Enterprise Report Automation

The importance of automating your reports

Rob Gravestock, Associate Director of our Bureau Reporting Service, explains the importance of automating your reports!

A couple of weeks ago, my wife experimented and baked a Gin & Tonic lemon drizzle cake, it was heaven. Two of my favourite things in life mixed together! I enjoyed it so much that I asked her to bake another for when my family visited the following week. Next week arrived, between my wife and I, we were manically trying to clean the house top to bottom. In this time, the smoke alarm went off, my wife pulls out “something” that can only be described as a write-off! My wife then hastily proceeds to rustle up another batch. Thankfully the second attempt came out fine, however it came out denser and didn’t have that same zingy edge the original one had.

The reason I chose this story is that it highlights a few points; starting with consistency. Despite my wife’s best efforts, she was unable to replicate her first result. In the first result, it was too long in the oven and the outcome was unusable. In the second case, there was a different technique in that my wife rushed the batch and knocked the air out of the sponge mixture. In addition, there were different quantities of ingredients used, less lemon juice used in the icing, meaning that the cake lost that tangy edge, and this variation, led to an inferior outcome.

Staying in the world of baking, this is an industry where automation has become an essential component to any large scale operation, most notably in the machinery that produces large quantities of the same product. This is possible through replicating the same conditions and following the same exact specifications and most importantly, producing a consistent result. This notion also applies to the Market Research industry. If for example, you are working on a multi-country tracking study, you need to know that all thirty country report deliverables follow the same logic and the outcomes are accurate and correct, not just the first one you send! With automation software, there is no risk that the reports will deviate from the specification provided. As opposed to human error which is inevitable when humans work on large repetitive projects, especially when combined with pressure and tiredness.

We then move on to capacity. If my wife was not in a rush, then I suspect she would have been able to replicate the same cake…pretty much. Unfortunately, my wife did not have the time or resources that she needed to invest in the cake before my family’s arrival. In the MR industry, results and findings are fast and furious, and companies make strategic decisions based on these reports. This makes it essential that they are provided as quickly as possible. The benefit of automation is that projects can be built using interim or previous wave data, meaning  the project will be ready and waiting so that the final data can be plugged in and the reports run. This then gives researchers and project managers more time to do what they do best – provide insight into the report results.

With automation, there is the opportunity to over chart. Overcharting means comparing more data and results thus ensuring that nothing will be missed. This gives the researcher more opportunity to see the wider picture and tell a more insightful story. When a report is created manually it is down to the researcher to pick and choose what they feel would be good to report based on past experience. Overcharting would take up a lot of resources if done manually and is often not worth investing time into. Imagine me asking my wife whether she could make a batch of cookies after she had just made the second lemon drizzle cake, I don’t think that would have gone down well!

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