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2020 Roundup: Data Dashboards Best Practices & Examples

2020 was a banner year for dashboards. As workers shifted from the office to home, having access to vital information, valuable data, and important metrics at their fingertips was more important than ...
2020 was a banner year for dashboards. As workers shifted from the office to home, having access to vital information, valuable data, and important metrics at their fingertips was more important than ever. Across multiple industries, many platforms, and varied job roles and responsibilities, dashboards were invaluable for keeping tabs on systems and KPIs. While good dashboard design is meant to keep things simple, they should improve efficiency, save time, and still provide all the data a user needs. For some users, particularly in the age of big data and with an intense focus on tracking metrics, that’s a lot of information. For that reason, knowing how to design a dashboard with the end-user in mind is key. The bottom line is a properly executed dashboard has to be both useful and usable. Quick Links 2020 Data Dashboards Roundup Top Data Dashboard Best Practices Effective Data Dashboard Examples Transform Your Use of Data Dashboards in 2021 with BrightGauge! 2020 data dashboards roundup In much the same way as radio stations, tv stations, fashion influencers, restaurants, and even individuals reflect on the year that has passed to make a plan to look forward, our blog is doing a bit of the same. Why do we all participate in this time honored tradition? Because reflection is good. Because analyzing what we’ve done right, where we’ve been successful, allows us to recreate those wins. There’s no reason why, as businesses, as managers, as strategists, we shouldn't do the same. And, if our dashboards would do it on their own, we’d let them. Instead, let’s take a look at what went right this year. Top data dashboard best practices As noted above, the goal of any dashboard is to be both useful and usable. Keeping that in mind there are a few best practices, some familiar, some new, to consider when designing dashboards for business use. 1. Consider the end-user- First and foremost, any dashboard should be designed with the user in mind. What information is relevant to these specific user or user group? What information are they monitoring regularly and what’s the best way to deliver that information? Should it focus on operations (what’s happening now)? Analytics (performance trends)? Or strategy (KPIs)? Always design with the end-user in mind. 2. Keep it high level- On first glance, your user should see the data they need. If they need to drill down and dig deeper to get more specific information, provide an easy way to do so, but avoid cluttering a dashboard with too many cards. 3. Consider data representation elements- Not all data needs a number. Some data, particularly as you move into performance analytics and KPIs, may be better represented by a chart or a graph or a meter. For example, when considering network performance, a meter that shows a slow down in red rather than a number which measures user traffic may be more useful. 4. User design and information architecture principles- When structuring the layout of your dashboard, remember design principles and consider the importance of information. If design principles say lead with the top left corner and move in a “Z” direction, the most important data/metric should go in the top left corner and lead from there. Similarly, the temptation exists to fit as much as possible on a single screen and to use bright colors, and a lot of them, to help differentiate data sets. However, this actually runs contrary to design principles. To make a dashboard most useful, keep it simple. 5. Create context- It’s great to have charts and graphs, but label them or consider allowing a user to drill down to comparison through a simple click. Some data isn’t nearly as useful if there’s no framework around. Consider again a user traffic metric. If a dashboard reports 54 current users, that information is data and might seem useful on the surface. However, if it’s noted that bottlenecks occur at 56 users and traffic is heavy, then the context of 54/56 becomes important. 6. Consider multiple layouts- Your main dashboard should have a different appearance than dashboards that drill down or represent different users or systems. You want your user to be able to, at a quick glance, determine which “view” they’re looking at. It doesn’t have to be complex, but simple layout changes will indicate where in the dashboard a user finds themself. Applying filters to your dashboard which you can toggle on and off can help you achieve the view you're going for. 7. Optimize for accessibility- If your workers are remote or there may be need to view dashboards on a mobile device, make sure you’ve designed with that layout in mind. This may have been a tough lesson learned in 2020, but moving forward in 2021 and beyond, remote workers will need those dashboards and desktops or laptops may not be their device of choice. 8. Measure performance- We likely spend a lot of time talking about metrics, KPIs, and data regarding our businesses, we should be doing the same when it comes to a dashboard. Is it functional? Is it working? How are the end-users actually using it? As with any tool we use, we should regularly be evaluating if it’s the right tool for the job. Dashboards are no different. Effective data dashboard examples Over the course of 2020, we highlighted a few standout dashboards to share with you. Clever Ducks, an MSP out of San Luis Obispo, California focuses on clients who want to strategically use IT to cut their costs. They built a client success overview dashboard that allows them to effectively manage their customer relationships. Blending visual and informational architecture design strategies, they achieved a clean and clear dashboard that not only simplified their CRM duties, but also improved the efficiency of  client meetings. Check out their dashboard view here. If like many companies, you’re managing a remote workforce, then you likely understand the struggle of keeping track of where team members are on important objectives. At the start of the pandemic, in April, we shared our Managing to Green and Managing to Zero dashboards. As discussions of remote work continue, these are still incredibly valuable. Further, in BrightGauge, you can filter those dashboards for individual team members and share with them to ensure alignment on key objectives. Another remote work management dashboard, this time from Network Doctor based in the Northern U.S., demonstrates how a dashboard can manage a team members workload and time utilization as well as how that fits into a larger strategic picture. Not only are they managing team members and utilization, but it’s helping them handle trouble tickets in a way that fits into current team availabilities and needs. Check out their dashboard view here. While BrightGauge dashboards are great for team management, they’re also versatile enough to give a high level overview of essential KPIs and financial insights for a CEO. As demonstrated by Premier One, a dashboard like this keeps all important data in one place providing enough data for an assessment of what’s impacting a businesses revenue and what strategies will be best moving forward. Check out their dashboard view here. The final dashboard we shared with you in 2020, the Agreements Dashboard, is a great way to assess whether your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is hitting the mark. It’s a great tool for sharing a lot of key data points with executive team members regarding that MRRs as well as customer value. If your executive team and even CRO need a quick look at the customer landscape, this is a great option. Check out that dashboard view here. Transform your use of data dashboards in 2021 with BrightGauge! 2020 was full of challenges and, for some, being able to adapt your business to meet them head on may have been one of them. For many, it just meant finding the right tools, like BrightGauge dashboards, which allowed managers to keep remote teams working together and achieving team objectives. As you move into 2021, and as we adjust to this new work landscape that no doubt will continue to include remote work, stay on top of your business and team member needs with digital dashboards. To talk to someone about how we can help you inform, analyze, and strategize with BrightGauge’s customizable dashboards, get in touch today.  
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How to Hold Your HR Team Accountable with Goal Management

