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After data has been collected and cleaned, analysis is the next step. Typically, that analysis begins with summary statistics and then moves to more in-depth analysis of trends and outliers. In both cases, significant insights can lead directly to informed and improved decision-making. Sometimes, these insights confirm suspicions and other times they are surprising.
One of the first ways to ensure a successful analysis is to make sure the right tools are being used. Fortunately, as part of Texas State University, the Institute has access to a variety of useful tools, such as ArcGIS, Microsoft SQL Server, JMP from SAS, and others.
A county program needed to report its past contracting with Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) as an update to previous reporting, and to inform future practices to ensure they were meeting their goals. Complex financial reporting systems meant that multiple datasets had to be combined to arrive at an answer. The expertise was available, but only from employees who had other important duties which inhibited them from completing this sporadic analysis.
By partnering with the Institute, the HUB program was able to complete the required analysis without utilizing valuable staff time. Students at the Institute were able to combine all the necessary datasets using Microsoft SQL Server and develop code to complete the analysis. The code also enabled future analyses to be more automated and comparable across years.