Do Economic Impact Reports Have to Cost a Lot?
Why the tedious parts of impact reports have historically inflated prices. Until now.
Organizations commission economic impact reports frequently, especially when policy or regulatory issues arise. Some groups will do reports as more of an ongoing communication strategy focused on their industry impact on job creation and more. These reports are a proven and highly effective tool of persuasion.
In our line of work we hear lots of stories about doing economic reports, usually through an outside consultant or research firm. Over time certain patterns have emerged, in particular around the cost and level of effort involved.
The following is a quick summary of some of our key learnings, as well as some of the ways eImpact's reporting technology has made traditional reporting more efficient – and cost effective.
Top 3 Drivers to the Cost of Economic Reports
1. Collecting and Managing Data
We are living at the beginning of a Golden Age of Open Data, which started in earnest with this 2009 Obama memorandum Transparency and Open Government.
So it is easy today to get a lot of the data we need, yet most customers who commission reports are still over-paying for basic data collection and management. Why? This is mostly due to manual techniques and processes used by the researchers. Each time a report process begins, the tedious data collection process begins anew, resulting in high costs to the client.
How eImpact is differentAt eImpact we developed powerful technology to automate not only the collection of economic and other data, but the updating and maintenance of the data over time. In this way, the report stays current, rather than growing stale the moment the report is published.
2. Report Formats
Most economic impact reports are long – typically 20 to 50 or more pages in length. The reports are verbose and the reader has to slog through pages of dry, economist-speak to get to the highlights. As we often hear, an executive summary is all that really gets used, with the majority of the study going largely unread.
Some groups have begun defaulting to slide deck formats. This is certainly an improvement in presentation (depending on the audience), but we have not seen it lower the overall cost to the customer.
How eImpact is differenteImpact turns traditional reporting on its head. We make reports engaging, interactive and easy to update with our web-based technology. As more of the world gets their information online (especially mobile; 66% of adults consume information on mobile devices, according to Pew Research), it makes sense for economic impact reports to be primarily an online resource.
We recently heard about an impact report that took 9 months to complete. This was by far the longest process time we've seen, and by no means the norm. More common is a delivery process ranging between 2 and 6 months. This is still too long. The burden to staff time is enormous. The cost of the finished product is necessarily high, because your research firm is charging by the hour. Worst of all, you probably can't wait this long when policy issues arise and play out in the legislature.
How eImpact is differentWe deliver most reports within 2 weeks of signing up. That isn't always the case; highly customized analysis of complex issues do take up to twice as long. Nonetheless, we've radically reduced time to delivery through a combination of technology, and a company culture fixated on our customers' success.
Here is an example of an eImpact Report. Scroll the frame to view the whole report:
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