What is it?

Once you’ve collected new quantitative or qualitative data, the next step is to work out what it’s telling you.

Why use it?

You can have all the data in the world, but if you don’t analyse it and make meaning of it it’s not useful.

Before you start

Is this tool right for you? To find out more about selecting the best tool, check out the project planner.

You might want to check out the send a short survey tool or the send a strategic survey tool first.

What you'll need

Time1-2 days for analysis, 4 hours for your results workshop, 1-2 days for report writing and sharing your results, 4 hours for action planning
BudgetNo cost

Top Tip
If you collected survey responses using paper or Excel, take the time to input your results into an online survey platform to analyse the data. These platforms do all the hard work for you to prepare your data and turn it into visually meaningful charts. You can also segment and filter your results at the click of a button. This is instead of cross-tabulating in Excel, which can be tricky and time consuming. 

Step by step

1. Choose how to analyse

Primarily there are two options to choose from when deciding how to analyse your data.

The first option is analysing in an online survey tool. Many online survey tools have excellent analysis capability. These tools automatically convert your responses into charts for you, which makes it easy for you to spot your most interesting findings at a glance.

The second option is Excel. If you haven’t used a survey platform, your data may already be in Excel. Before you begin in Excel, check out the data analysis template to avoid extra work – we’ve already done some of it for you.

2. Cleaning your data

The next step is to clean your data. If you have manually entered responses or totals, check for any data entry errors. Check for any gaps in your data or any data points that look strange, and then try to work out why they are there. If there are no obvious answers, make a note to look into these data points in your analysis. Make sure to also include your findings in your reporting.

If you’re using Excel, check out its top 10 ways to clean your data. You can search for this in Excel or on the web.

3. Prepare your data

This step is for those using the data analysis template. For those using an online survey platform, this work is already done for you – so you can skip ahead to Step 4.

To prepare your data, head to the data analysis template for instructions.

4. Analyse your data

You’re now ready to analyse your data! The first step is to go back to your survey question. This will help you to work out what you’re analysing.

In your Excel file, note down or highlight the key results next to each chart. If you’re using another document, such as Word or PowerPoint, insert each chart first.

Quantitative questions:

You can look at many different results. Below are some ideas:

  • Highest or lowest results
  • Top two or bottom two choices
  • Average response
  • Range of responses
  • Segmenting responses (also known as cross-tabulation) i.e. looking at the results from respondents aged 25 to 34, or those who have visited in the past 12 months.

Qualitative questions:

For a simple, effective way to analyse qualitative questions, check out the Qualitative question tab in the data analysis template.

Another way to look at your qualitative data is by using a word cloud. A word cloud prioritises your qualitative results by how many times a word was mentioned. Do a quick web search for free word cloud tools. In these tools, you can paste your qualitative responses and a word cloud will automatically appear.

For all of your results (quantitative and qualitative), ask yourself three questions:

  • What did I expect to see?
  • Are my results different to what I expected?
  • What looks most interesting?

For each chart, write a short explanation (1-2 sentences) of what you think is happening based on your analysis. Think about your qualitative data and any background information, context or existing knowledge you have. Also jot down any ‘gut feelings’.

At the end of your analysis, take a moment to reflect on the overall ‘story’. What are you generally seeing? Write this down and why you think this might be the case. Consider three points:

  • What are the top three things to come out of my analysis?
  • What is surprising?
  • What points do I need to relay to other people I work with?

5. Run a results workshop

Check out the results workshop template for an agenda and exercises to use with your team or trusted colleagues, advisors or other stakeholders to build a shared understanding of the findings.

6. Document your findings

To document your findings in a report, head to the write a report tool.

7. Share your findings

Read up on tips and guidance when sharing your findings in the share your findings guide.

8. Action your insights

Check out the action your results tool to make the most of your insights.

Take a look at the action planning template. This will help you keep track of how you implement the actions that come from your research.