The Third “R” Of Reporting – Relate

So you’re a Project or Program Manager confronting the reality of reporting – you got a new project, a new job, and of course you have to get the information flowing. Or make sure it’s flowing. Or make sure it’s right . . .

You’ve been there. I have. You just need to make sure it’s working. Or fix it.

Now I’ve covered how the first thing to do in Reporting is, well Reporting; keep the reports going so you can figure them out. Secondly, you want to Research and figure all the parts of how things are and how they work. Of course that’s a lot of parts . . .

That’s where we get to tying them together – what I call the third R. Relate.

In a report data is transformed, condensed, discarded, stored, and disseminated. A JIRA entry becomes an excel cell. Vast data becomes a single number. Technical stats become business meaning.

A report is a giant structure of transformation – and you need to figure out how it works, how all those parts come together.

So thus, the “Relate” stage is building a map of your reports to understand how it works. Maybe you write it down, or draw a diagram or whatever. But either way your goal is to understand not just the parts, but the structure itself.

This lets you understand:
* Where data and information come from.
* How data is transformed and why.
* How it is stored.
* How it is presented and why.
* The technologies involved.

And most importantly

* anything missing, flawed, or broken along the way. Which can get to be a pretty impressive list, especially adding onto what you found in the last stage, Research. Sometimes you don’t see the flaws until you see the system in motion.

Ultimately, the goal of the 3rd R, Relate, is to understand data flow and expectations from point A to point B.  And yes, you’ll probably do this at the same time as the Research stage, or close to it, but I want to call it out because it is very much it’s own thing.

This leads to our next R . . . which I’ll cover, of course, next column. Because it’s a doozy.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at