We’ve all done it . . . made New Year’s resolutions that this will finally be the year to eat healthier, to go on that dream trip to Europe, or to get more organized. Our hopes are high and our intentions are good—and yet, the end of the New Year comes around and our resolutions remain undone.For market researchers and businesses, the New Year puts a focus on planning for new research and evaluating research already in place, including that tracker that’s important to continue but, over time, has turned stale and “tired.” You continue to track, but it isn’t providing the same level of value or insights as it has in the past. It needs to be rejuvenated.
At Chadwick Martin Bailey, we believe that if your tracker isn’t helping your company grow, stay ahead of the competition, or set strategic priorities, you need to make a change. If one of your resolutions for 2015 is to refresh your tired tracker, here are some things that will help you achieve that goal this year:
- Evaluate your tracker with a fresh eye to make sure you’re asking the right questions, in the right way, to generate insights that support your business decisions for 2015 and the years to come. Even though most of us shudder at the thought of touching a tracker in any way (how many times have you said the words “but what impact will that have on trending?!”), today’s pace of change in business is remarkable. The landscape that currently exists for your business may be very far from what it was when your tracker began.
Make an honest assessment of the questions you ask and how you ask them. Would you be gaining deeper, more actionable insights if you made a change? Then, make careful decisions about trade-offs, specifically between improving usefulness vs. losing trendability. If you deem a change necessary, create a transition plan. Conduct a parallel pilot test of the change when possible. Have discussions with your stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the trade-offs that will be made.
- Focus on the strategic and tactical decisions the business needs to make from this tracking research. Have conversations with your stakeholders and information users. Find out which results from the existing tracker are actively used and which results are never touched.
- If you find some results are no longer used or cannot provide insights to drive action, consider cutting the questions.
- If you find new information needs have arisen that require tracking, add questions that will address them. For any new needs that don’t need to be tracked over time, consider incorporating a “rotating” module into your tracker (a short section of questions open to change wave-to-wave). This helps leverage the tracker to address specific related questions without undergoing the cost and time of a separate research effort.
What information does your business currently need in order to take action? Knowing the answer to this question and keeping your tracker current to address those needs elevates its usefulness to drive action and decision-making.
- Ensure your tracker deliverables are telling a story that is relevant to each audience. You should be delivering the right insights to the right stakeholders, and these insights should be in a form that allows them to act. This means no data overload. It’s hard to identify insights when they sit somewhere within a 100 page deck. It’s harder to digest business-changing recommendations when you only have 20 minutes on the calendar to review them before the stakeholders are off to their next meeting. It’s even harder for your stakeholders to decide what type of action they should take when the information is delivered in a “one size fits all” format.
It’s important to think about how to customize your tracker deliverables in a succinct way that readily speaks to each stakeholder’s role and what decisions they need to make, so you don’t fall into the trap of just delivering updates on the same set of metrics wave after wave.
Topline reports may work well for certain audiences while scorecards and dashboards might work better for others. Don’t be afraid to deliver results creatively and in a visually-compelling format. At CMB, we often include dynamic deliverables such as easy-to-digest infographics, one-pagers, posters, and video/motion graphics. These dynamic deliverables are all focused on communicating the story (not the data!) in a way that is relevant and useful for enabling action across our clients’ organizations.
So if you’ve made a commitment that this year will finally be the year that you rejuvenate that tired tracker, consider the areas above when setting it up to support confident, strategic decision-making in 2015 and beyond.
Wendy is the Account Director of CMB’s Financial Services practice. She has two children, and she loves Cape Cod, the Boston Celtics, and refreshing tired trackers. Her 2015 New Year’s resolution is to finally make this the year she actually keeps her resolution about kicking her daily Diet Coke habit.