|Does it leave a trail of some kind?
||Employee turnover per year
Current level of customer retention
Database—you may not be aware of relevant data already tracked in your
companyAuditors—it’s their job to re-create the past from documents
|Could it be projected from past experience?
||The productivity of programmers
Growth in product demand
||Market research—this part of your firm might be able to give expert statistical assistance|
|Is it possible that this may already have been researched by someone outside of your
||The average life span of a sales-force automation system
The average cost of IT training for given type of user
||Corporate librarian—they can usually point you in the right research direction|
|Could it be observed in real-time?
||The amount of time an equipment operator spends filling out forms
||Just ask if you can watch or ask them to keep a journal (for a short period of time)|
|Could it be estimated with random surveys?
||The time employees say they spend doing some activity
The percentage of customers that say faster response to problems would be a significant factor
Human resources—they might be able to help with the sampling of employees
Market research—they may already be doing some customer surveys that you could add questions to
|Could you set up a test comparing this to an alternative (i.e., a controlled experiment)?
||The effect of a new system on the productivity of a sales clerk
The effect of a new system on customer retention
||Perhaps other researchers in your company could help you set up controlled experiments|
Douglas Hubbard is director of applied information economics with DHS & Associates Inc. in Rosemont, Ill. He can be reached at email@example.com.