Why do we do reports?

I remember a story about a faculty member who commented that every minute that they were working on program evaluation, was a minute they were “not doing their job.”  Of course what that faculty member failed to realize is that program evaluation is part of their job. It is just as critical a part of their job as program development and delivery.

I think the same can be said about the reporting component of our work.  We report contacts, write situation analysis reports, complete an annual Faculty report, report impacts, and we maintain and report when required, various civil rights-related information.  Does anyone use these reports?  Yes, many people do.  Your District Director, the Associate Director’s for Programs, communications and marketing staff, myself, and others.  But the biggest user of these reports should be you.  For example contacts reporting is not just so we can compile statewide participation numbers.  No, the most important use of contacts reporting data is to assess how effective your outreach efforts are in reaching underserved audiences in your assigned area.  The same idea can be said for all of the data you collect and report.  Don’t just collect the information because someone says you have to.  Reflect on and use the reports that are generated.  If you take the approach that your reporting function informs your work and should improve it, then I think the burden of reporting lessens.

With that said, let me hear your thoughts or questions on reporting responsibilities that you have.  Maybe there are ways we can make this part of your work more beneficial.

Joe Hunnings

5 thoughts on “Why do we do reports?

  1. Joe Hunnings

    I share that frustration Adam! Sometimes with the annual NIFA reports, we seem to have that trouble. A one-stop approach where you put in what is required once, and it is mined by different people for different needs, is certainly ideal. we do that with eFARS to some extent. The primary purpose of eFARS is annual faculty reporting for performance review purposes. But we have tacked on to it some Extension planning functions as well (Buy-in & PAP).
    In a few years the College is likely to be moving to a new university-wide reporting system. It will be customizable, so there may be some ways to package more reporting needs in one spot.

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  2. Cathryn Kloetzli

    Thank you for this post, Joe. It articulated what I’ve struggled with in the past, but am now coming to understand – which is how to use reporting to my program’s, and community’s, benefit.

    Ditto on what you and Adam have already discussed.

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    1. Joe Hunnings

      That’s good to hear Cathryn. On example of making greater use of your reports is to put together a an annual synopsis of the efforts and impacts of your work and that of your co-workers, and share that with your Board of Supervisors and City Council.

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  3. Kirsten Buhls

    Nice post, and thoughtful comments. My concern is a bit different in that it really is unclear to me how the volume of narrative can possibly be reviewed and used in a meaningful way. It seems to me that the burden of reading these reports must be huge. I do use the numbers in many different ways to support our community desire to know what it is that we do and it is always an interesting exercise to find the balance between the desire to “tell the story” of human impact and the county administrator’s need to have quick, concise, meaningful numbers that tell the financial benefits side of it.

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  4. Joe Hunnings

    Kirsten, you are right, the volume of data is huge. For example, over 1500 impact statements from CALS faculty every year. So what we try to do at the College or state level is to think about the bigger picture. For reporting purposes, we want to focus on those programming efforts where we see sustained, wide spread educational efforts that are having impacts. That’s really the idea behind the Impact Teams. These Teams have been and will be selected to focus our evaluation and reporting efforts on issues where we are having significant impacts on relevant issues of today’s society. And like you have found with your county administrator, a good balance of facts and human interest stories is an effective way to tell the story.

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