 Employee accountability can be a crucial part of ensuring that everyone in an organization is putting forth their best effort—driving productivity and results. While many organizations use goal setting and management to drive accountability for product development, customer service, and other “front line” staff, it’s also important to track human resources department goals and hold HR teams and leaders accountable for their responsibilities. While human resources teams are usually in charge of enforcing accountability—tracking employee performance to monitor whether employees are meeting goals or falling behind—they also need to be held accountable to help ensure that HR department goals are met. Goal management can be an integral tool for ensuring HR teams are able to demonstrate high accountability. How does goal management improve employee accountability? What are some example goals of HR managers that should be met? What about HR team goals? How goal management improves employee accountability Goal setting and management can help any team create (or improve) employee accountability in several ways: Creating a shared purpose among HR teams. Having common goals for a team helps to foster a culture of responsibility and accountability. Nobody wants to be the one person who let the department down. With shared HR goals, some HR department staff may be more motivated to help out those who are struggling with specific tasks. Enforcing individual responsibility for specific metrics. Individual employee goals help people take ownership of their work since they’re being held to a set standard. This can be just as important for HR teams as it is for “front line” employees. Giving HR professionals measurable progress targets. Sometimes, it can be hard for employees in any department to feel motivated when their goals are too big, far off, or reliant on others. Effective goal management helps create smaller, specific, and achievable goals to motivate employees that they can be held responsible for. This helps to foster accountability in all departments—including HR. 7 leadership goals of HR managers to track What types of goals should be tracked for HR leaders? What overarching human resources department goals will help increase accountability for HR leads while helping move the needle for an organization’s overall business goals? This can be tricky, since many HR goals may not be directly controlled by HR managers/execs. However, tracking these strategic HR goals can be important for identifying issues within the organization and creating strategies to improve them. Here are a few HR manager goals to consider: Cost per hire. How much does the business spend on employee acquisition per hire? HR leadership should be providing strategies for minimizing employee acquisition costs while improving retention. Voluntary employee attrition. How many employees are willingly leaving the company per month, quarter, or year? High rates of employee attrition can be indicative of a systemic problem in the organization, issues with specific managers or job roles, or flaws in the employee retention strategy. HR managers should watch for high voluntary employee attrition and devise strategies to prevent it. Time to productivity. How long after a new employee is hired does it take for them to start being productive? While there will always be some variance in how long it takes for employees to start being productive based on their job role, if the time to productivity metric for employees falls well behind the industry average, it might be time to reconsider the organization’s onboarding and employee training processes. Time to hire. How long does it take to hire an employee? While hiring timelines will vary depending on how strictly employees need to be vetted for a given role, if the time-to-hire is too long, it can hurt productivity in departments that desperately need personnel. Tracking time to hire helps HR managers stay on top of potential issues that may cause delays in the hiring process so they can suggest solutions and keep hiring timelines short. Employee satisfaction. How happy are employees with their work? Do their job responsibilities and rewards align with the expectations set during the hiring process? Tracking employee satisfaction helps HR leaders determine if there are issues that may be affecting employee retention. By creating fixes for these issues, HR managers can help increase employee retention so the organization can maintain higher productivity and minimize recruitment expenses. HR expense to revenue ratio. How much money is being spent on HR needs in comparison to the company’s total revenue. While HR is important, spend on human resources shouldn’t exceed what the organization can afford. An organization’s overall size and budget will be the primary criteria to determine what their HR spend should be. HR staff to employee/worker ratio. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) highlights this statistic as a “way to compare HR staffing levels across and within organizations.” While the ideal HR team to worker ratio may vary from one organization to the next, it should be high enough to allow employees to avoid serious bottlenecks in any given HR process, but not so high that HR team members are sitting idle. 5 goals to track for HR professionals If HR managers are mostly concerned with strategic-level goals and ensuring they can be met, what kinds of employee goals should HR team members keep track of an be accountable for? Some examples of goals that can help drive HR employee accountability include: HR service tickets closed. How many employee service tickets do members of the HR team handle each day? How frequently are employees able to get resolution for the issues they bring to HR? Tracking HR service tickets closed helps businesses keep track of how effective their HR teams are at providing important employee support services (which can help drive employee satisfaction and prevent voluntary turnover). Time to resolution for service tickets. How quickly can an HR team member resolve specific types of employee problems? Are employees going in circles getting redirected between different HR team members? If reporting issues to HR is too much of a hassle, employees may opt to avoid making reports—they’ll just quit instead. So, tracking how long HR staff members spend on resolving calls or complaints from employees can be vital. # of new hire interviews conducted. In organizations where HR team members are part of the interview process, tracking how many interviews HR personnel are part of can be an indication of how dedicated they are to supporting the hiring process. However, this metric may be less valuable for organizations that aren’t consistently brining on new employees on a regular basis. # of recruitment calls. How frequently are HR personnel reaching out to potential employees to bring in fresh talent? This is a recruitment activity metric that can help establish how much HR team members are working towards hitting recruiting goals. New hire quality. When new employees are brought on board by the HR team and have been able to become productive, how do their managers and fellow team members rate their performance? New hire quality can be an indicator of how well HR team members are vetting job applicants and preparing them for integration into the company’s culture and work processes. Need help tracking HR performance metrics and other internal statistics? Reach out to BrightGauge today to discover how you can create custom data dashboards that make tracking any department’s (or employee’s) performance fast and easy!

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Report of the Month: Profitability Analysis

Many managed service provider (MSP) owners often ask themselves one pressing question: How profitable is my business?    Tracking profitability is generally a good way to understand how well a company is doing. If you have a consistent profitability ratio, it likely means you're a resilient business, you're doing a good job of balancing your costs, and you're succeeding in generating meaningful revenue.    This month, we're looking at a Profitability Analysis report, which helps MSPs understand where they are by looking at important metrics such as: Hours spent on user tickets Agreement Health Effective Hourly Rate on Agreements Margin Percentages Other tickets details    Profitability Analysis Report - view here     Viewing an updated Profitability report on a consistent basis can help MSP owners and managers identify trends, course correct where needed, and implement new strategies to optimize the way business is done.    To recreate this report for your own team, check out the links below: Profitability Analysis Report (Public view link) Profitability Analysis Report Buildout Key    Please feel free to reach out to success@brightgauge.com with any questions you have!

