6.3 Fundamentals of reporting
6.3.1 Knowing your target audience/user group
The most important preparation that is necessary as the early warning unit is getting started
on price analysis is an understanding of the target audience (or user group). The target
audience will help in determining the products that should be developed. It takes as much
time to produce an unused product or output as it does to produce a good product or output,
so understanding what your users want is a good investment of time.
To better understand the needs of your target audience, one needs to know the kinds of
decisions that need to be made with this information, the frequency and timing of these
decisions, the level of detail required in the products, and the preferred presentational format
(if possible). This kind of information can be obtained from a user survey. This survey
could take the form of a brief questionnaire or informal meetings. Even in informal
meetings careful planning of questions should be done ahead of time.
Follow up meetings with decision makers to pre test products that they said they wanted,
along with additional products. Decision makers do not always know what they want, but
usually can identify what they will use if they see it. Demonstrating new products before
their introduction in reports is a good way to identify if they will be used. One suggestion is
to have a meeting with two or three potential aggressive users of the information. This will
initiate a more dynamic process that will better guide the development of appropriate
products and provide feedback on reporting.
Report information not data
There is a difference between data and information. Data are numbers and facts, while
information is data that are processed, analyzed, and interpreted. Too often data are
confused as information and are included in reports.
Although there is a need to process data and information to be able to do effective analysis
of prices, you must report information. Decision makers that read your reports are not
analysts. Do not expect them to become analysts (even if they had once been analysts in the
past) since they have a limited amount of time. Given their busy schedules they require
information (not data) upon which to base their decisions.
Remember that you are not trying to replace the market information system (MIS) that
provided you with the data. A MIS reports the data and provides some analysis. You should
have the opposite balance: little data and more analysis in your reporting. The purpose of
price monitoring is to provide a broader picture of the early warning situation in your
country. The objective is to use the price data supplied by the MIS and add value to it by
combining it with other data types, assess the impact that changes in these data will have on