Earlier I wrote about four important questions you should ask if you're looking at using statistical software to analyze data in your organization, especially if you're hoping to improve quality using methods like Six Sigma. But there are other points to consider as well. If you're in market for statistical software, be sure to investigate these questions, too!
What Types of Statistical Analysis Will They Be Doing?
The specific types of analysis you need to do could play a big part in determining the right statistical software for your organization. There are many specialized programs for econometrics, spatial statistics, data mining, statistical genetics, risk modeling, and more. However, if your company has employees who specialize in the finer points of these kinds of analyses, chances are good they already identified and have access to the right software for their needs.
Most users will want a general statistics software package that offers the power and flexibility to do all of the most commonly used types of analysis, including regression, ANOVA, hypothesis testing, design of experiments, capability analysis, control charts, and more. If you're considering a general statistics software package, check its features list to make sure it does the kinds of analysis you need. Here is the complete feature list for Minitab Statistical Software.
Many general statistical software packages offer the same types of analysis, but their power, ease of use, and the amount of statistical know-how they demand of the user vary widely. That's why it's important to consider the level of statistical expertise users will have, and how easy it is for them to get help when they need it.
Are There Special Considerations for Data Analysis in Your Industry?
Some professions may have specialized data analysis needs due to regulations, industry requirements, or the unique nature of their business. For example, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry needs to meet FDA recommendations for testing, which may involve statistical techniques such as Design of Experiments. Similarly, control charts that were developed to measure defects may not be the right control charts for measuring "rare events" such as those in medical professions.
Depending on the needs of your business, one or more of these highly specialized software packages may be appropriate. However, general statistics software packages with a full range of tools may provide the features and functionality your industry requires, so be sure to investigate and compare these packages with the more specialized, and often more expensive, programs used in some industries.
What Do Statistical Software Packages Cost?
Last but not least, you will need to consider the cost the software package, which can range from $0 for some open-source programs to many thousands of dollars per license for more specialized offerings.
Once again, it is important to compare not just the unit-copy price of a software package (i.e., what it costs to install one copy of the software on a single machine) but to find out what licensing options for statistical software are available for your situation.
Got More Questions about Statistical Software?
These questions are only the starting point in selecting the best statistical software package for your organization or business. If you have questions about software for data analysis or quality improvement, please feel free to contact the Minitab representative nearest you to discuss your situation in detail.