Any well-practiced accountant can tell you the importance of maintaining accurate business records. This is especially important if your business ever needs to undergo an audit or use records to demonstrate need. This was recently the case for businesses applying to the paycheck protection program during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses receiving federal funding need to retain deeply detailed records of all study activities and data for several reasons. Data can enable a research team to improve upon research practices in subsequent projects and track and measure their success. Keeping accurate data is also critical for commercialization plans and even pitching to new funders.
Data for Future Applications
Most SBIR Phase I applicants endeavor to apply for a subsequent Phase II application. Without well kept and accurate data documenting all Phase I research activities and their success, reviewers, are unlikely to award a Phase II grant. Recording research data is an important way to ensure that subsequent funders take an interest in your project. This is true of federal funders, but also important in recruiting private funding. Businesses that demonstrate proven measures of success are much more likely to receive funding than their counterparts who can not substantiate their claims of success with data.
Imagine a potential funder that asks you how many clients your product can serve or how effective it is overall? This is fairly straightforward in a regulated setting, such as a classroom, but what happens when measuring the success of a product? It is easy to measure sales, but investors will want to know how many people who bought the product actually used it, with what frequency, and how effective it was for them. This is what makes tracking so important. It is critical to determine how product use and success will be measured before undertaking a research project. Tracking is also critical in participant studies occurring at public organizations. If you wish to demonstrate a need for a certain program, tracking participant data is necessary. Examples include community centers and youth clubs. This is why it is important to track attendance and participant activities, among other types of data.
Planning Tracking and Data Collection
Because of the crucial nature of data, the time to think about data collection is before you implement any research activities. Data collection is every bit as important as any other aspect of project planning, yet many business owners neglect it. Data can only benefit your overall project, so do yourself a favor and do not be one of these founders.
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