For Training Tuesday, we are continuing our discussion from previous weeks. How do we capture information from large groups of people? What is the most effective way to show this information in a way that we can make sense of and identify trends?
In our previous discussions, we’ve shown how you gather the trending reports from the computers on the ranges. This information is analog currently, in that you have to print it out and then re-input it into your database. This can be done as well with tables of fire that do not have any trending reports from the computer.
This is where you need someone who is computer literate to take care of the data processing. There are many potential databases you could input this information into. The two primary ones that I have used is Excel for capturing and generating the charts, and PowerPoint to put it in a format that is easy to be presented. Open source software similar Excel should work, as long as the formulas are correctly input.
First thing you need to do is identify what your training objectives are for this particular report. This determines what your columns are going to be. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m assuming you are doing this in Microsoft Excel. The first column is our number. This gives us an easy reference for how many personnel have been present for the training. The next in this case is the training week. Since the Army goes based on the fiscal year, you have to adjust it accordingly. The formula used will be discussed in a video. The next metric is the date. This is especially important as you track trends across multiple days and weeks. Then the rank and name come next, along with company, battalion, and brigade in this instance. Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, this can change easily.
In this Spreadsheets’ case, I’ve made drop-downs that will allow only certain types of data to be input. This makes it easier for the statistician to ensure appropriate units are input for unit type. If you want to learn how to validate data for specific sets of Excel, I will be putting together a video explaining it.
Now that we have gotten the background information out the way, we go to the columns that are going to record the results we are looking for. In this case, it is the standard Army Table VI qualification for the M4. However, you are only limited by what it is you capture and put down here. Just like the old saying goes: “Pics or it didn’t happen.” We have to have the same mindset in capturing our data for qualifications or just shooting in general.
For example, If you put your Paratroopers on a shot timer and want to capture their splits on a basic drill commonly used for training skills, like ‘El Presidente’, you can put their times in in place of a score. This allows you to average it out and see what the overall time is for your personnel. Common benchmarks for skills drills like this can be found on the internet for a comparison of what a good time is, thus giving you an idea of how much improvement you need as an organization. You can also input the total number of rounds outside of the ‘A’ zone, depending upon your target. This allows for the identification of trends as to whether you have people who are not getting stable platforms to fire from or aren’t practicing good recoil management.
You are limited only by your ability to gather and create the report. The only good metric is the one you didn’t capture.