How KPI Tracking Can Strengthen Your Company Culture

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) has long been a standard business practice for monitoring and improving employee performance. However, KPI tracking can also be a tool for improving an organization’s “company culture.”   As noted by Builtin, “a winning corporate culture has been shown to improve levels of employee engagement, productivity and performance.” Specifically, Builtin states that companies with the best culture enjoy “72% higher employee engagement ratings” than companies with weaker cultures.   So, how can KPI tracking be used to help improve your company culture and drive employee performance? Which company culture metrics should your business track? What are some of the best ways to use business KPIs to improve corporate culture? How KPI tracking can strengthen company culture There are a couple of ways to use KPI tracking to strengthen company culture. One method is setting business and employee KPIs that push employees to achieve excellence—creating a corporate culture that emphasizes personal achievement and results.   Another method is to track cultural KPIs in the organization to measure the strength of the company’s culture. Using the data collected on these business culture KPIs, organizations can then make changes that help to reinforce their company culture. 9 company culture metrics to track So, which key performance metrics should an organization track to boost company culture? The specific employee and business KPIs tracked will vary depending on the organization’s industry, goals, and business model.   Some KPI examples that can be used to either enhance corporate culture or track an organization’s existing culture include:   Team-specific KPI examples When trying to create a culture of excellence, many businesses focus on team or role-specific KPIs, creating KPI dashboards that display the achievements of various team members to help encourage some healthy competition and drive results. Examples of employee KPIs that can help drive corporate culture include:   Sales activity KPIs. Sales team members may be tracked on how many prospect calls they make, the number of emails they send, and other sales activity KPIs that measure how frequently they engage with leads. This helps to encourage active participation by sales team members. Service Level Agreement (SLA) metrics. Service team members may be assessed based on how well they’re matching the obligations set forth in the company’s SLAs. While it’s important to have strong SLAs to satisfy customers, they also need to be realistic based on the service team’s capabilities and resources. If the service team is struggling to keep up with an aggressive SLA, it may be necessary to adjust those goals or tweak the service team’s resources to keep them aggressive, but achievable. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR). How many customers are on recurring services that bill monthly? How well is the sales team pushing MRR services? How good of a job is the service team doing at keeping customers who are subscribed to MRR services? Having a strong MRR is a great measure of a company with an excellent corporate culture that drives both sales and service teams to succeed. Service tickets closed. How many customer service requests does the service team close each day, week, or month? This metric can serve as a decent indicator of how effective and efficient the service team is at helping clients/customers with their issues. Customer satisfaction. How happy are customers with the service they’re getting? Tracking customer satisfaction is important for gauging how well expectations are being met and whether employees are going above and beyond to provide satisfactory solutions. Company culture KPI examples Aside from tracking individual and team performance metrics, it’s also important to track whether the company’s culture is impacting employees in a positive or negative manner—and to make adjustments as needed. So, it may be important to track company culture metrics such as:   Overall Employee Engagement. How engaged are employees at work? As noted by Gallup, in the U.S., the percentage of “engaged” employees, “those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace,” is roughly 36% of all workers. Meanwhile, 13% of workers are “actively disengaged,” meaning they are miserable at work and may try to sabotage their employer’s efforts. The remaining 51% of workers lack strong feelings either way. A strong company culture helps encourage more employees to be engaged with their work and trying hard to meet or beat their goals, while preventing the creation of disengaged employees who harm the company’s efforts. Voluntary Employee Turnover. Not every employee who is thinking about quitting will report so if asked. They may not answer honestly in employee engagement surveys about how satisfied they are with their work (especially if they’re concerned about getting fired for a negative review). Looking at voluntary employee turnover statistics can help employers discover how effective their company culture is at retaining employees—and whether they need to make changes to prevent high employee attrition. Utilization Rate. How effectively do employees use their time at work? Employees who are satisfied with their work and the company’s culture are more likely to spend their time efficiently than those who are dissatisfied. Taking an employee’s hours worked on client tasks and dividing that by their total hours worked, it is possible to see how efficiently they were spending their time. So, a high utilization rate is often desirable—though it’s important to avoid burning out employees through overutilization. Employee Burnout Rate. A strong indicator of a negative corporate culture is the “burnout rate” of employees in the organization. According to Gallup, employees with high burnout “are 63% more likely to take a sick day, 13% less in their performance and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.” Gallup’s article also noted that the rate of burnout among employees who work from home all the time has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, going from 18% on average to 29% on average. Best practices for improving your company culture through KPI tracking So, how can your organization use KPI tracking to improve company culture? Here are a few tips to get you started:   1. Use company culture metrics to identify critical issues and fix them This may be easier said than done, but actually tracking company culture KPIs and using them to identify critical issues impacting employee performance and engagement at work can be a crucial step in improving corporate culture.   For example, if employee churn (and especially voluntary turnover) is high, investigate the causes of the churn to identify potential problems. This could be something like unsatisfactory work conditions, a lack of advancement opportunities, or even a toxic manager/employee driving away good workers. Finding and fixing the source of the issue is crucial for improving company culture.   2. Collect anonymous feedback from employees to fuel company culture KPIs Tracking metrics like employee satisfaction and engagement requires polling employees through workplace surveys and similar data collection tools to get feedback from them directly. However, employees need to know that their feedback will not be used against them during evaluations. Otherwise, they may sugar-coat their problems—which defeats the purpose of collecting feedback.   Anonymous surveys can help ensure that employees feel more comfortable sharing both positive and negative experiences from their work environment. This, in turn, makes it easier to identify potential issues and fix them.   3. Create public KPI dashboards to encourage competition Creating KPI dashboards to display employee performance metrics and sharing them where everyone can see can be a great way to encourage some competitiveness amongst employees. With public data dashboards, employees can see how they’re performing compared to others in the company—which can help motivate them to outdo their peers.   This helps to create a corporate culture where excellence is encouraged. Additionally, publicly recognizing top achievers and rewarding their efforts can provide further incentive for others to perform.   4. Have top performers coach their coworkers If there is an employee who is consistently outperforming their peers, then it can be helpful to have them share their strategies for success with their coworkers. This helps to encourage a corporate culture where employees share knowledge and work to support one another. Additionally, it helps spread top strategies for success throughout the organization.   Using employee KPI data to identify these top performers can be a must for ensuring future success.   Are you ready to transform your company culture with KPI tracking? Reach out to BrightGauge today to learn more about how you can leverage data dashboards and performance metrics to create a strong company culture!

