Data analytics project: Gross profit analysis for introductory financial accounting

This blog post contains a data analytics project that is suitable for introductory financial accounting. The student uses Excel to analyze a data set that contains more than 48,000 records. The data analytics project can be assigned early in the course once the concept of gross profit is reviewed.

Overview of project

This project uses sales and cost data for a fictitious cabinet hardware company, Cabinet Accessories Company (CAC.) In this project, the student will use Excel to create a variety of pivot tables, format the pivot tables, apply filters, and create calculated columns. The student also needs to cleanse the data set by finding and correcting errors in the data set. In addition, the student will create a pivot chart.

Project resources

The tutorial video has closed captioning; the annotated slides for the tutorial video have the same script. The tutorial data set is an Excel file containing a small subset of the full data set; I used this small data set in creating the tutorial video.

Office 365 or Excel 2016 (newest versions)

Anyone doing this project will need to have either Office 365 or Excel 2016. Updates Microsoft has made to Excel 2016 include the ability to automatically group dates by quarters and years (an integral part of this project), so if a student says that their pivot table does not have quarters or years (or any other issue), tell them to update their version of Office 365 and/or Excel 2016.


If you would like to have a copy of the Excel solution file, please fill out the request form. Once I verify your status as an instructor, I will email the file to you within a week. Please do not post the solution file on the internet and please do not share the solutions file with your students. The Excel solutions file is for your own use only.

KAT Insurance: Data analytics case for introductory financial accounting

The demand for business graduates with data analytics skills has exploded, while the tools and techniques are continuing to evolve and change at a rapid pace. Three of us who teach introductory accounting (Wendy Tietz, Jennifer Cainas, and Tracie Miller-Nobles) have joined forces to develop a case to introduce data analytics in the introductory financial accounting course. This case uses real-life insurance company data that has been anonymized and simplified. The name of the fictitious company analyzed in the case is “KAT Insurance Company.” The case itself is a one-page case and is designed to be able to be completed in 30 – 40 minutes with each software tool (Excel, Power BI, and Tableau.)

This case teaches students how to drill-down into a company’s sales data, gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s sales and how this information can be used for decision-making. Students will use Excel, Power BI, and/or Tableau to analyze the sales transactions for an insurance company. Students will first have to find and correct errors in the data set. Students then will use various techniques to analyze the case. Step-by-step tutorial videos will guide students through the Excel, Power BI, and Tableau portions of the case analysis. This case will introduce the student to data analytics topics including data cleansing, data dictionaries, and data visualizations.

***You can obtain the Instructor Guide for the KAT Insurance Financial Accounting case by requesting it at this link.***

Give us about 5 – 8 days to respond – but check your Spam folder for the email if you do not see our email within that approximate time frame. (You may want to add to your Safe Senders list. Please don’t email to that email address – that is an email address used solely for distributing the KAT Insurance resources. Thank you!)

Several resources have been developed for this case to make it easy to integrate into introductory financial accounting courses. Read on for the resources that have been developed and for information on how to request the case and related resources.

What’s included

The following resources are available for this case and are included or linked in the Instructor Guide for the KAT Insurance Financial Accounting case:

  1. Case (one-page Word handout)
  2. Student guide (Word)
  3. General learning objectives for the overall case
  4. Specific learning objectives (related to specifically to Excel, Power BI, and Tableau)
  5. Data sets containing 65,000+ records (4 versions: A, B, C, and D)
  6. 24-record tutorial data set
  7. Step-by-step tutorial video (close captioned)
  8. Scripted tutorial video slides (pdf)
  9. Editable grading rubric (Word document in Appendix A)
  10. Multiple-choice questions with solutions for each of the four data sets Excel solution files
  11. Optional video assignment instructions

How to obtain case materials

***You can obtain the Instructor Guide for the KAT Insurance Financial Accounting case by requesting it at this link.***

You will need to fill out a brief form and then we will verify your instructor status prior to sending you the Instructor Guide. We generally send the Instructor Guide within a week after the request; we will contact you if we need additional information to verify your instructor status.

Please add to your contacts so that our email to you does not go to your Spam folder. (Check your spam folder if you do not hear from us within a week of making your request.)

The Instructor Guide contains links to all the resources listed above. We do ask that you not share the Instructor Guide with students. Please do not post the solutions to the case on Blackboard, Canvas, or any other Learning Management System. Also, please do not post the Instructor Guide or the solutions on any web site. (Thank you in advance for helping to maintain the academic useful life of the materials.)

We hope you find value in this data analytics case for introductory financial accounting. Please share any feedback with us about your experiences in using the case. Enjoy! Also, watch for our upcoming KAT Insurance Managerial Accounting case….

Again, you can obtain the Instructor Guide for the KAT Insurance Financial Accounting case by requesting it at this link.


Wendy M. Tietz, PhD, CPA, CMA, CSCA

Jennifer M. Cainas, DBA, MAcc, CPA

Tracie L. Miller-Nobles, CPA