All seven of the best practices for informational writing still apply to analytical writing:
1. Use your subject line for your walkaway message
2. Get to the point : Use M.A.D.E. to organize. Give your Message followed by actions, details, and evidence
3. Use formatting, headings, and lists to group information visually. See pages 330-331 of the textbook for the report format used in 95% of business reports today.
4. Meet the information needs of the audience
5. Don’t over-explain: half as strong is twice as long
6. Don’t alarm unnecessarily. Choose words carefully.
7. Maintain a professional tone.
Add these four additional best practices for analytical writing:
8. Even with analytical writing, use M.A.D.E.: Put your findings up front followed by details and evidence.
9. State what a graph “proves” before you “show” it.
10. Put data and formulas in tables, graphs, or bullets. Do not embed long formulas or lists of numbers in your sentences
11. In real life, be sure your analysis is correct. Factor your problem. Use cross-tabulation analysis. Use the three steps of data analysis outlined in the lecture and the book: look at each item alone, each item against the other items, and synthesize your findings. (Another reason to pay attention in Stats class…J)
Below are the details to explain how these best practices apply to this assignment.
Give your message up front. A report is not a mystery novel and there is no reason to hold your findings or recommendation to the end. Do not ask Hilda or any reader to redo the analysis with you. You did the work; tell them what you found.
After your message, give your supporting evidence and details. If it isn’t obvious, explain the methodology of your analysis. Remember to use M.A.D.E.: give the message THEN give the evidence and details…
Be clear about any next steps and who will take them. As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to delegate action items to your manager….so tell them what you are going to do.
Headings and white space organize and group complex data in reports. Useful headings within this report might include Methodology, Rules for Awarding Overtime, Eligibility versus Overtime, Recommended Next Steps, Findings, etc…
Most managers do not like math any better than the rest of us. A simple analysis that begins with a clearly written conclusion supported by easy-to-follow evidence will win the hearts of executives.
Keep the tone neutral. Beware of loaded words that point fingers, assume evil intent, or create “a sky is falling” attitude unless the data warrants genuine alarm. The manager in Dept 7-Y “provided data,” “stated,” or “said” rather than “claimed” (which implies she was lying….) or “insisted” (which suggests she was defensive and angry).
Maintain a professional tone. Remember that “professional” tone is not “formal” and does not sound like a lawyer.
US business “professional” tone is simple, clear, direct, and easy to translate in a global market. In professional writing, you “use” rather than “utilize.” You “start” rather than “proceed.” As Lee Iacocca said, “Keep it simple and keep it short.”
Seniority in isolation and productivity in isolation give you two different recommended lists of employee eligibility for overtime. You have to look at the two data sets together to get a final, ranked list of eligibility. This is cross-tabulation analysis.
The analysis should surface the fact that—at the very least--George (a Union employee) and Jeanine (a non-Union employee) deserve a second look.
There are multiple “correct” ways to do this analysis. Below is one way to do it:
NAME (Union or Non-Union)
UPDATED: AVG Productivity- scrap
OT Eligibility (Yrs employed + Productivity) rounded
ACTUAL OT HOURS
Jeanine B. Andrews (NU)
Hector Rodrigues (NU)
Will O. Rundell (NU)
George Graves (U)