A yardstick report is one that looks at multiple solutions to a problem. By defining the criteria with which a solution is chosen, each possible solution is then explained and a recommendation is made. Basically, the yardstick is the way to measure several solutions to see which is best for a particular problem when there is more than one option. In the end, one solution is recommended based upon the facts and how it best fits into the criteria.
Identify the problem at the beginning of the report
Identify the problem at the beginning of the report, by clearly stating the problem at hand.
List all possible solutions to the problem. For example, the company trying to choose appropriate advertising for a new product can choose to advertise with television ads, print ads in the newspaper, Internet advertisements, radio advertisements or billboard advertisements.
Define criteria by which to choose a solution. This may mean including or excluding aspects of a solution. The criteria must be specific enough to narrow down the solutions. For example, the criteria for choosing an advertising method might include limited funds, broad appeal, and a desire to direct people to a website where they are able to purchase the specified product.
Compare each solution to the criteria. It is important that the analysis of each option be thorough and clearly explained. For example, television advertising would be expensive, but targets a wide range of people. Newspaper ads would target only a specific region of people, but would cost less. Internet ads would target a wide range of people and the budget can be adjusted as needed. Internet ads can also send people directly to website. Radio ads can reach a wide variety of people, but only in a specific geographic area and can cost a good deal of money. Billboard ads can be made cheaply with small roadside signs, but the size is limited and people driving by may not remember the web address.
Decide on a solution and make a recommendation. At this point, the facts should make the recommendation clear. In our example, Internet advertising makes the most sense, as it fulfills all the criteria.
If a recommendation is not easy to make, add to the criteria in order to narrow down the solutions further.
Be clear and specific when evaluating each solution. Do not force the reader to make a leap of understanding by not explaining why a solution is included or excluded.