Best Practices for Boosting Transparency Through Client Reporting

Transparency in business is more than just a corporate buzzword, it’s a crucial tactic for earning client trust. Client reports help managed service providers (MSPs) build transparency with their customers by sharing vital data points on a regular basis—ensuring that the client is kept aware of important developments with whatever services the MSP is providing.                                                                                                 Why does transparency matter in business? How can you create transparency with reporting automation?   Why transparency in business is essential   Transparency, or the ability to make clients feel as though you’re not hiding anything, is a critical trust-building tactic for any business. Without transparency, your business is a faceless entity—one that is readily replaceable.   Giving customers insight into your processes and results helps to demonstrate the value of what you do. It can also help to explain any setbacks that may impact your service level agreements (SLAs) or results. This can be crucial for maintaining a positive relationship with clients even when things aren’t always going right.   For example, ask yourself this: Have you ever had a problem with a service, but couldn’t get an answer out of your service provider about why there was a problem or how they planned to fix it? How frustrating was that experience for you? Now, what do you think your own clients feel if they can’t get a status update or an answer about an issue from you?   Forbes notes that one of the benefits of transparency is that it can help improve profitability. According to their article, “polls through the years indicate at least two-thirds of consumers would spend more if it meant buying from a transparent company. A stunning 94 percent rank transparency as the greatest factor in brand loyalty.” In other words, clients are willing to spend more for the peace of mind of dealing with a transparent partner and are more likely to stay long-term when they feel they’re being given the whole picture.   5 ways to increase transparency through client reporting   So, how can you use client reporting to create transparency in business settings? Here are a few tips to get you started:   Focus on the metrics that are most important to the client. While giving the client a report that has every possible key performance indicator (KPI) on it can provide value, it can also be overwhelming. Consider which performance metrics actually matter to your client based on their goals and their role and create a list of the ones that make the most sense to report on. Creating a “data dashboard” view of the client’s most important metrics to go on the first page of the report can make it easier for them to find the info they want so they can avoid wasting time going through a massive pile of statistics with every report. Use Reporting Automation. Manually compiling client reports can be a major time sink—especially if you have to gather data from multiple sources and compile it into a digestible format. Client reporting software can help to automate this task. Using a client reporting solution that can draw data from multiple sources to automatically populate a report with the appropriate metrics can save hours of time on each report and increase transparency by ensuring that each report is consistent. Customize client reports for different stakeholders on the client side. Odds are that there are multiple decision-makers or VIPs in the client’s organization that may need to see the data in your client reports. However, not all of them may need to know the exact same things. Identifying the key stakeholders who need to see your reports, verifying the specific KPIs that matter to them, and creating custom reports that address their biggest concerns with a simple KPI dashboard view can all help to massively increase transparency with your customers. Additionally, it helps demonstrate the ROI for your services to multiple decision-makers (which can be important for when the client is internally reviewing whether to retain your services moving forward). Regularly communicate with the client outside of your reports. While client reporting is important for building transparency, these reports shouldn’t be your only communication channel with clients! It’s important to speak with clients outside of these reports to get updates about new initiatives they may be launching or changes in how they evaluate success in their organization. This can help keep you updated about important changes in the client’s organization that may mean needing to track different KPI dashboards in your client reports. Keep reports consistent (unless a major change is needed or requested). From one reporting cycle to the next, it’s important to keep the reports you send to the client as consistent as possible. Keeping your report format consistent from one report to the next helps make it easier to parse for your clients because they’ll know exactly where to look for the info they want. Short of a major change or a client request, it’s best to be as consistent as possible with client reporting formats (using reporting automation and other tools can help with this)! Boost transparency with BrightGauge’s client reporting tools   Do you want to transform your client reporting process in a way that makes things faster, easier, and more consistent? If so, BrightGauge’s client reporting tools can help make you more transparent.    With BrightGauge, you can easily create custom client reports using a drag-and-drop editing tool that gives you complete control over what data the report contains and where that information appears. Data for each report can be automatically pulled in to populate the KPI dashboard and individual data points throughout the report.   BrightGauge’s reporting automation tools also allow you to schedule repeated automatic reports. Instead of having to set up each report and manually email it out to every client, you can set up a regular report once and let BrightGauge send an updated report each week, month, or quarter as needed to meet your reporting SLAs. This can be a huge time-saver for anyone who has to send a lot of client reports!   Are you ready to transform your client reporting and build transparency? Reach out to BrightGauge today to get started!

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Report of the Month: Goals and EOS Tracking

In the era of remote work, how are you bringing your team members together and keeping them focused? Many of our partners swear by using goals to combat this challenge.   Goal-setting is an effective and proven way to align team members and keep everyone marching down the same path. Maybe you're familiar with Gino Wickman's book Traction, which introduces the Entrepreneurial Operations System (EOS), a process many managed service providers (MSPs) use to grow and optimize their business. By setting goals, whether through EOS or another process, you're creating a culture of accountability that can have a really positive impact on your business.    Implementing a goal-setting system is an excellent place to start, but how are you having conversations around those goals with your whole team?   This month's report, a Goals and EOS Tracking Weekly Report, is a great way to move forward.   Goals and EOS Tracking Weekly Report - view here     This report can be used as a weekly check-in for operations meetings. It structures the meeting so the conversation is guided towards where the team stands with their goals, what's being done to meet their core values, what tasks/projects are currently open, what's overdue, and what known issues need to be addressed.   Having this weekly check-in where every team member is responsible for playing their part can have a huge impact on how productive, efficient, and overall happy your team members are.    To recreate this report for your own team, check out the links below: Goals and EOS Tracking Weekly Report (Public view link) Goals and EOS Tracking Weekly Report Buildout Key    Please feel free to reach out to success@brightgauge.com with any questions you have!

