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  • Writer's pictureKelly Adams

6 Lessons from My First 6 Months as a Data Analyst


Young man writing on a notebook during study session

I’m just over 6 months into my data analyst role and I’ve grown in both my technical and soft skills. Specifically my collaboration and understanding the social gaming industry. I wanted to go into what I’ve learned since I wrote my blog post a few months ago, 10 Things I've Learned in My First Month as a Data Analyst


6 Things I've Learned 


1 How important business knowledge is. 


Knowing how to write a complex SQL query and create a clear dashboard is important. But, being able to understand the why is what makes a good data analyst. Understanding how the business makes money and what the KPIs (key performance indicators) are is crucial. Remember, it’s not just analyzing data, it’s about getting insights from the data that drive business decisions. For me, learning the important KPIs for the business like player activity and retention helped me identify which players we should target for bonus offers. 


2 Talk about the results not your processes. 

Clean data and good data models are vital. But stakeholder aren’t interested in that. They want to know how your insights/analysis is going to help the business. Either by saving money or time, or increase profit. In the beginning, I focused specifics of my queries or reports, but I realized the stakeholder wasn’t as interested. Once I shifted on the outcome, like figuring out which group of players spend more money, it made more of an impact. 


3 Documentation is vital. 

A less talked about but crucial practice is documentation. Whether it’s with writing your SQL queries or noting the type of reports or dashboards you have. Documentation is important for any business because it saves time. People can look to the documentation to answer common questions. I recently had a situation where I had to revert back to an old change in a SQL query, thankfully because all of our queries are in Git/Github, I was able to do so easily and saved time. 


4 Review your work

After you’ve made a report or dashboard, don’t just push it aside. You need to go back and regularly check up on your reports/dashboards. This way you can update it or get rid of unused/unnecessary reports. The less reports you have the more time you can spend working on other high value projects. I review all the dashboards/reports every two weeks, and recently I was able to remove some unused reports. This helped save us money by reducing unnecessary query runs. 


5 Take your time

While as a new data analyst you might want to get through everything as quick as possible. But it’s better to take your time to deliver a thorough and clear project, than rush through delivering an incomplete or messy project. Don't forget document your journey, not only for yourself but for others who may need to understand your work/process. Several times, I’ve want to rush through the process. But, taking the time to work through a SQL query helped me identify an error that could’ve impacted the accuracy of my report. 


6 Don't just write queries that work.

When I first started my job my focus was writing queries that worked and solved the problem. But with more experience I also think about how efficient my query is. Whether it takes 5GB to process or 10GB. At my company it costs money to run queries, the more GBs a query uses, the more expensive. So if I can write efficient queries it’ll save time and money. Right now I frequently go back on my old queries and see if I can make them more efficient either by partitioning the table I’m using or adjusting or removing unnecessary joins. 


Conclusion 

Like my previous article, I haven’t covered everything I’ve learned, but these are the major things I've learned. it’s no longer just about doing the job, it’s about doing it better and taking on more challenging and complex projects. Hopefully, my journey can inspire and guide yours. 

P.S. If you're interested in how I became a data analyst check out my article here. If you're looking for advice on how to become a data analyst check out my ultimate guide.

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