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CP010: Averages are Mean – 8 Techniques for making your analysis above average



In the 10th session of Chandoo.org podcast, lets make your analysis above AVERAGE.

CP010: Averages are Mean - 8 Techniques for making your analysis above average - Chandoo.org Podcast

What is in this session?

This is a continuation of Session 9 – Averages are mean

In the earlier episode, we talked about AVERAGE and why it should be avoided. In this session, learn about 8 power analysis techniques that will lift your work above averages.

In this podcast, you will learn,

  • Re-cap – Why avoid averages
  • 8 Techniques for better analysis
  • #1: Start with AVERAGE
  • #2: Moving Averages
  • #3: Weighted Averages
  • #4: Visualize the data
  • Conclusions

NOTE: This is a 2 part podcast. Listen to first part before hearing this.

Go ahead and listen to the show

Links & Resources mentioned in this session:

Average FormulaSyntax, examples

Moving Average in Excel

Weighted Average in Excel

Special cases:

Statistics & Probability for analyst – a guide

Transcript of this session:

Download this podcast transcript [PDF].

How do you raise above average?

For many of my reports I start with AVERAGE and then improve the metrics to show insights. I try weighted average, median, mode, visualizations and conditional averages.

What about you? What analytical techniques & formulas do you use apart from AVERAGE()? Please share your thoughts using comments.

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8 Responses to “CP010: Averages are Mean – 8 Techniques for making your analysis above average”

  1. Esteban says:

    Have not listen to the podcast yet (waiitng to read the trancript instead) so maybe this is addressed already...
    but what I always find is problematic when trending/averaging or sumarizing data in any other form is that data some times has "brake points"... points where behaviour changes (you can clearly see tehm in a chart)... trending, averaging or conoslidating in any way accorss this "break bounaries" is usually a problem and generates misleading indicators....
    So I always think I need to find an automated and easy way to identify this breaks and then do my average or trend only within the valid group of data points... I still have not found any good formulas or method.. any thoughts?

  2. Rajib says:

    Hi Chandoo / Hui / Other Experts,

    I have a query regarding using non-array formula on arrays.

    e.g. I have 4 columns with value like these:

    A1 Abhik
    A2 Abheek
    A3 Avik
    A4 Aveek

    I want to find the longest word in this array using sumproduct.

    Sumproduct(len(A1:A4)) = 20
    Alt+TUF shows
    Sumproduct({5;6;4;5}) >> 20
    When I apply Sumproduct(large(len(A1:A4),1); Alt+TUF shows
    Sumproduct(large(len("Abhik"),1)) = 5; but this is not the desired outcome.
    However, when I pass the same array separately in sumproduct(large({5;6;4;5}),1) it shows 6 which is correct result.

    I'm not able to understand why Sumproduct is behaving separately with Large(Len()) combinations, when it works fine with Large, Len or the array {5;6;4;5} separately?

    I hope I was clear with the question. If not please let me know.


    • Rajib says:

      And sorry for being off-topic, but could not figure out alternative way to approach 🙁

      • Rajib says:

        While I was trying out to make it work. I realized that sumproduct can create an array only from the first function. When multiple functions are nested, it does not work any more as an array & you have no other way but to press CSE array.

        e.g. Sumproduct(round("Range",0)) generates an integer & give right answer. However, if we modify Sumproduct(large(round("Range",0),{1;2}) the array property does not work any more!

        Sorry I'm only spamming the comments section. But as I'm exploring, sharing the observations. So that I get valuable inputs from all you experts.

        Even in your last post, many people have asked array as an issue. May be you can dedicate a couple of posts on that!


        • NARAYAN says:

          Hi Rajib ,

          SUMPRODUCT on its own always operates on arrays ; once there are functions nested within the SUMPRODUCT function , the overall behaviour of the formula depends on whether the nested functions also by default operate on arrays , or they operate on arrays only if they are array entered using CTRL SHIFT ENTER.

          To take a simple example , suppose you have a list of numbers from 1 through 9 , with repetitions in a random order ; let us name this Numbers.

          To find out the sum of all those numbers in this list which are greater than 3 , we can use the formula :


          This will return the correct result without the need for CTRL SHIFT ENTER , since there is no nested function , and SUMPRODUCT , by default , operates on arrays.

          We can get the same result using a somewhat roundabout way , by :


          But this formula will return the correct result only if it is array entered , using CTRL SHIFT ENTER ; the nested function IF does not operate on arrays by default ; however , if it is array-entered , it will operate on arrays.

          The LARGE and SMALL functions also work on arrays , but the point is that invariably , we use these functions along with some criteria , which are enforced using the IF function , and the latter is not an array function by default.

          For example , suppose our list of numbers had repetitions ; suppose we want to know the sum of all the repeated smallest numbers , whatever it may be. We can use :


          This does not have to be array-entered.

          However , the moment you write this functionality using an IF statement , as in :


          the formula will return the correct result only if it is array-entered.


          • Rajib says:

            Thanks Narayan. I understand.

            Is there a way, from microsoft formula help or somewhere, we can see the list of all the formulas that use array as input or output?

            e.g. Sumproduct, Aggregate, Large, Small, MMult etc.


          • NARAYAN says:

            Hi Rajib ,

            Sorry , but I have no knowledge.

            The confusing part is that there are several functions such as MATCH , COUNTIF , which are shown in the official help documentation as having a syntax where one of the parameters is a single-cell reference ; but over the years , experts have seen that these functions can accept multi-celled ranges in such parameters also.

            For example MATCH accepts an array as its first parameter , as in :


            where List is a row / column vector.

            Similarly , COUNTIF accepts an array in its second parameter , as in :


            In such cases , these will have to be array entered , using CTRL SHIFT ENTER.


  3. Joyce Swensson says:

    Thank you for everything you do for the analyst community. The ability to read the podcast transcript is a really appreciated. BTW, I enjoyed hearing your children in an earlier podcast.

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