Here at Iteratively, we believe that data is a team sport and building an analytics culture is an ongoing process🏅. Tracking plans should be collaborative by nature, helping your business organize a single source of truth on what matters to your business.
A few vendors have already created their own templates to use when getting started with a tracking plan. These templates allow you to reduce the headaches involved in creating a tracking plan from scratch and what’s great about using templates is the ability to choose one based on your industry.
However, static tracking plan templates do have their limitations. There is no way to enforce that what's in the plan is actually in the product, often leading to a mis-match between the events and properties you see in your tracking plan and what is actually instrumented (we talk more about the limitations of static tracking plan templates below).
Determine what you need to track
Tracking plans are like shoes. They come in different sizes yet serve the same purpose 👟. They should be unique to your business and help you answer questions about what you are trying to achieve for your organization.
A good tracking plan will answer these three questions:
- What are the metrics we care about as a company?
- What data is needed to answer those metrics?
- How should I structure my data to easily answer those metrics?
- Bonus: How can I ensure the data being captured is trustworthy?
When putting together a tracking plan, it is best to start with listing your goals, followed by outlining your metrics and determining what events and properties you need to report on that metric properly. If your goals, metrics, and events are not aligned, you’ll likely end up tracking data not necessary to your business and missing out on events that are crucial to your organization.
To learn more about creating a tracking plan, refer to these two previous posts we have published, where we cover how to create a tracking plan for your organization and best practices to follow when creating or evolving your analytics tracking.
Pick the right tracking plan template based on your needs
There are plenty of tracking plan templates out there, and some of them are designed toward specific industries. Before examining the different templates, let's break down what to look out for and what to customize with your tracking plan template.
What to look out for:
- A tab that contains overall business objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Column must-haves are event name, description, property name, property type, source, version, owner, platform, side (client or server), priority level, and code snippet.
- Sample data that can help you figure what to start with.
- Detailed instructions on how to get started with that tracking plan.
- Question-forming guidelines that help your team when asking questions about your users/products. We like this example from Amplitude: For users that favorited artists during sign-up, how many of those engaged with the favorite artist’s playlist?
What to customize:
- Events, descriptions, sources, and properties that align with your overall KPIs. It would be best if you made these as detailed as possible.
- Your overall business objectives to help your team stay on track.
If you’re a SaaS business
This SaaS Mixpanel tracking plan template is broken down into three sheets—one for your business objectives, one for your analytics strategy, and your tracking plan. If you are just getting started with creating a tracking plan, this is a great place to start, but note that, over time, your tracking plan could be too hard to manage this way.
Segment has a great template for companies in the SaaS industry as well. The template allows you to describe the event, align properties to that event, and even select the priority level to the organization. This template works best if you are already using Segment as your customer data platform.
If you’re an e-commerce company
Amplitude created a template that includes suggested events and properties common for companies in the e-commerce industry. This is a great resource to use when getting started with a tracking plan, and it can easily be built on later.
Tracking plan templates for any industry
Amplitude put together a basic tracking plan template that can apply to a variety of industries. What is nice about this tracking plan is the use-case tab that helps you answer business questions and put together a well-formed question.
Mixpanel has a blank tracking plan that you can access here if you want to create one from scratch. While it might take you some time to put together, this is best for someone who wants to customize their tracking plan based on their specific needs.
Determine who should own your tracking plan
Now that you have determined which tracking plan template to use, the last step is to assign ownership over the tracking plan. But why should you assign ownership over the tracking plan? If too many stakeholders are involved, it becomes shared and does not have a team or individual owner who takes full responsibility.
The owner is empowered to drive results from the data, leading to accountability and, ultimately, users trusting the data. Who owns the tracking plan usually depends on the industry and the size of the company. We strongly believe that the product team should own the tracking plan, as event tracking should be tied to every product launch 😎.
Make the event tracking plan part of your development process
We have talked about this before, but we cannot stress enough how important this is; the biggest enemy of introducing a new process is a lack of buy-in. In order to make analytics tracking part of your development process, you need buy-in from leadership and relevant stakeholders that prioritize tracking plans for your organization.
To generate buy-in, all key stakeholders should be invited to be involved in determining the process since everyone needs to be on board as you make it part of your culture.
The limitations of static tracking plan templates 👈
While tracking plan templates are a good place to start, they do have their limitations:
- Hard to keep up to date: Since they don’t live alongside your workflow, the template often gets lost in the mix, updates are forgotten, and it becomes unclear whether tracking was implemented or not.
- Hard to version: Tracking plans can become very complex and hard to manage as more people get involved. With more people involved, the list of potential problems grows, such as someone overwriting another user’s changes. Note: Iteratively makes versioning as easy as it is in Git 😎.
- There is no way to enforce that what’s in the plan is actually in the product: This situation happens quite often, and it might even sound familiar. This problem occurs when there is a lack of culture around analytics tracking, and it is pushed aside. Note: Iteratively helps you ditch your static tracking plan by enforcing the schema in code, ensuring it is not ignored by developers.
Start tracking with Iteratively today
Tracking plan templates are a great place to get started if you are new to implementing tracking plans. However, this does not solve the problem of making a tracking plan part of the developer workflow. That’s why we built Iteratively – to help data teams, product managers, and engineers define, instrument, and collaborate on their analytics tracking.
Iteratively creates a single source of truth for your analytics, ensuring that data consumers trust the information. We empower product managers to take ownership of their tracking plan. Try out Iteratively for your company by creating an account or booking a demo with one of our team members to learn more.