A trend is a change in direction that holds and persists. It is a set of data that shows a clear pattern of increase, decrease or no change. When you can relate a data trend in terms that make sense to non-data analysts, you can help provide key decision makers with the best information to make informed decisions. Once you have found established data trends, it is easier to make an argument that supports the data. The challenge is setting up the report.
Identify what you want to analyze. This helps to focus your report and hopefully makes the process more efficient. Assume you want to analyze trends in costs compared to sales. Describe the goal of the trend report and analysis on the first few pages of the trend report.
Research as much as you can about the topic you are analyzing. Trends involve using historical data, so you need to obtain as much historical information as possible about costs and sales. Be sure historical data is reported in the same units as currently reported data. Include the date range of the data in the trend report.
Graph or chart the data until you see trends in the data. A trend can be up, down or sideways (no change). Some trends are short-term and others are long-term. Include these graphs as exhibits in the back of your trend report.
Provide a summary of trends observed in the graphs or charts. Use your research to build a story on why the trends are occurring. Also be sure to describe the nature of the trend: is there a strong trend; is the trend over a long period of time?
Provide recommendations on what you think the trend will be in the future. If there's been a strong growth trend in sales, explain why this growth trend will continue or why you believe it will not continue.
- lukas_zb/iStock/Getty Images