Jennifer Veesenmeyer, Senior Web Analytics Consultant, Stratigent, was the second Guru to present (following Eric Peterson's presentation) during the afternoon Guru Panel, and presented in interesting contrast to Eric Peterson’s presentation style. Jennifer was more understated, yet provided one of the most interesting presentations I saw this day.
“Fighting fire with fire” - using reporting to answer the fires of the business world was the topic of her presentation, and presented some clear ideas for improving both the quality of the reports being generated to answer web analytics issues as well as improving the value of those presentations to the company. Clear, compelling reports are the goal, but often routine reports take too much time to prepare, involve too many people in the process, and add little value to the company. She presented several techniques for leverage routine reports to best advantage.
1) Provide analysis, not narration. A report should provide insight that answers “so what” questions, not simply provide narration. If your reports concentrate on reporting the numbers (e.g. “clicks are up 2.1% over last month, blah, blah, blah,” rather than telling me why I should care, then the reports are not being used to best advantage.
2) Group metrics so you can analyze the group rather than individual metrics. This will often provide better insight than the individual metrics might.
3) Report on "smoke alarm" metrics every period, and rotate the drill-down metrics from month to month. This will allow you to save time on collection of secondary metrics while focusing on those that are mission critical.
4) Reserve some time to be proactive in analyzing most important drill-down for the month and for contingencies.
5) Separate metrics into business driver and diagnostic categories. Drivers tell when you need to make a change. The diagnostic metrics tell you where to make the change.
6) Save time by automating the formatting of routine reports by using linking options to convert unformatted tables, to formatted tables, to PowerPoint. This saves time in the long run by allowing you to drop the unformatted data into a spreadsheet, and have the data automatically flow through to the PowerPoint presentation.
The next recommendation was actually the most intriguing:
7) Report on your reports. Ad hoc reports eat time, and many times the requester does not know how much. So, track how much time it takes to generate a report, and report on the time spent (in a footer, perhaps) to raise awareness of the cost of generating the report.
8) Set goals on where you should be spending your time, track it, and report on where your time is being consumed. Expand this research to cover your staff as well (even if they are, in reality, just interns).
9) If specific groups within the organization are eating your time, report on them as well, recording (and analyzing) the who, the what, and why things are taking so much time.
Her final point was presented in considerable detail:
10) Tailor your reports to be more persuasive. There are five different management styles (as identified in “The 5 Paths to Persuasion: The Art of Selling Your Message” By Robert Bruce Miller and Gary A. Williams): “Follower”, “Charismatic”, “Skeptic”, “Thinker,” and “Controller.” Jennifer recommends identifying the style of the manager you are targeting for persuasion and tailoring your reports to reflect the presentation they will find most persuasive.
During the Q and A, someone asked how can one determine a particular manager’s style? Jennifer responded that you can figure that by working with that person over time. More importantly, if you do not work directly with that senior person, there may be someone lower in the organization that you will need to persuade first, and then both work to persuade the higher-up. Thus, it may also be necessary to adapt your persuasion style as you work your way up through the organization.
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