With Q3 coming to an end, there is a hidden giant that will begin to emerge its head – year end reporting (annual reporting).
With the shift to online over the decades, and the more recent surge with the emergence of COVID-19, having an online presence & becoming more data driven has had a huge impact on businesses’ bottom line. Business initiatives & strategy (both online & offline) that were outlined for 2021 will now need to be assessed against actual performance, this is where year end reporting comes into play.
For most, year end reporting presented to various teams & stakeholders (both internal & external) can be a huge undertaking & not rewarding as it seems as though the reports are not leveraged beyond the meeting that they were presented at. Which can be very discouraging.
But with this recent surge of digital analytics importance, it is time to reassess reporting approaches to make sure that digital analytics’ ability to quantify & qualify performance are leveraged to help businesses become more data driven with their decision making. Furthermore, allow businesses to identify opportunities to unlock hidden potential, and adopt a testing mindset.
Later this month we will publishing a blog about how to create a comprehensive reporting program, but ahead of that, there is a very important skill that needs to be honed – storytelling.
Forbes post Three Reasons Storytelling Is Critical To Success In Data And Analytics , outlines that:
- People don’t want more information
- Information alone isn’t meaningful
- People are not rational.
“It is for these reasons that data and analytics practitioners should take a closer look at integrating storytelling in our work”
Integrating storytelling into reporting is not a new concept, but how to start building expertise or to find the right expertise to support reporting efforts can be quite difficult. Below are key questions that all novice storytellers should ask themselves as they begin their journey to more impactful & meaningful reporting.
1) Who is the Audience & What Genre Do They Care About?
In other words, who are the stakeholders & what matters to them/what are they trying to accomplish?
The audience of the report, are the audience because they plan to do X after consuming the reports content. Understanding what the X is will help storytellers with not only guiding the analysis, but also determine what insights will engage the stakeholders. Make sure the right insights are presented to the right stakeholders.
In cases, where there are internal stakeholders from a number of different departments or both internal & external consuming the same report – the opportunity to create audience specific summaries or version of the report so that the storytelling doesn’t become chaotic & lose stakeholder interest is highly recommended.
2) What is “The End” of the Story?
After determining who the audience of the report is & what matters to them, storytellers will be able to define what “the end” is – what the objective of the report is. Year end reports are often pigeonholed into overall performance reports, with heavy reliance on YoY or QoQ analysis. This approach is a huge missed opportunity.
Align the objective of the report with the stakeholders’ goals & targets for the year – what were they trying to achieve in 2021. Based on what stakeholders were trying to achieve, what decisions would the stakeholder like to finalize for 2022 (lessons learned taken into consideration for 2022 strategy).
The above is easier said then done, leveraging support may be required to determine more defined reporting objectives.
3) Do You Have Confidence That the Details of the Story Will Lead to “The End”?
This question can be further broken down to do you have confidence that the right data is in place to support the story?
ClickInsight’s motto “Count What Matter, Change What Counts” is heavily reliant around the concept of identifying what matters & having the right data in place. What matters to the business & stakeholders (objectives, targets, goals, etc.) should guide what is counted (data collection & arrangement/design).
A few things to note:
- Do not shy away from using more than one relevant data source in your reporting – utilizing more relevant data sources may pique stakeholders’ interest as they will be able to visualize the bigger picture.
- If stakeholder specific objectives were not considered in the past, then the right data might not have been collected &/or arranged in a meaningful way to be leveraged.
- If the right data is not in place or the keys to connect the platforms in your digital ecosystem are missing – utilize identifying this missed opportunity to communicate & get buy-in to improve the analytics for future reports.
- Year end reporting is a great opportunity to position the need for resource allocation for any missed opportunities in front of the right stakeholder.
Above were a few pointers to help novice storytellers begin their journey to more impactful & meaningful reporting as we are approaching the year end reporting cycle. For more support on the above items, more advanced storytelling coaching, or support with getting a comprehensive reporting program in place, do not hesitate to contact my team & I at email@example.com