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The BrightGauge Blog

7 Ways to Use Client Reporting to Improve Your MSP

Transparency. We stress it often because it’s a core value of who we are. Likewise, we think it should be a core value of your business because it’s a simple way to build, maintain, and enrich your ...
Transparency. We stress it often because it’s a core value of who we are. Likewise, we think it should be a core value of your business because it’s a simple way to build, maintain, and enrich your business relationships with both clients and employees. And, if you’re an MSP, the very heart of your business, the way it grows, is through those relationships. It’s why we talk about transparency and the best mechanism you have at your disposal to provide that: reporting. Quick Links What is client reporting? What is automated reporting? How automation is transforming the reporting process Why reporting is important for your MSP 7 best practices for automated reporting for your MSP Experience greater client success through BrightGauge’s client reporting tools What is client reporting? Client reporting is 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). What is automated reporting? While client reporting is essential to managing client relationships, 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. Automated reporting enables you to identify and compile specific metrics or data into a template and automatically send it to the necessary individuals as pre-programmed intervals (like once a week or once a month).  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. Except entering the data that populates either of those sheets is a long 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, manual data entry is highly susceptible to human error. That 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. And, that also means you’ve got more time for other jobs or even more reporting for clients, employees, or supervisors. In addition to the benefits for you, your client also sees benefits in knowing what to expect, when to expect it, and exactly what’s going on with the services you’re providing.   Why reporting is important for your MSP One of the best tools for an MSP is reporting. You’ll find no shortage of MSPs industry sites and blogs touting the importance of quarterly reporting and make no mistake, the quarterly business review (QBR) is important. However, you don’t want the QBR to be the primary touchpoint for your client relationship. In fact, if things are going well, your services can be largely invisible and so you want to take the opportunities you can to reinforce the services you provide regularly, not just quarterly. Not only does regular reporting serve as a reminder of your service quality, but it also opens opportunities for follow-up communication and the kind of trust and transparency that builds relationships. 7 best practices for automated reporting for your MSP  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 and services may change over time. For example, if a major goal with a client was to decrease ticket response times in Q1 and that goal was met, then in Q2, the goal might shift to decreased open tickets instead.  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 your MSP clients.    Experience greater client success through BrightGauge’s client reporting tools 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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Using Dashboards and Reports to Motivate Your Team

