We used our expertise in reproducible reporting to improve a team’s data analysis processes. This saved significant time and effort in their regular report production.

A complex report

The Regional Economic Activity Report (REAR) presents population, employment, GDP and annual household income information across New Zealand’s regions and Territorial Authorities. The report is prepared annually by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Pulling together this complex document required many resources, and needed coordination between analysts, graphics, and communications teams.

Mentoring staff in R and LaTeX

We worked with the MBIE sector performance team to help develop the graphics for this report. Their analysts were using the statistical software R, and we were able to show the team how to use this powerful software to produce publication quality graphics, that met the requirements of the graphic designers.

We also introduced the team to software development practices, such as version control and continuous build processes.

The Ministry requested our support to produce an improved printed version of the report using LaTeX, a powerful coded typesetting system. Together LaTeX and R offered significant advantages over traditional word processing programmes for producing this large report, which has many figures and tables.

Because LaTeX has a coded interface, helping staff to use and manage the code themselves was an important part of the project. Ministry staff found our code and documentation easy to follow and gained confidence in managing it themselves. With our experience to fall back on, they enjoyed the fun of working with new processes.

Beautiful report production

The 2014 REAR’s very polished production has set a new standard for MBIE’s reporting. LaTeX allows final changes to be made quickly and easily, which led to the much higher quality output.

Code also equals reproducibility and economy—future reports will be created by inputting new data rather than creating individual plots from scratch. The MBIE team believe this feature will save them 70 percent of the preparation time for future reports.

We are very grateful to Dragonfly. Their work was much more collaborative than we had experienced with contractors before. For us, the benefits go way beyond a one-off report.

Yvan was extremely motivated, very easy going and really listened to us – the amount of work he got though was astonishing! Towards the end of the project, we were working to a very tight timetable to meet the Minister’s deadline for releasing the report, but we all kept our heads and had no issues, despite being under so much pressure.

If I have another chance to work with Dragonfly I won’t hesitate to say yes. No question.

Vij Kooyela
Senior Analyst, Sector Performance Team
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment .