In a recent webinar, Gideon Halter gave us a detailed insight into methods for automating enterprise research reporting using the E-Tabs product. Automation is useful for certain scenarios – mainly those where the reports being created are identical or nearly so, as in multiple wave tracking studies or multi-market studies where the same survey is being employed in different markets. Before considering an automation tool researchers are encouraged to ask themselves:
- How much time do we spend entering data manually into final presentations?
- How much time is spent checking presentations for accuracy?
- Are tight margins preventing us from adding value to projects and key clients?
- Are short timelines creating an overpromise and under-deliver scenario?
Gideon stressed that as we move away from manual reporting toward an automated solution we can expect to see increased accuracy, reduced reporting costs, more available researcher time (which can be used for additional insights), and the ability to take on more complex projects.
Enterprise automation has two starting components:
- Data tables, which can be derived from numerous programs
- Presentation templates, which can be derived from common platforms such as Word, PowerPoint or PDF.
The automation process lies in the middle and combines data with templates to create finalized reports as seen in the diagram below.
Steps that we would take to improve the report, such as changing colors based on significance levels, importing logos, or focusing on top 5 or top 10 items can be automated. E-Tabs offers researchers the ability to license the software or leverage the company as a service provider.
Key takeaways – if you are like most researchers, we tend to find ourselves pinched for time with increasing responsibilities. This is often compounded by not enough hands and eyes on the data. Automation offers us the ability to blend our data, derived from multiple sources, with existing report templates. This can applied to both repetitive reports, e.g. tracking studies and multi-market projects, and ad hoc reporting.