How to Use Goal Setting to Inspire Your Sales Team & Drive Revenue

Employee engagement continues to be a key driving force for meeting business goals in all industries. However, even during the record-high employee engagement rates reported by Gallup in April of 2020, less than half (38%) of all employees were engaged with their work. Also, shortly after that record high, Gallup reported a record drop in engagement of 7%. This drop brought the ratio of engaged employees to slightly less than one in three (31%).   There are many factors that go into employee engagement and inspiration—from manager attitudes and behaviors to career growth opportunities, job stability, work expectations, and more. Keeping employees inspired to do their best work can be a major challenge. However, it can be well worth it! As noted in research cited by Forbes, “engaged teams have lower turnover, 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings than disengaged employees.”   For sales teams, goal management can be a key driver for employee engagement. So, in today’s post, let’s discuss how you can use goal setting to inspire sales teams to go the extra mile and increase results. How to set sales goals that drive more revenue for your business   When setting employee goals for sales team members to meet, it can be helpful to follow a few basic best practices:   1: Keep goal timeframes short (or break larger ones into more digestible chunks)   While annual goals are important for the company as a whole to meet, pushing annual sales team goals into a sales rep’s face at the start of the year can be intimidating. For example, in another blog, when we told one of our sales reps that “his quota had almost doubled to $80,000 after last year doing $45,000 he had a minor panic attack.”   This is a natural enough of a reaction to being told to do nearly twice as much as before, and the big goal was a little intimidating. However, we broke that big annual goal into much smaller and more manageable daily and weekly goals like “10 opportunities opened per week” or “40 conversations per week” that provided a short-term goal to focus on. This way, instead of worrying about a massive end-of-year goal that might feel impossible to meet, all he had to worry about were smaller weekly process and outcome goals that all contributed to keeping him on track for that big end-of-year outcome goal.   2: Benchmark sales goals against past performance   An important part of the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goal setting framework is that a goal must be achievable for it to motivate people to work for them. But, how can you determine what is or isn’t achievable?   One way to ensure that your sales team goals are achievable is to take a look at past performance and use that data as a benchmark for future performance. This can help you set goals that are aggressive, but realistic.     3: Create accurate estimates of how long sales tasks should take before setting task-based goals   How long does it take for a sales team member to complete a successful prospect call? How long is the average failed call? When setting process goals for sales people that ask them to complete “X” actions in a day, the time it takes to complete the specified task can have a huge impact on whether that goal is or isn’t achievable.   For example, if you set a goal of “make 20 prospect calls a day,” and each call takes half an hour on average, there is no way that a sales rep will be able to meet their goal, as that’s ten hours of calls to make in an eight-hour shift.   Additionally, it’s important to leave room for some downtime between calls so the sales rep can recover mentally, take care of other tasks, and prepare for the next call. So, a goal of 12-14 calls per day might be more realistic when the average time per call is 30 minutes. This works to keep sales reps motivated so they sell more rather than give up (or try to cut corners to save some time to meet an impossible activity goal).   4: Use a goal tracking solution that provides a public data dashboard   When setting goals for sales teams, it’s important to make sure that the reps on those teams know what their goals are at all times—as well as how they and their colleagues are tracking towards those goals. Public data dashboards can be an invaluable tool for accomplishing this.   With a public dashboard displaying each sales rep’s key performance indicators (KPIs), you can ensure everyone knows how well they’re progressing towards their goals—and even encourage some healthy competition as salespeople try to one-up each other on the “leaderboard.” The 3 sales goals you should be tracking   Which sales goals should you be tracking to encourage business growth? Here’s a brief look at the top three sales KPIs your team should be tracking:   1. Closed monthly recurring revenue (MRR) for the current month and year to date For managed service providers (MSPs) that thrive on providing consistent services from month-to-month, tracking MRR is a no-brainer. Your closed MRR will tell you how well your team is selling (and how well client services is doing at retaining customers) so you can identify trends over time.   Being able to track MRR on a monthly and year-to-date basis helps you identify ebbs and flows in your sales over the course of a year—making seasonal trends clearer so you can set better goals and targets based on your company’s “busy” and “slow” periods. It can also help you determine if your company is or isn’t growing.   2. Current sales pipeline   How many opportunities are in your company’s sales pipeline at any given time? Your sales team should never be without prospects to call or leads to follow up with.   Your current sales pipeline is a measure of how many opportunities/leads are in your sales process at any given time—which can help you estimate the number of new customers your business can expect to gain.   A closely-related statistic that may be worth tracking is sales attrition rate—the number of opportunities/leads that leave your sales process without successfully closing a deal for one reason or another. If there is a high attrition rate at a specific step of the sales process, then that could indicate an issue that needs fixing.   3. Sales activity goals   A successful sales process typically involves engaging in certain activities a set number of times—such as making calls, setting up demos, and using specific sales-generating strategies.   These sales process goals help to ensure that sales team members are engaging in the key activities needed to drive success and results.   However, process goals alone may not be enough. Sales reps should also be held accountable to meet outcome goals—after all, anyone can make 20 calls a day if they aren’t putting in the time and effort to make a sale.   With outcome-focused sales activity goals, like “sign X new customers” or “generate $6,000 in net new sales each month,” sales reps can be motivated to do more than just go through the motions. Being held accountable for results and process goals gives them a roadmap of what they need to achieve and how they can achieve it. Set and monitor the right sales goals through BrightGauge’s goal management dashboards   Whether you’re tracking sales goals for a whole team or for individual sales reps, BrightGauge is here to help! We make tracking metrics like closed MRR, current sales pipeline, and sales activities quick and easy.   BrightGauge’s public data dashboards let your sales reps see their numbers at a glance, letting them know which KPIs they need to focus on to meet their personal sales goals. These dashboards are also a handy tool for one-on-one meetings with employees that give managers a convenient look at an employee’s actual performance to date.   Also, if the goals you need to track change because of a new initiative, BrightGauge makes it easy to modify the information displayed in the dashboard. With numerous integrations for different data sources, BrightGauge is easy to incorporate into your business.   Are you ready to transform your sales team performance tracking? Reach out to the BrightGauge team today!

