Benchmarking reports can be the lifeblood of an association as well as its member organizations. The right report can create a huge impact on an organization’s expenditures, revenues, strategic direction or even the morale of the employees. But not every report will have this kind of success. Where one report can incite discussion and change, another can confuse.
The difference between these isn’t the use of glamorous stock photos or fancy slide transitions. Building and delivering a report that your audience can really use depends on some very fundamental elements that start with creation of your study.
STEP 1: COLLECT THE RIGHT DATA
The best reports are built from information that is essential, vital and interesting to your audience. Without these, your study has no value. Take the time to determine the right key performance indicators (KPI’s) your audience wants to measure so that you can present it in a manner that is meaningful to them.
For example, if your organization collects data regularly for its members, KPI’s can be used to create trend reports. The ability to show the percentage of year-to-year change, track progress and results over time and see their own placement within industry standards gives members valuable insight into their own businesses as well as their industry.
STEP 2: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS THE RIGHT WAY
What you ask for KPI’s is as important as how you ask for that information. Once you’ve determined the KPI’s for your audience, spend time formulating the questions that will extract that data in the best ways possible to provide clear results.
Asking for numeric values rather than presenting users with ranges from which to choose is one strategy for extracting measurable KPI data. This will allow the creation of meaningful filters and better data comparisons when it comes to building your reports. Questions that use clear “yes/no” answers, followed up by “if/then” qualifiers can also be used effectively to extract measurable, meaningful data.
STEP 3: BUILD THE RIGHT CHARTS AND REPORTS
While there may be many options for displaying data, not every chart should be used for every data type. Some data is best presented in certain formats for better usability.
Salary data collected from compensation and benefits surveys often works well in a scatter chart presentation, while expenses are often better suited to a pie chart. Knowing the best way to present your results ensures a meaningful report that’s easier to read and digest the key takeaways. Dynamic reporting, where users can choose their own data filters offers a way for your audience to choose the information and format that works best for their personal needs.
Chart styles that present data in the most usable format, along with filters that bring meaning deliver a benchmarking report that is both usable and capable of driving strategic initiatives and organizational changes.
As you work toward building a meaningful study for your audience, take the time to carefully consider the questions that will extract the most relevant and measurable data. When you build the right report, your benchmarking study can be a game changer for your members and your association.