Analysis refers to the examination of a subject in order to gain a better understanding of it. This can involve a search for cause-and-effect relationships between the items in a data set. The result of analysis can be a report that clarifies the nature of the subject, or which outlines actions that can be taken. Analysis is a key aspect of the problem solving process.
In the fields of accounting and finance, analysis typically refers to the examination of financial or operational results, to locate under performing or over performing areas of a business. This information is then used as a feedback loop to enhance the results of an organization. Analysis is also used by external parties to gain insights into the performance of a business; the results are used to decide whether to invest in or grant credit to a company.