A good tracker runs like a well-oiled machine; many moving parts are working together to execute wave after wave of flawless data collection and reporting. However, such machines don't run themselves; behind the scenes there is a hard-working mechanic, there to provide routine maintenance and repair in order to keep it running at peak performance levels. In many ways, managing a tracker is like being a mechanic, and adopting a few of their tricks can help ensure your tracker runs smoothly.
Not only does a mechanic have on-hand a manual of the cars he services, he also precisely documents when a car needs its next oil change, maintenance check, or smog test. In a similar fashion, the manager of a tracker should keep detailed documents and timelines to ensure that anyone who works on the tracker can easily learn about any of its pieces, and properly execute their tasks. Here at Murphy Research, we like to use Google Drive to keep live documents that detail every aspect of our trackers, from internal timelines to project how-tos, quality control standards to checklists of changes based on client feedback. By creating, sharing, and constantly updating these tracker "manuals," we ensure the entire team stays organized, on schedule, and informed every step of the way.
Have a Spare
Keeping spare parts around the shop is one way mechanics ensure that, should a part break in the engine, they can diagnose and repair the issue as quickly and thoroughly as possible to get the car running and back on the road. Similarly, we like to keep spare "parts" available for our trackers, especially during reporting season: a few extra days built into the timeline to rigorously check that each report meets our exceptional quality standards, and a few auxiliary team members trained on the project ready to jump in and assist should the core team get busy with other projects. By thinking ahead and equipping ourselves with these spares ahead of time, we are able to better handle any unanticipated speed bumps that pop up along the way.
Every machine will need maintenance sooner or later, just as every tracker will experience a few programming bugs or reporting errors now and again. By taking the time to create and organize detailed documents and to stock your inventory of spares ahead of time, you set yourself up for success and bring your tracker one step closer to the well-oiled machine it should be.