A reporting template for data collaboration

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Communication among skilled stakeholders in a project around data can be challenging. As we discussed in our post around the challenges of working in data, one of the biggest hurdles for a data team to overcome is communicating with their colleagues and stakeholders to deliver data projects that drive value. I also know from personal experience how confusing language can be when working with domain-specific and/or non-technical teams to build reports, even when the requirements seem simple at the surface level.

To tackle this issue, we have built a template in Miro to help data teams host a report building workshop. Our aim is to facilitate information flows between data professionals and internal teams as well as engineers, to stay all on the same page and build data products of high-quality value (that our colleagues will actually use).

What is the reporting workshop template?

The template is designed as a platform for a half-day workshop where the data team, technical teams and lines of business can come together to build a reporting asset.

It starts with domain-specific stakeholder needs all the way to building a key dataset and reporting material.

The template itself is not exhaustive, and it won’t be enough on its own to drive data collaboration (you will still need buy-in from the right people). But it should help a working group to visualise the foundational elements they’ll need to piece together a report. In this case we have also listed an example from our own work – a collaboration from the Snowplow Marketing team on a content performance dashboard.

You can work with the blank template to guide your workshop, or take inspiration from our own working example.

How can I access it?

To use the template, you have a few options.

If you prefer to download the PDF, you can download that here.

If you prefer working within Miro, you can access the Miro template here.

How to use the Miro template

If you are using the template in PDF form, you can the PDF (above) and either attach it to an existing document or presentation, or print it out to use in person.

If you prefer using Miro, take the following steps:

  1. Access the Miro template from your broswer.
  2. Select the templates with the cursor and copy them.
  3. Start a new board and paste the templates into your new Miro board.
  4. Your template will be unlocked and ready for you to fill in with your team!

Running a successful reporting workshop

Coming into this workshop, you’ll want to invite all relevant stakeholders in the data value chain, including the team you’re working with, the analysts responsible for the report and any engineers or front-end developers responsible for tracking implementation. Conscious of in-person meeting feasibility, we also recommend leveraging asynchronous participation. Don’t forget to ping the right ones and define timing for input!

Ensure that all participants have an understanding of the workshop’s purpose and what they’ll get out of it. While the workshop can be held asynchronously, if you are hosting in real time, set clear expectations on the time commitment involved and the outcomes you’re aiming for. Remember: the result of the workshop should be an actionable report that the team can actually use to deliver value.

Start with why

Start by taking a step back and asking why. Why is this report needed? In what ways will it empower the team? How will it be used? What are the problems it’s going to solve? The better your understanding of the challenges behind the project, the better your outcomes will be.

Invite your participants to share their ‘user story’

A great way to better understand your colleagues is to invite them to write their user story, and ask ‘why’ five times. Here’s one example I have with my marketing colleague, Simon:

Content marketer user story: “I need a way to track the performance of our content on a regular basis”

Why?

“I want a better understanding of which content performs well, and which doesn’t”

Why?

“I want to be able to use data to learn how I can write better, more relevant content”

Why?

“By writing better content, I want to attract more data professionals to our website and into our ecosystem”

Why?

“I want to bring more data professionals to our website to get more people interested in Snowplow”

Why?

“I want our content to drive Snowplow’s growth!”

From the outside, it might look like an irritating exercise, but by repeatedly asking “why”, I got to the heart of the matter. Simon’s first question was about content performance, but after questioning him further, I got to the bottom of the issue – he wants to understand the role that his content plays in the growth of the company. Armed with this information, I can build reporting tools that relate content to our sales funnel, and deliver richer insights to the content team.

Bring it all together

Behavioral data is a team effort. A successful data product won’t just come from me or the data team, but from the data consumers, the front-end team and the wider organization that needs to buy into data as an important asset. When hosting your workshop, be clear on what is required from each stakeholder, and set out a plan for everyone to follow. Your first reports will take a fair amount of coordination and project management to pull it off, but it will get easier each time you iterate.

To share the success of your efforts, it’s worth demonstrating the positive impact of data-driven decisions by sharing the reports and linking it to key changes in your organization. Remember that showcasing the value of behavioral data is a continuous project.

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