The Hidden Costs of Employee Churn (+How to Avoid Them)

Talent acquisition and management is a constant challenge for any organization. Of particular concern is keeping the employees you’ve spent so much time, money, and energy recruiting and training with your company. Employee churn, employee turnover, employee attrition—whatever you call it, losing an employee you’ve spent time and other resources on building up to be part of your organization can hurt your bottom line. What is employee churn rate? What is the cost of employee turnover? How can you prevent employees from leaving? What is employee churn rate? A company’s employee churn rate is a measure of how many employees leave the company in a given period of time. This metric is often expressed as a percentage. For example, if a company has 150 employees, and 15 of them leave in a month, the employee churn rate would be 10% for that month. One of the challenges of dealing with employee turnover is that it can be variable by industry and job role. Some jobs, like working in a call center, have numerous stress factors that contribute to employee churn. The hidden costs of employee churn What is the cost of employee churn? The answer varies depending on the employee in question and other factors. Studies cited by organizations like Peoplekeep “predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average.” In other words, if an employee making $90k a year decides to quit, it could cost between $45k and $60k to replace them. While the “6 to 9 months’ salary” figure might seem a little high at first glance, there are numerous costs associated with replacing an employee. In fact, for some roles, the potential impact of the hidden costs of high employee churn could be even more dramatic. Aside from direct costs like marketing a job opening, onboarding the new employee, and providing training (and pay during said training), there are also hidden costs to consider, like: Lost productivity. Unfortunately, an employee’s departure doesn’t make all of the work they were responsible for go away. In many cases, the loss of an employee, especially one with hard-to-replace skills, means a significant loss of productivity. If an employee is the only person in the organization with a particular skill or knowledge set, then all of the work they were responsible for may grind to a halt until a suitable replacement is found. Even if there are other people with similar skills, taking on the workload of a missing employee on top of their own will still result in delays. This lost productivity can have a direct negative impact on your bottom line. Lost customers. For some employees and job roles (such as sales), losing the employee could mean losing access to their list of clients or the relationships that they had built up with customers. Even with a no-compete clause, there’s always the risk of customers leaving if their preferred team members leave the company. Additionally, a new hire might make mistakes that the old employee would not have—souring the customer experience and costing the company business. Negative workplace culture. One of the potential impacts of a high employee churn rate is that it could create a hostile workplace culture—one that can impact both productivity and worker health. As noted by Quartz, “Studies find that workers who fear being laid off are less safety-conscious, more likely to get injured, and less likely to report injuries.” Employees who have issues with job insecurity (from frequent layoffs, poorly-structured stacked ranking systems, and other issues) are also more likely to engage in reckless or questionable behaviors that cause problems for the organization. High churn rates can contribute to a hostile work environment that leaves employees feeling disengaged and makes people even more likely to quit. Where the direct costs of employee turnover, such as training, marketing open positions, and onboarding employees are relatively easy to calculate, the hidden costs can be more difficult to prove without really good analytics and data. For example, one way to estimate lost productivity would be to compare the new hire’s performance against key performance indicator (KPI) benchmarks set by their predecessor. This could provide a rough idea of the lost productivity caused by the loss of the original employee. A KPI tracking tool would be ideal for this. 6 ways to avoid the costs of employee churn So, how can you avoid the costs of high employee churn? Here are a few ideas: 1. Look for common issues that may cause employee churn. The most direct way to prevent the cost of high employee turnover is to prevent said turnover in the first place. A good starting point for this process is to try to identify common factors between each of the employees that left the company. For example, did the majority of them work in the same department or have the same direct report? Were they putting in a large amount of overtime? Were their KPI goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely? If many ex-employees have something in common, then that thing could be the cause of the high turnover rate. By identifying such issues, you can take steps to resolve them and (hopefully) prevent future employee attrition. 2. Check out what other companies in your industry are doing. What are your competitors doing to keep their employees? Are they doing anything to retain their top talents? You can check what others in your industry are doing to keep their best people then use that information to one-up them—either by offering an improved version of the same benefits or by covering gaps that they don’t address. This can help motivate employees to stay with your company. 3. Weed out the “bad eggs” fast. It may sound counterintuitive, but being able to quickly fire a bad employee can be crucial for reducing overall employee churn. Why? As noted in an article feature on Inc.com, “if someone is not carrying their weight without consequence it sends a negative message to the other employees.” Bad employees can negatively impact your corporate culture and lead to more widespread disengagement. If an employee is actively malicious towards their coworkers, then they may make good employees leave. Plus, by eliminating bad fit workers quickly, you can minimize the disruption and resource waste they cause by leaving. 4. Offer opportunities for employees to change roles or advance. One way to keep employees (and attract high-quality talent) is to focus on providing career development opportunities. Basically, this means offering to help employees learn new job skills so they can be promoted or move laterally into a new role if they want to try something different. This can help to keep employees motivated and engaged with their work. Additionally, it can reduce churn by giving employees who would otherwise leave to discover new career opportunities a chance to try something new without having to change employers. 5. Revise your recruitment and onboarding processes. How does your organization currently handle attracting new employees and getting them up to speed? Are there issues in the onboarding or recruitment process that might be giving potential hires the wrong impression about the work? Are the people being attracted through your current recruitment efforts a good fit for your company’s culture? Reviewing your current recruitment and onboarding process to make sure that it helps set the right expectations of new hires (and attracts the right people) can be critical for reducing employee turnover in the long run. After all, if you hire someone and their expectation is to work 9 to 5 as a software developer, but is expected to work 8 to 6 and do copywriting, graphic design, and business process optimization, they may quit in frustration if they weren’t prepared for the actual expectations of the job. 6. Provide ample recognition for major accomplishments It can be frustrating for employees to work hard to accomplish things, only to not receive any recognition or rewards when their efforts go above and beyond what’s expected of them. Employees who routinely exceed their goals may stop trying so hard after weeks, months, or years of not getting recognition for their results. Being able to track what employees are doing and rewarding those who exceed expectations can be an effective way to increase engagement and retain top talents—and saying “thank you” to a hard-working employee doesn’t cost a thing! This is why providing recognition is a goal management best practice. Are you ready to reduce your employee churn rate with BrightGauge? What does BrightGauge have to do with reducing employee churn in your organization? Using goal setting and management tools like BrightGauge can play a key role in your employee recognition and retention efforts! By using a KPI dashboard and tracking tool, you can easily monitor which employees are going the extra mile to deliver results. This, in turn, makes it easy to provide recognition for people who are generating genuine results. Additionally, by tracking KPIs for everyone in a given job role and taking a close look at the results, you can more easily identify goals that need revision. For example, if 98% of all sales reps in your organization are failing to meet a goal like “close 25 deals worth $10k each in a week,” then you might need to revisit that goal and make it more realistic. On the other hand, if everyone is meeting that goal with room to spare, then you might need to make it more aggressive. By accurately documenting real performance and process metrics with BrightGauge, you can show employees where they need to improve in greater detail. This can help with your performance improvement plan (PIP) creation so you can improve productivity without having to onboard a new employee from scratch. Are you ready to step up your employee retention and performance management? Reach out to the BrightGauge team today!