Whether it was a basketball hoop over the trash bin, a Rubik’s cube, or any other myriad desktop distractions, keeping employees motivated and focused has been complicated for decades. When we add in the internet, social media, streaming video, smartphone games and more, it can be a struggle for employees and supervisors alike. With so many distractions surrounding us at all times, it’s easy to lose sight of the task at hand. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be the manager who’s on top of their team all day - and realistically, let’s also acknowledge that mental breaks are necessary - still, there are tactics you can employ to wrangle your team’s attention back to what matters most, especially when you have goals to hit! Quick Links Why motivation matters Motivating remote teams How reports can motivate Setting up a team report How dashboards can motivate How your MSP can use dashboards and reports to motivate your team Why motivation matters   Think about the last goal you set. Did you achieve it? Whether you answer yes or no isn’t as important as the follow up question which is "Why did you succeed or fail?" If the goal you set was S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), your success or failure likely hinged on your motivation. You may have wanted it in the same way your employees want a raise, or compensation, or recognition, but if you weren’t truly motivated, you wouldn’t have put in the daily work needed to get things done. That’s the bottom line. That’s why motivation matters in the long run. Motivation helps you achieve your goals and reap the rewards, but it does so much more. In addition to achieving goals and potentially earning additional benefits, motivated employees are:   More likely to feel happier at work Demonstrate increased productivity Easier to lead Less likely to leave More likely to trust leadership (which can lead to buy-in on initiatives)   In short, more than getting things done, motivation matters because it energizes your workplace in all the right ways. And then, when you hit your business goals and your employees realize their individual goals, it’s a perpetuating cycle of success. Who doesn’t want that? Motivating remote teams With the increase in remote work and work from home situations in a post-Covid world, concerns about productivity have waned a bit as research suggests employee productivity has remained high. Instead, work from home concerns seem to have shifted to employee engagement, motivation, and happiness. More specifically, realizing that many employees were happier working from home, the remote work shift, for many, became permanent. However, the struggle to keep employees engaged and motivated remains. Working from home may make employees happier and may not significantly impact their productivity, but it does mean they’re more likely to be challenged by distractions and other motivations. So how does your organization and leadership keep remote workers motivated? While traditional systems of motivation such as rewards and compensation are effective, data suggests that there are some non-traditional methods that we tend to overlook. Among those methods are including your team in goal setting. On its own, it’s a fantastic way to get buy-in from your employees, but there’s more to it than that. It’s not enough to engage them in the goals they’ll strive for, but you’ve also got to keep them updated on progress. You can even build rewards into that progress. Celebrate hitting milestones. It’s one reason reporting is beneficial not just to clients or superiors but also to your own team. How reports can motivate Consistently sending custom weekly reports to your team lets them keep important metrics at their fingertips reminding them of their goals and targets and will keep them all walking on the same path. Reports are a powerful way to drive productivity and they take almost no time to set up within BrightGauge, so the payoff is big. Not only does regular reporting help your individual team members (and teams) keep tabs on individual and overall progress, but disclosing the ins and outs of your business by sending reports helps team members feel like they’re stakeholders in your company. In turn, this creates a strong sense of purpose around the work they do. The truth is, everything trickles down from the top, so what leadership preaches, your team will practice.   Further, weekly reports put transparency into practice at all times. As we’ve discussed before, transparency is vital to building and nurturing strong relationships.   When all employees have visibility into the hard data that drive your operations, it’s empowering. They’ll get clarity into where things stand: Are there areas where the business is excelling? What could use improvement? Are we meeting the numbers that’ll keep us on track with our KPIs? What’s our projected revenue looking like?   Having answers to these questions (and so many more) leaves no room for speculation. Just think about the power in that. Speculation often leads to gossip or rumors or feelings of uncertainty about one’s performance and position… in other words, speculating is super distracting and has the potential to impact morale and motivation. Weekly reports refocus team members and motivate them to work hard on being successful (a much more valuable use of time). Setting up a team report What you include in your reporting is going to vary from team to team, but you want to include metrics that are relevant to each team member’s role. For that reason, each department lead should make an effort to generate reports for their own team. For example, if you're the MSP’s service team lead, your weekly report should probably focus on the previous week’s ticket stats. You might include data like: service team leaderboard (which looks at how each individual’s performance stacked up against the rest of the team), tickets opened, tickets closed, average response time, and customer satisfaction scores. In contrast, if you head up the sales team, weekly reports might include: opportunities won, deals closed, sales pipeline, dials made, and monthly recurring revenue.   Regardless of team, it’s also a good idea to include some general company metrics that all employees could benefit from seeing, such as revenue to date, progress on goals, total number of clients, etc.     Pro tip: make sure these reports are impactful, but easy to digest. They’re meant to refocus your employees, but you don’t want to take too much time away from their to-do lists. They should be able to analyze these reports in just a few minutes, while still coming away with important insights. When should I send weekly reports to my team? We should point out that we’re recommending weekly reports, but if you feel it’s better to send them on a daily or monthly basis, that’s cool! Trust your judgment. In any case, we generally like sending reports at the same time on the same day because it creates a  routine. If you send your reports every Monday at 8AM, your team will come to expect that report in their inbox and it can set the tone for the remainder of the week. A lot of decision makers and business managers are apprehensive about reports because they take way too much time to generate. That’s only true if you’re using Excel or doing everything manually. But if you use a business intelligence tool like BrightGauge, you can create really powerful reports in just a few minutes. Once you set up your report the first time, you can save it as a template and schedule it to automatically send out to the recipients you want on the date and time you choose.    Now that you have reports set up, it’s a good idea to investigate what other business intelligence tools you can utilize to further motivate your employees. For example, using real-time dashboards, you can hold everyone accountable to KPIs on a weekly basis so nothing falls through the cracks. Not only do your customers stay happy, but you also keep your whole team on the same page.   How dashboards can motivate As we've discussed in the past, the first step to getting your team aligned is setting goals and, as noted above, your team should help set those goals. Make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. goals as well! Next, decide what you want to track and how you will get there (process goals). Set the cadence of your goals by establishing KPIs that need to be achieved by each team member. Be careful about over-assigning KPIs. Combine and condense where you can so that team members don’t get bogged down with tasks. Stay focused on the tasks that help you achieve larger organizational goals (outcome goals).   So how does this all help motivate? It helps in a few ways. Again, what motivates one team member may stand in stark contrast to what motivates another and so finding what works is a bit of mixed bag. For some, the connection that dashboards create by providing a visual representation of group goals is a motivator. These are folks who love to be part of a team and who connect through shared goals. For them, part of the motivation is making sure they’re doing their part. In contrast, for others, competition can be a great motivator. If you think your team (or certain members) would be motivated by being #1 on a leaderboard, then using dashboards for real-time tracking can add some much-needed fun and healthy competition to the room. Add leaderboards to your dashboards and position your screens in a central location where they are visible to everyone or simply share them at the start of every week! Your team will love seeing the numbers go from red to green and racing to the top! And, when the dashboard shows that KPIs are being met and goals are being achieved, make sure you celebrate with your team. With the right accountability and visible markers of success through BrightGauge’s dashboards, nothing will fall through the cracks. If you build in team and individual incentives, you can do even more with this. Remember, keeping your team connected can be a vital part of the motivation process. Build team spirit through team building opportunities.    How your MSP can use dashboards and reports to motivate your team If you’re an MSP, you can’t afford for anything to go overlooked. That means delivering for your clients and keeping your team motivated to do so. It should be no surprise that tracking your goals and sharing that information with your team is one of the best ways to keep everyone motivated. After all, you report to your clients, to your supervisors/leadership, why not your team? Whether it’s coaching a team or leading a business, feedback is important. Letting team members know where improvements are needed while celebrating successes gives them the drive to keep striving towards a goal. There’s no better way to do it than with dashboards that provide quickly digestible data and feedback and automated reports to reinforce the feedback.  That’s where we come in. BrightGauge’s tools provide you with fully customizable dashboards that allow you to provide all the feedback you need to teams and individuals alike. Our reporting tools allow you to automate reports and send them to the people who need them when they need them, whether that’s weekly or monthly. If you’re ready to talk about how our solution can help you keep your team motivated, whether they’re remote or not, and help your MSP reach its goals (and more!), then get in touch with our team today!

