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Make your report user-oriented.

As a researcher, you know that your work mostly revolves around the user. You spend a lot of your time understanding user needs and goals, and then using those insights to make design decisions. This approach should also apply to creating your research report for stakeholders. Additionally, while presenting the report, you should not only consider the expectations of the stakeholders, but also what they are accountable for.

The recommendations should be strategic and actionable.

You normally create a list of recommendations for the research report. It’s good to keep them as a record, but don’t include all of them in the final report. You should present only the top 3 recommendations that are most strategic and actionable. Additionally support these recommendations with data and evidence. Make sure stakeholders know that there are more, but these are the top recommendations based on viability, feasibility and desirability.

Record the details, but present the highlights.

The idea that a design research report should be something really comprehensive, is not so relevant to the modern world. Your stakeholders belong to a world that is ever changing and getting faster. So your report needs to be designed in accordance with this pace. It should be brief and focused on what actions will have the most impact. Consider adding cost, user impact and business value to the recommendations.

Align with the stakeholders.

You should always try to quantify the risk. In case you have a stakeholder with a skeptical nature, you will need to design recommendations in a way that quantifies the risk in doing and not doing the recommendation. That is why it’s important to be clear on what your stakeholder accountabilities are.

Present recommendations with confidence.

After you have used your skills in preparing the report, present it with confidence. Your recommendations should be presented like a viewpoint, and not opinion. Your report is not showing personal likes. It is based on expertise, research, client insights and the relevant data.

Listen to your stakeholders' feedback.

When you have presented the research report and recommendations, don’t expect stakeholders to always agree with you. They may have solid business reasons behind going a different direction or choosing to prioritize some recommendations over others. The key is to listen and ask questions. It’s also important to consider opportunities for additional research or deep diving on specific elements.

Record everything for future rethinking.

Now if the stakeholder is not convinced to go ahead with a recommendation, it’s time to go back to the detailed study that you had done. Remember to save and document everything (transcripts, recordings, notes etc.), but it’s not necessary to include them in the final report. The documented information can help you or other researchers to find alternative solutions if the recommendations or plan is not agreed upon or insights are challenged.

Share your recommendations.

Try to make recommendations as shareable as possible. The more comprehensible findings are, the better the chance of them being considered and appreciated.

In conclusion you have to be confident and concise while designing a research report for the stakeholders. Be user-oriented while making the report, but also flexible toward your stakeholders while presenting it. Achieving this balance is the key to your success as a UX researcher

Designing Research Reports Stakeholders Will Appreciate

  • Writer's pictureBalwinder Singh

A Good Designer Understands the Business

Stay focused

To achieve your business goals, you must be able to be focused on the things that make a difference for your business. With so many distractions involved in every business, this skill is a challenge to master. For instance, if you wish to attract more visitors to your website, you might be caught up in the layout and design, instead of concentrating on actual factors affecting the traffic, such as SEO.

Understanding the outcomes

The ability to understand the outcome of a decision is a key part of business acumen. This enables you to weigh the potential results of each option and then choose the one that delivers the most benefit with minimum downside. The core to this is understanding what is important to the business i.e. do they want a sale, a subscription or a happy customer. In other words, understanding not only the business objectives but their underlying impact.

Problem solving skill

This important skill is another part of business acumen. Using this skill, relevant information about a problem is collected from multiple sources, then from viable solutions, choose the one that is most likely to achieve your goals. After that, if the things don’t go as planned, this ability helps you make the suitable adjustments to quickly adapt to the new circumstances.

Knowing the stakeholder needs

Every business involves certain stakeholders like investors, employees and customers. Maintaining a balance between their needs is usually a tough job. Part of business acumen is understanding the needs of all stakeholders, and then giving them the proper level of impact in your decision-making. What the business wants might not be the best for clients and what clients want might not be viable for the business. Striking the balance and using data to support your decisions is key.

Steps involved in the development of business acumen

The following is a list of the most important strategies that can help you develop your business acumen. They will require a great effort on your part, but moving on with perseverance will lead you in the right direction.

  1. Understand your business model. A foundational part of strong business acumen is having a good knowledge of your business model. It doesn’t only involve the basic knowledge of how it makes money. It must include detailed aspects of your business such as its life cycle and the way its supply chain works.

  2. Include business acumen into your core competencies. Most companies have a specific set of core competencies that they need their employees to focus on. Business acumen should be a part of the list so that everyone working for your business can handle every situation in a way that really benefits your business.

  3. Read your financial statements. It might sound dry, but reading your financial reports regularly will help you develop better insight into your business. Whether it’s a recent income statement or a profit and loss statement, by reading them you will start to learn how your business is making money. You can find a coworker in finance to help you understand them.

  4. Find a mentor. Find a person in your business whom you admire and trust, and then use them as a decision-making resource. Finding a reliable and talented mentor will aid your acumen and increase the success rate of your decisions.

  5. Be attentive to business news. There are countless business news resources available online, like Business Week, WSJ, The Economist and Forbes. Keep informed of the business developments around the globe, and ask yourself questions like “How does this relate to my business?” or “What lesson can I draw from this?”

  6. Develop the reading habit. You should have a library of career-building books. This will help develop your business acumen. It might not be necessary to read every book thoroughly, but you should consult them every time you come across a new business question.

  7. Hear your customers. As every business revolves around the customer, you must not forget that you are not your customer. You need to listen to what your customer says or feels about your product. Even your employees are also your customers. You need to develop a connection between their work and yours to understand what people feel while interacting with your business.

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