Too much information
5 October 2021 at 7:00 am
Tips on how to craft striking reports and save yourself time, from Mark Siara at Map Consulting Group.
We are in a pandemic of information, and it has infected everything. We have 24-hour rolling-news cycles, we have every fact, opinion and lie ever developed by humankind on the world wide web, and we have the sometimes happy, often angry, beast that is social media.
On the one hand this is impressive: a multitude of information at the touch of a button. On the other hand this is insufferable: a multitude of information at the touch of a button. And it is becoming exponentially worse. According to an IBM Marketing Cloud study, over 90 per cent of the data on the Internet has been created since 2016.
The same data-inflation occurs in the corporate, educational and NFP sectors. Increased computing power means more data than ever is available from enterprise resource planning software, or directly from individual teams such as finance, HR, marketing, quality, projects, procurement etc. Data that is impossible to read-through and difficult to interpret. This is especially true of numerical data; most people absorb information most easily when it is either in visual form, or as part of a narrative.
A picture is worth 672 words
Consider the following question: what’s the difference between equality and equity? If you follow the links to the Cambridge Dictionary you will find a total of 672 words used to define these terms. Once you have processed the 672, you should be able to explain to someone else how they differ. Or you could just use this image, developed by the Center for Story-Based Strategy, the Interaction Institute for Social Change and the artist Angus Maguire:
Information that works for you
Visual information is not only quicker to process, but also provides a more efficient way to put your key messages across. A study by researchers at Michigan State University backs this up. Prior to being discharged, 200 ER patients were given instructions on how to care for their wounds at home. The instructions that contained a visual element were not only more likely to be read, but the information was better retained, and the instructions were more likely to be followed.
Case example – Turbocharge your reporting
Star Health, formerly Inner South Community Health, is a leading provider of primary health services in Victoria. The NFP provides a broad range of services across the entire life span.
Sally Richmond, who joined Star Health in early 2021 as program manager, mental health and NDIS, was keen to improve management reporting in her area and approached MAP consulting group to assist.
Like all good managers, Richmond was keen to have a process that captured key program metrics and reported on them in a meaningful, but simple, fashion.
MAP agreed to work with Richmond and Josh Dredge (Star Health’s NDIS support coordination co-ordinator) to demonstrate how service delivery data could be used to highlight performance over defined periods and trends over time.
MAP consultants Mark Siara and Glenn Foard were able to quite quickly develop a reporting format that included dashboard indicators and graphical representations of trends.
According to Richmond, the results were “excellent”. She is now using the work for her own program management purposes but also for reporting to the Star Health board.
MAP is keen to make this expertise available to other organisations.
MAP Consulting Group has specialists in data management who can provide you with a fully bespoke information management system that presents the data you need in a timely manner. It employs commonly used tools based on the MS Office suite, so is cheap, easily updated, familiar, intuitive, and requires only minimal training. It allows you to:
- quickly generate striking, informative visuals that concisely tell the story you want to tell;
- accurately represent your data – using graphics to reinforce the story, not obscure it;
- save time producing concise reports for your time-poor audience;
- target and tailor content to suit the stakeholders being engaged; and
- easily and conveniently update the data to align with reporting cycles.
In addition, MAP Consulting Group also offers a full range of authoring and editing services covering:
- marketing, media, communications and journalism
- technical documentation
- reports, plans, publications and presentations
- promotional materials
- logos and organisation branding
- “look and feel” standardisation of organisation documents
- content tailored for both internal and external stakeholders.
If you are interested in any of these services or just to further explore the possibilities contact MAP’s director Lea Corbett via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone 0411 019 828.