How MSPs Can Boost Growth Through The Right KPI Dashboards

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is a long-proven tactic for improving employee productivity. Using tools such as data dashboards, companies have motivated their employees to achieve greater results with more consistency, which has helped them with enterprise growth. Why should your organization use KPI dashboards? Which business KPIs will help with your enterprise growth? Why growing enterprises should leverage KPI dashboards Growing enterprises often have numerous business objectives that they need to track—and not a lot of time to manually manage that data! KPI data dashboards help to simplify tracking and managing employee KPIs and business KPIs so leaders can check performance with a glance. Instead of having to dig through several separate reports to track all of an employee’s or business unit’s performance metrics, leaders can simply take a look at a data dashboard to get the most relevant and important information in seconds. This information is also easy to collect for reports to key stakeholders who may need it. With easy access to performance data, enterprises can identify trends (both positive and negative) and make changes to account for them. For example, if employees are struggling to meet a particular performance goal, it may be necessary to provide coaching to ensure employees have the skills they need to perform. What business KPIs should you track to boost enterprise growth? Many business owners, leaders, and stakeholders want to know which business KPIs they should track to improve their enterprise growth. The problem is that there is no true “one size fits all” solution when it comes to KPI tracking. Different enterprises will need to track different things to achieve the best growth results. It takes an understanding of your business’ objectives and industry to determine the best KPI dashboards to use in your organization. Additionally, the KPIs you track for one business unit might not be a good fit for others in your company. Here are a few KPI examples to consider when choosing performance metrics to track in your organization: Project KPIs These are KPIs specific to a particular project that is going on. Two important project KPIs to consider include: Billable project hours. A measure of how many hours are spent on a given project in a set time frame. Managed service providers (MSPs) may use this metric to determine if they’re over-billing for a project (potentially indicating that they under-scoped the project). Overbudget projects. How many projects are currently over-budget? This metric can help provide an assessment of how well the company is managing its budget for projects and create early indications of issues that may cause the balance book to go into the red. Customer service KPIs KPIs related to how customers are being serviced. Customer service KPIs can help MSPs and other organizations determine if they’re meeting their service level agreements (SLAs) or if they need to make changes. Some customer service KPI examples include: Time to resolution. How long it takes for a service ticket or customer call to be resolved. This is often used to measure employee performance. Tickets/Cases closed each day. How many client/customer calls or tickets are resolved in a day? Measuring this can help identify potential problems with resolving customer service cases in the enterprise that need resolution. Customer complaint rate. The number of customers who have reached out to make a complaint about a product or service received versus the total number of customers. High complaint rates may indicate a major issue with a given product or service (or how it’s marketed) that needs to be fixed. Financial KPIs Every enterprise needs to carefully track and manage its financial performance data. Having the right financial KPIs can help business leaders anticipate their expenses, avoid potential over- and under-budgeting for key initiatives, and set expectations. Some financial KPIs to track for enterprise growth include: Past due receivables amount. Also called “accounts receivable,” the past due amount is an important metric to track so you can know how much payment to expect from clients. Tracking which accounts are past due is also important for reconciling payments with your clients. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). This metric is useful for determining your organization’s financial health. Numerous companies have used this metric to determine employee bonuses for the year. Gross margin per client. A measure of your company’s total revenue minus its direct costs (licenses, software, etc.) and fully loaded labor cost, which is then divided by total revenue to generate the gross margin percentage. Here’s the formula: (Total revenue – direct costs – fully loaded labor costs) / total revenue = gross profit margin. Marketing KPIs Marketing is an important activity for making sure your enterprise’s brand gets in front of potential clients/customers. Marketing KPIs help enterprises establish the ROI of their marketing efforts, determine what is and isn’t working for their marketing, and identify issues that might be causing potential customers to leave the sales funnel. Some marketing KPI examples to track include: Cost per lead. A measure of how much money is spent on marketing to generate a single lead. Calculated by dividing total marketing spend by the number of leads generated. Customer lifetime value. A measure of how much a single customer is worth to your company over their lifetime. Useful for determining how much should be spent on marketing for each customer. Email deliverability. This is the number of emails sent successfully versus those that fail to be delivered or get sent to the spam folder. Failed deliveries can negatively impact your enterprise’s ability to send emails in the future, so this is an important metric for marketing leads to know. Drive enterprise growth with BrightGauge’s comprehensive KPI dashboards While the KPI example list shown above is far from comprehensive, it should provide a rough idea of how many different KPIs there are for companies to track. How can you track so many disparate business KPIs? BrightGauge’s KPI dashboards are one way to track numerous metrics at a glance! With BrightGauge, you can easily customize a data dashboard to present the most important metrics for your business unit or your company as a whole. Instead of digging through a dozen different data sources and apps, you can have BrightGauge collect everything you need to know into a single-pane view that is easy to parse. Are you ready to get the data you need to fuel your enterprise’s growth? Reach out to the BrightGauge team today!

