If you’re searching for an effective strategy to increase the value you offer to members, then automating your data collection and reporting presents an excellent starting point. Automation offers tremendous value to you and your members, and today’s automation trends provide a number of simple starting points from which to choose.
How Automation Can Help
While automation may place many of your current processes behind the scenes, you can reap visible benefits from adopting any one of today’s automation trends in numerous ways.
- Automating data collection makes you more efficient. The clear benefit of automation is that it eliminates the time spent on manual data entry, calculations, member follow-up, and more. Each added layer of automation should remove some level of human involvement, allowing your staff to devote more time to value-added activities. Plus, once you’ve automated one report, it becomes simpler to replicate these processes and expand your offerings to additional types of reporting.
- Automation in data collection can reduce the risk of reporting errors. We all know that the more human involvement in your data collection and reporting, the greater the risk of error. However, this reduced risk of error in data collection also provides greater confidence in any step you might need to take with the resulting report. Once your data collection and reporting process has proven effective, there’s no need to triple-check or validate each new piece of information before you use it.
- Automation makes customized reporting easier than ever. Once you set up your automation process to instantly generate reports, it becomes much easier to make small modifications to formatting. Because this reporting is all done through data modeling, it is possible to change a single parameter and adjust your presentation style within a matter of minutes. This ensures you’re providing the most impactful option for members.
- Automation allows you greater flexibility. The efficiency you gain in pursuing any of today’s automation trends gives you a better ability to deliver value to members. It ensures that you are able to quickly pivot to provide the timeliest information. And, once you build an automated workflow for data collection and reporting, you’re better prepared to adopt the next iteration of automation that your members expect as soon as it becomes available.
Maximizing Automation in Data Collection and Reporting
When it comes to data collection and reporting, we’ve seen a progression in the types of processes that can be automated. Where once nonprofits mailed or faxed surveys to members, many have moved toward manually entering collected data into an Excel spreadsheet. More recently, online forms have become simpler to use, allowing members to submit their own data in a consistent format that allows for simpler analysis. Now, automation trends are headed towards processes that allow your members to submit data online where it can be instantly amalgamated within a database to automatically generate a report.
Each iteration of this progression reduces the need for manual input. When done right, this increasing level of automation also reduces the number of steps needed to perform a process and creates a more standardized format for information. This standardization opens up tremendous possibilities in reporting.
As one case in point, when the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) came to Vault for assistance in updating their Market Statistics Data Portal, they already had in place a website where members could submit sales data through an online form. Data uploaded each month was placed into a standardized data table. With this framework in place, OPEI was ready to increase the amount of data it could provide in each report to provide greater value to members.
Vault integrated data on market share, including sales volume for certain products across different regions, with product data, including a break-down of features for each product sold. Members now have access to an information-rich dashboard that allows them to get a far more useful analysis of sales data based on product details. The result is a user-centered platform that grants members insight into where certain product features are most in demand and allows for better comparison across product types.
Pursuing Today’s Automation Trends Can Keep You Competitive
Nonprofits seeking to stay competitive know that the greatest value they can offer their members is information. By working with a research expert like Vault, you can maximize the value you offer to members with every step you automate. To learn more about how you can expand your value through automated data collection and reporting, contact Vault.