4 Reasons To Drop Your Experimentation Management Spreadsheet


When you are just starting an experimentation initiative in your company for the first time, you will probably have to start small and show some results before getting resources to invest in increasing the team, and in the tool stack necessary to run an experimentation process.

What most managers don’t take into account is the hidden cost of time, team engagement, and scalability that comes when you stick exclusively to a “free” experimentation tech stack past the initial phase of the experimentation program.

Once you decide to step up to an ongoing experimentation process, a management tool should be considered, and here are 4 reasons to do so:

Many experimentation teams have to get started with little resources and jump at taking advantage of existing, free, and low-cost tools. Ideating, prioritization, and experiments tracking often start with a spreadsheet.

Then, there are all the other tools you need to gather insights, execute and collect the results from your experiments, especially when you are taping at multiple touch-points across the customer journey. That can lead to a hectic process, that relies heavily on people updating a spreadsheet with information from multiple sources, or to different teams documenting their process in places that are not accessible company-wide.

Multiple tools used to manage early experimentation

When you are just starting, and you have few experiments happening, and few people involved in the experimentation process, managing the process in decentralized tools might feel manageable. However, when resources are limited, you simply don’t want to waste your team’s time navigating multiple tabs to keep the process flowing and the information about your experiments always updated.

Later down the line, when experimentation evolves to a higher volume of tests and multiple squads and objectives, then it is likely that your spreadsheet control will fall behind and slow down the process entirely. It will be much harder to scale the numbers of experiments being run, increase team size, and maintain productivity and accuracy throughout the process.

“In our case, [we started with] a complete but complex spreadsheet. Although time-consuming, it helped us a lot to create cadence, discipline, and establish our ways of work and experiment. However, we were introduced to a tool that made our lives easier. We hired the GrowthHackers Experiments tool, which is really versatile and brings a layer of automation that has increased not only the number of experiments but something more important than quantity, the quality of it. Since we have different teams from different areas working in a collaborative workspace with a crystal-clear NorthStar metric, discussions around experiments became much more focused.”

Robson Harada, Head of Growth Marketing at Itaú Unibanco

With an experimentation management tool, organizations can bring everyone running experiments into workspaces according to the way their squads and objectives are organized.

There will be one single place where employees can add ideas, prioritize them, integrate with other tools they are using, communicate and populate learnings and results automatically.

Experiments Tools sending and receiving information to multiple sources

Different squads will be able to get insights from each other, by suggesting ideas for a squad that owns a different objective. Teams working to achieve similar goals, on the other hand, can gain insights by checking another squad’s learnings. Meanwhile, leadership will be able to see what is the status of each squad, what is being tested, and what are the results.

“We use GrowthHackers Experiments for documenting all of our learnings. We have multiple regions across the world using the product, so there is cross sharing between regions and brands.”

Imteaz Ahamed, Director of Performance Marketing — Nutrition at Reckitt

If your squads are running experimentation from decentralized spreadsheets, then chances are their goals might get a little fuzzy and they will end up testing things contributing to different objectives, pulling in all directions, using different prioritization criteria, and reaching nowhere.

What you want is aligned squads working towards the same goals, putting 100% of their efforts in the same direction, instead of progressing 5% in several different directions. You want them to clearly solve an issue everyone can understand.

With a management tool, all ideas and experiments are linked to a goal that has been set by leadership, and all objectives are aligned with a North Star Metric, a key indicator chosen to represent business growth. That ensures teams are focusing on finding solutions for the right problems, and responsibilities and metrics are clear.

North Star Metric and supporting Objectives (Airbnb Example)

Selecting what experiments to run next can be callenging in a decentralized process, with each team using different frameworks and some none at all.

A management tool will allow your company to choose from multiple prioritization frameworks, or even create your own, and have everyone understanding and following the same criteria to prioritize and measure the success of experiments according to the criteria that make the most sense for your business in terms of impact, ease, team capacity, etc.

Pitching an idea, selecting the right metrics for success, and creating a hypothesis for a new experiment just won’t fit well enough into a spreadsheet cell. Or it might look wildly different depending on who is suggesting it when you are using a Trello or Jira card.

A management tool will get everyone following the same template when creating a new idea, prioritizing it, and setting up the experiment. That will allow your team to evaluate ideas much more effectively, with more information about scope, hypothesis, objectives, resources needed, and metrics to evaluate the success of each experiment.

New Idea Template from Experiments Tool

When onboarding a team member, this process will be ready, with a full idea backlog, learning center, and each step of the process following the same steps and logic. Instead of showing a new hire how to get information from each tool you use and bring it to your spreadsheet, you will have a single environment either pulling or pushing information to the rest of your tech stack. That makes scaling the number of tests you run and your team size much more manageable.

You can have your team dive through Drive folders, or Notion pages to know the details of a past experiment run by your squad or worse, by a different squad, or your company could have a centralized learning center.

Instead of being forgotten and in a “done” column, past experiments will be available for your team to investigate to get new insights and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. It is a pool of ideas that can help your team improve over time.

Experimentation learning center with customizable filters

Keeping a centralized and updated learning base will tell the story and the evolution of experimentation in your company. You will be able to see how many ideas were suggested, how many were tested, what were the objectives being tacked, how many succeeded, and if you are bringing in more learnings over time.

Growth Health Overview

Are you ready to take the next step? Then learn more about Experiments, the experimentation management tool by GrowthHackers, created based on the methodology used by Sean Ellis to breakout growth in companies like Dropbox, Eventbrite, and LogMeIn.

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