Monday, February 11, 2008

Norms and Ratios

Back in early December 2007, I sent out an email to the advisor population of the New York State SBDC. It concerned how advisors used norms and ratios data when working with clients. Over 120 people were asked this question, and I received 37 responses.

What I didn't do, obviously, was tell you about the answers.

In short, the question was this: We at the library typically provide you with the last three calendar years of norms and ratios data. We have four distinct sources for this information, but "norms and ratios" has seemingly become synonymous with "RMA". Did you, however, actually need three years' worth, or was the most current year enough?

Four were squarely on the fence, where one year or three years applied, depending on the circumstances. Of the remaining 33, there were 19 who said that one year was more than adequate, while the other 14 said that three years of data was still necessary.

Back in the early 90s, in the infancy of our library, we asked the advisor population of the time the same question, and the large majority said "three years". That's why it became policy.

Given the underwhelming majority of the "one year" votes, however, I'm not inclined to change our long-time policy. We'll continue to provide three years of data. If you don't need it, then you're (obviously) not obliged to use the older stuff.

Some surveys, then, don't result in any changes at all. Thanks to all who responded, and my apologies for taking this long to letting you know how things panned out.

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