Leveraging CommCare Data for Analysis

How can I analyze my CommCare data? We hear this question all the time. You built an app, started collecting data, and now, you need to start making sense of the information you collected. This is a critical step because your CommCare data can help reveal trends and information you need to make informed project decisions.

To help you in this process, we built several tools to help you cleanup, analyze and leverage the CommCare data you collected. In this write-up, we’ll cover these tools and identify the ways in which CommCare can help you unlock insights on your project. In this blog post, you’ll:

  • Watch a high-level video of our reporting solutions
  • Learn how you can analyze your data in Excel
  • Discover the types of exports you can create
  • Understand how to clean your data



Excel Dashboard Feed

With CommCare, you can directly push your data into an Excel spreadsheet and refresh the data directly within Excel. Using this feature, you can build a dashboard that will update with the latest CommCare data every day. All you have to do is click “Refresh” from your Excel document on your desktop, and the data will download and populate within the document without the need to go to the CommCare website! Your Excel dashboard feeds can also be used to connect with tools like Microsoft Power BI.  


Data Exports: 

The most basic data analysis tool CommCare offers is the ability to export form and case data. Exports allow you to transfer your data from CommCare into a spreadsheet format, where you analyze data in your tool of choice, e.g. Excel. We’ll cover three types of exports here — form exports, case data exports, and daily saved exports

  • Form Exports: With the export functionality, you can download data from the forms submitted to CommCareHQ. You create a form export by selecting a particular form in one of your applications, and setting a date filter that will let you see all of the submissions for this form over a period of time.


  • Case Exports: Similar to a form data exports, a case data export allows you to download data over any period of time. With the case export, you can download all of the case data associated with the case type that you select from your application.


  • Daily Saved Exports: Do you find yourself creating the same exports over-and-over? To save time, check out daily saved exports. With daily saved exports, you can enable your form or case export to run every 24-hours, so the export is ready for you each day when you want to download and analyze the data. You can even set-up some default filters on your saved exports!  For example, you can create different saved exports for different teams on your project, or filter the data so that you can only see the last month or week of data.


Data Cleaning:

When collecting significant amounts of data, you always run the risk of making mistakes that will impact your project’s data. Because of this, CommCare makes it possible for you to clean some of your data before or during your data export. In this section, we’ll cover how to edit submitted forms, how to archive submitted forms, our case import tool, and how to use deidentified data

  • Edit Submitted Forms: 

Projects that are on a Pro software plan or higher can use the “edit form submissions” feature. This allows project staff to make updates or corrections to forms that were previously submitted. The edit form submissions feature comes in handy when you submit a form but realize you entered in the wrong information and want to go back and edit that form. This feature adds a button to every Form Details page (accessible by going to the Submit History report and clicking “View Form”).

  • Archiving Forms: 

Archive forms is a way to help hide accidental form submissions to clean up your case data. For example, it allows you to reopening cases that were accidentally closed, or remove forms that were accidentally submitted against a case. Archiving a form will remove the data collected in the erroneous form from your case data and reports. The archived forms will still be displayed in Daily Saved exports, but not in other exports.  If you would like to archive multiple forms at once, you need to be on the CommCare Pro plan or higher.

  • Case Import: For projects on the standard plan or higher, the Excel Importer is a tool for creating or updating cases in bulk. Some examples of why this may be useful to you are:
    • You want to create 200 cases using data you collected through a non-CommCare program.
    • You want to add information to some or all of the cases already registered (e.g. a household number for all households).
    • You are running a clinical study and want to organize your cases into different study groups.
    • You want to set up cases for practice/training demos or testing.


  • De-identified Data: By enabling de-identified data in an export, a user with access to CommCare HQ can download data that can be analyzed for specific outcomes, but the personal identity of the cases will be unknown to the data analyst. CommCare applications may contain both personal identifying information and sensitive information. For example, you might want to hide:
    • An individual’s past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition.
    • An individual’s financial background, ownership information.
    • An individual’s sexual history.

    This feature is available on the Pro plan or higher.


What are your CommCare data needs?

The above tools are just a glimpse of what CommCare provides for data analysis. More advanced features, such as the ability to export data via API to an SQL database, are available for users on our Standard plan.  Additionally, CommCare provides various reports that allow you to view your data from within your web browser. Check out the “Reports” tab to get an idea of what is available. You can also read more about these features here.

Do these features cover your data analysis needs? Are there reporting features you wish existed in CommCare? We’d love to hear your feedback on these tools and hear how we can help you use your data. Share your feedback and questions with us using the form below.



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