By: Erica Anderson Posted On: February 24, 2020
As it’s early in the new year (and decade!), I want to reflect on what lies ahead in terms of data collection and Metrics. FMC’s 2020 priorities and direction for Metrics stem from us learning that direct work with Metrics users early in the process gets a much greater return in user satisfaction than continuing to develop more new software features..
The first two years of work on the Metrics software were characterized by the fast-paced development of new features, especially for network-level users (often state or regional farmers market associations) and incorporating vendor level data collection. However, after conversations with our network market operators that are collecting data in the field, we have refocus our priorities. Starting in 2020, FMC will primarily work to build market organizations’ capacity for data collection, analysis, and use rather than developing instruments of data collection. Of course, we still want the Metrics platform to be practical, functional, and easy to use. We are continuing to fix bugs and polish our wishlist of new features, but the software is not likely to change drastically over the next year. We also remind everyone that Farmspread remains our primary partner for those interested in using sophisticated vendor data management software that also adds content to Metrics. Check their site, farmspread.com for more information.
Over the next year, we are working on several projects to help markets build capacity for data collection:
- Technical Assistance – Aligning with FMC’s strategic plan, our goal is to work more directly with market operators. Whether it’s getting new users up and running with Metrics, working more closely with markets in a specific Network, or customizing a summary report, technical assistance resources are getting an upgrade in 2020. We will release more information on the changing opportunities as it becomes available. In the meantime, please read our Training and Technical Assistance Director’s blog on this work in 2020.
- Redesigning the Metrics Guide site – While we would like to have more direct contact with Metrics users, we also want there to be a central place to look for resources on data collection at farmers markets. Things to look forward to on the Guide site in 2020: more video trainings, a lot of “getting started” content, and more resources for people who don’t want to use the Metrics platform but still want to use our methods and tools. We want to make sure that no matter what stage you are at in terms of data collection and whatever needs you have for data management software, there are resources available for you at FMC.
- Redesigning the Metrics Clinic – In the past, we offered 30 minute digital “office hours” on Monday afternoons once per month for people to drop in and ask questions. In 2020, we are generating a schedule of presentations to integrate into these calls, followed by time for Q&A. For those who can’t tune in live, we will record the calls and post them on the Guide site. The Clinic is a key opportunity for Metrics users to talk directly with FMC staff, so we want it to be productive. Please check the Guide site for steps to be added to the Google calendar invitation but do remember: this opportunity is for Metrics users.
The biggest change that lies ahead will affect Network leaders. Network leaders – thank you for the time you have spent helping us refine Metrics and your hard work to advance the interests of your member markets. Network membership is evolving to include more direct support to market operators in your Networks, and changes to access to the Metrics site:
- We are shifting our focus solely to Market Organization users within the Metrics site. This means we are closing down Network accounts. Network accounts were originally built to allow Network leaders to aggregate member market data, though conversations over the last year, we’ve found that this purpose has not been successfully met. In order to provide the best service to market operators, and best outcomes for increasing data collection within the sector, at this time FMC must steward our resources aroundd users that are directly utilizing the tool for market data collection and report. We are working with Network leaders to ensure Networks to continue to have access to the aggregate data they need.
- We are updating a Network agreement around training, check-ins, and technical assistance that will define what Network membership looks like under our new system. This new agreement with highlight FMC direct support options for market operators in a Network and how we can unburden Network leaders of training, troubleshooting, and more.
It has been a great honor to join the team at FMC, to start getting to know markets and organizations across the country, and to get the opportunity to dream big about what farmers market data collection can look like.