I know several of my co-workers have recently posted blogs about field staff reporting and the importance of keeping it clean and up-to-date. So why am I writing about it now? Because it is one of the main problems I run into with clients when it comes to reporting. Plain and simple, numbers need to match up. If you keep it clean at the root level, you will save yourself some heartache in the end.
A couple of best practices are outlined below:
1. Train your brand ambassadors (BA’s) on the field staff reporting tool.
Provide a cheat sheet for exactly what you expect to be documented in each field. All of the clients I work with do a thorough job of training their BAs, but not all BAs have have a thorough understanding of the process. A cheat sheet, or something they can have on-hand as a reminder of exactly what you expect to be entered, can help everyone in the long run.
2. Wherever possible, provide the information to the BA.
This reduces the potential for human error. One of the best examples I have seen is drop down menus that allow the BA to select the event type, sample type, etc. The key is to reduce the amount of information they have to enter by hand and keeping the data uniform.
3. Create “restricted” fields in your field staff reporting portal where possible.
What do I mean by “restricted?” I mean require responses to be given exactly as you want them. Do you want “samples distributed” to always be reported as a number? Then require responses in that field to be entered only as a number.
4. Review and approve the data entered by your BAs weekly.
Field staff reporting is, at best, an estimate, and BAs are human – they may enter a number incorrectly from time to time. By reviewing and approving the data that is entered weekly, you are dividing your review into manageable chunks.
It is a lot easier to review 20 field staff reporting entries weekly than 1,000 at the end of a program. It also gives you the opportunity to review your BAs’ understanding of the field staff reporting process. If there are any discrepancies between your expectations and the BA’s understanding, you can nip them in the bud.
Some things to look for in reviewing and approving an entry include:
- Are attendance, impressions, interactions, consumers sampled declining? Impressions can’t be bigger than attendance, interactions won’t be bigger than impressions (at least not that I’ve ever seen), and consumers sampled won’t be bigger than interactions. If this ever happens, call the BA and ask them about it. In all likelihood it was an error in the entry process.
- Do the sum totals add up to the individual totals? Again,this is a common and easily corrected mistake. When the BA is submitting the individual sample variety totals and then the sum total, there may be a flick in the wrist that sends the sum off. If it doesn’t make sense, ask.
5. Always make your edits to any report at the root level.
Any time you fix a piece of erroneous data, it must be done in the portal where the data lives. This ensures any time a new report is exported, the data starts clean.
6. Always use calculated fields.
The best way to ensure your numbers add up when you are pulling things together for a report is to use the extensive list of available formulas in Excel.
7. Any time you segment, make sure you include a “Totals” row.
No matter how you slice data, the numbers should always be the same at the end. Segmenting by event type? Add your event types up to make sure they match your totals. Segmenting by market, too? Make sure the total matches your event type and cumulative totals. It’s a quick easy way to make sure your data is aligning on all fronts.
8. Always get someone else to check your work.
This is the most important process here at PortMA. Mistakes happen here, too. Go up one too many events with a formula (or don’t go up enough), and your numbers are thrown off. We can get tunnel vision when we live in data. A fresh set of eyes is the best way to combat that.
Need help getting your field staff reporting portal, best practices, etc., up and running? Someone on the PortMA team would love to help out with that.
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