No matter what kind of data analysis you perform, it involves studying data thoroughly and recognizing common patterns and themes that have relevant impact on the results. Usually with quantitative data, this becomes relatively easy because numbers are involved and everything can be quantified. You can get software like PROS big data analytics and solve your analytics problems in the blink of an eye.
With qualitative data, there is that problem of fixed and absolute classification and results. Qualitative data is usually in the form of long text or narrations which can be interesting once you get into it but requires a lot of time and effort. However, it isn’t something you can just ignore because it is important as well. What you need is a smart strategy which would give you conclusive results and not take too much time as well. The following points would be helpful –
- Read – The first and the basic step involves simply giving all your data a once over and reviewing it. This is the first step of any form of data analysis because it gives you a clear picture of what you are dealing with and allows you to make a mental map. There would be notes from observation, documents and records in written form and other transcripts that you have to go through in this step.
- Make Your Notes – There is so much data that you can’t hope to remember everything mentally. To make the bulk of data manageable, make notes. You can simply scribble important things in your personal notebook of observations or you can use the margins of the transcripts. Just make sure that you understand your notes and don’t need to go through the data next time and can simply peruse the notes.
- Coding – Unlike quantitative data analysis, where coding has different connotations altogether, in qualitative studies, coding simply means recognizing themes and patterns. All the documents and transcripts you go through would have some common themes that would come to your attention when you are reviewing them. This would be an important part of your study and you must note these common themes down.
- Interpretation – Once you have reviewed and coded all your important observations and themes, it is time to interpret their significance on your study. The impact of all the recurring problems and common patterns has to be analyzed thoroughly and then you have to review the final interpreted results again. If you find some issues, try to crosscheck them with any other observations that you might have noted in the process of your study. Your company’s analytics software would help you interpret results in a better way.
- Reporting – This is the final stage where you need to draft a report, documenting your finding and observations and any advice to improve the current system. This is a summarized form of all your study.
Qualitative analysis is always much more tedious that quantitative analysis but the results are more important, so it is always worth the resources spent on it.