is good, average, or poor? A simple step is to talk to colleagues, service users and others about what ‘good’ might look like for your organisation, and consider your results against this.
Even better, find or collect data that you can compare yourself to. There are two main types of comparison:
1. Using a baseline:
This means comparison over time. A common approach is collecting data before someone uses a service and afterwards, to see if there is a change. Baselining can also be used at an institutional level; for example, to show if your results are improving across the whole organisation over time.