New Integration: NinjaRMM

This one's been a long time coming!   We're excited to announce that we now offer NinjaRMM as an integration for our partners to connect with.   NinjaRMM is a remote monitoring and management tool that was designed to provide IT professionals with all the support they need to manage their client's endpoints.    When you integrate BrightGauge + NinjaRMM, you'll get a single-pane-of-glass view of the important RMM metrics that impact your day-to-day decisions.    What do I get out of the box?   We know how helpful it is to have access to your data as soon as possible, and you may not have time to build out custom gauges right off the bat. Instead, we’ll help you get started by providing pre-built gauges, dashboards, and reports with every datasource we offer.   With NinjaRMM, you will get 25 gauges, one default dashboard, one report template when you open an account.    Gauges   With your 25 default gauges - or key performance indicators (KPIs) - you can easily keep an eye on metrics like most installed applications, active AV threats, devices with failed patches, drive disk space used, servers offline, and more KPIs relating to workstations, servers, and machines. Knowing the status of these KPIs helps you stay proactive and combat your client's issues before they become real problems.    Dashboard     The NinjaRMM default dashboard is all about machine monitoring and shows you your relevant machine KPIs on one screen. Just glancing at this dashboard can give you an accurate picture of your client's health and can quickly show you areas that may need addressing.    Report     Sending out consistent and regular client reports is our favorite way to build a relationship built on trust and transparency with our clients, which can ultimately lead to long-term business. We help you get started with one report template covering the important machine monitoring KPIs your client will care about. It's easy to customize this template as you wish (or leave it as is) and schedule it to automatically send out on a recurring basis. By doing so, you'll make sure your client is always in the loop!   Again, our integration with NinjaRMM is now live and ready for you to connect with.    Read our support documentation for information on connecting your account to NinjaRMM, or feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.    

7 Ways to Use Automation to Transform Your Client Reporting

Client reporting—the practice of sending reports about important activities and key performance indicators (KPIs) to clients to help build transparency and trust. For managed service providers (MSPs), generating reports for clients is an important part of managing client relationships. With a well-made report, MSPs can show exactly how they are (or aren’t) meeting their service level agreements (SLAs). However, manually assembling these reports can be a big time sink for MSPs—especially when there are a lot of relevant metrics and activities that need to be tracked. Automated client reporting tools, such as BrightGauge’s reporting feature, can be a massive time-saver and transform the client reporting process. How automation is transforming the reporting process Think of the classic client reporting solution—the old Excel (or some other spreadsheet software) sheet with a bunch of numbers or a Word doc template with a bunch of spots for key data points. The issue with this is that entering the data that populates this sheet is a manual process. It takes someone significant time and effort to: Track down all of the necessary information; Copy said information into the right spots of the spreadsheet/report; and Review the document to make sure everything is correct and nothing is missing. In addition to being time-consuming, doing everything manually may result in important information being missed or entered incorrectly—which is less than ideal when sharing a report with clients. Client reporting software and automation solutions are changing things by making the process of generating reports less time-consuming and more consistent. Instead of having to enter data manually, report automation solutions like BrightGauge allow users to connect a few data feeds to automatically populate a customized report—then send that report on a set schedule as needed. Now, instead of having to spend hours poring over different data sources, MSPs can set up a bit of reporting automation and not have to think about it again—unless there’s a change in the metrics the client needs to see. 7 best practices for using automation in your client reporting While report automation can be a big boon for transparency and improving customer satisfaction, it’s important to use that automation the right way. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of reporting automation: Identify the data that’s most important to the client getting the report. MSPs have limited time—but so do their clients. Sending an automated report that’s chock full of all kinds of data sounds impressive, but if that information isn’t valuable to the client, then it’s a waste of their time to read it. So, it’s important to consider which data points are of the most interest to the client in question, and to customize the report so that only that information is presented to them. Add a data dashboard to the report. Creating a report format with a kind of KPI dashboard-like appearance that puts all of the most valuable information on a single page can be really helpful. How? It makes important data points more digestible and accessible in the report. Instead of digging through several pages of information, the data about the client’s biggest concerns can be presented front and center—which many clients will appreciate. Share the good and the bad. It might be tempting to alter which form fields are in a client report to highlight the successes and downplay shortcomings. However, this doesn’t build transparency. It’s important to share the good and the bad with clients in the report so they can see that nothing is being hidden. Then, on calls with clients, it may help to address the potential reasons for the shortcomings and identify ways to improve results for the next report. Identify all of the key stakeholders in the client’s organization. Who is responsible for what in the client’s organization? Are reports reaching all of the right stakeholders to keep important people in the loop? Get a list of all the key stakeholders that need to see the reports being generated and ensure that they’re all on the email list for the automated report send. Consider customizing client reports for different stakeholders. Not every stakeholder in an organization cares about the same things. Some may need to know about different things as part of their job. So, creating variations of the client report template for different departments and stakeholders can do a lot to improve communication. Some stakeholders may really appreciate getting a customized report—even if sending it costs no extra time or effort at all after the first one! Periodically revise the KPIs in the report. Client needs may change over time. For example, if a major client goal was to “Generate X Leads” in Q1 and they met that goal, then in Q2, the goal might shift to “Close X Deals” instead. As clients meet goals or start new initiatives, the KPIs they need to track may change. Revising your client reporting software’s settings so that they are consistently presented with the KPIs they currently need to know is important for keeping clients happy and informed. Verify the best time to send reports. When is the most convenient time for a report to hit a client’s inbox? Taking the time to ask clients when they prefer to receive their reports can be a great way to earn some appreciation and make things easier on the client. These are just a few best practices for using reporting automation to share important business KPIs with clients. For more information about using report automation tools, KPIs, and data dashboards, check out the Best Practices blog. Experience greater client success through BrightGauge’s client reporting tools Need a client reporting solution that you can use to easily automate your client reports so you can save time and headaches? BrightGauge’s client reporting tools are here for you! With BrightGauge, you can easily modify your client report templates and set up customized reports for different clients or even different stakeholders within the same organization. The automated report can pull data from multiple data sources and collate them all into an easy-to-read format for your clients to peruse. Select what data you want to share, organize it how you want, and pick out how often the report should be sent—then kick back and relax as BrightGauge’s software takes over. Are you ready for a simple and effective client reporting solution? Then reach out to the BrightGauge team today!

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