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Julia Sos Joins BrightGauge as Technical Partner Success Manager

We’re excited to welcome Julia Sos to the team as a Technical Partner Success Manager! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family.   In the beginning   Julia was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Right before second grade, her dad’s company relocated to West Palm Beach, which is when Julia realized she was born to be a beach gal – she can’t get enough of palm trees and muggy weather. After just four years in West Palm, the company moved back to Cincinnati, much to the disappointment of Julia and her sister! Guess they couldn’t handle the heat.   After high school, Julia set her sights on a bigger city, and became a Drexel Dragon. Fun fact: this campus was once considered the ugliest in the Northeast! She loved being in Philadelphia and living close enough to New York City to work and play, without having to devote all of her money towards rent in NYC.   After college, Julia worked for a textile design company, traveling to cities across the US and Europe to consult with fashion designers. She loved it, but after three years was ready for a new challenge. When on vacation in Miami once, she thought, “What if I just moved here?” and she made it happen.   Joining BrightGauge   Prior to joining BrightGauge, Julia worked with a Commercial Embroidery Machine manufacturer as an onboarding specialist. At the time of her hire, she was the only person in the company who would train clients on how to operate their embroidery machines. Within 2.5 years, she had built a team of 5 onboarding specialists, focusing on internal training, creating content for their new products, and conducting live webinars for the respective software programs.   Through that, she found an interest in working with software and building a customer portal.   “The opportunity to work at BrightGauge came along at a perfect time in my life,” says Julia. “I’m looking forward to challenging myself in a new industry, learning a lot, and growing personally and professionally.”   Out of office     Like most in South Florida, when Julia is not at work, she loves being outside. You can find her biking to the beach, taking walks along the bay, or reading in the park. Julia has a big love for music, especially electronic, underground house, and concerts with live instruments. Her favorite time of year in Miami? Art Basel week, when she gets to indulge in installation art, modern art, photography, and sculpture!            

How MSPs Can Adopt a Data-Driven Strategy for Growth

If you scan the room you’re in, it’s likely that you’ve got at least 2-3 devices, if not more, gathering data. With the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smartphones, nearly every industry and every business or organization you interact with is collecting data for analysis with two primary goals, to create better products and services or to sell you more. In other words, the data is allowing businesses to develop strategies for growth.  As important as that external data is, most businesses and organizations are also collecting internal data regarding service level and quality, financial performance, human resources, and more. In short, these days, we’re dealing with a lot of data. How you use that data may just make the difference between your successes and failures. That data informs where you invest time, money, and resources. Learning to create growth strategies based on that data is essential for your MSP. With the right data-driven strategy in place, you can achieve sustainable business growth. This is where big data plays a vital role.  Quick Links What is big data? What are the 4 V's of big data? Why a data-driven strategy is important to your MSP How data-driven strategies create sustainable growth How your MSP can adopt a data-driven strategy for growth What is big data? Big data can mean a variety of things depending on one’s industry. Largely, the concept boils down to the sheer amount of data we have access to and how we handle it. As noted above, your organization is likely collecting a lot of data from clients, customers, employees, and vendors. Anyone interacting with your business in person or online is generating data which, when handled properly, can help inform strategic decisions. For many organizations, it takes a team just to parse the data into usable and actionable information. With data coming from so many sources and so many users, the volume alone is overwhelming. When one factors in the speed of the data as well as the need to determine its usefulness, it becomes easy to see why big data is big business. What are the 4 V's of big data? We hinted at it above, but let’s be a bit more clear. Big data gets broken down into what’s referred to as the 4 V’s of big data. They are: Volume- This, of course, refers to the amount of data coming in. Variety- This refers to the variety of sources the data comes from. While the IoT is certainly contributing to the influx of data, it’s also coming from traditional sources. How one defines traditional sources likely depends on their industry, but it might include in person interviews, online surveys and questionnaires, or even web forms. Whether it's a POS or handheld device, a call logged by our internal team, or a ticket opened via an application or online form, data is coming in through a wide variety of sources. Velocity- As suspected, this refers to the speed of data transmission. With the arrival of edge computing (which really enabled the IoT), data is moving back and forth faster than ever. Today’s networks are similarly moving much faster and the arrival of 5G promises to speed that up even more. It's a veritable avalanche of data. Veracity- The final V relates to the quality of the data. Can recipients (you) trust the source? How much value can you place in the data, especially when it comes in at such volume? How does one determine which data to keep and which to discard? Why a data-driven strategy is important to your MSP   So why does all of this matter to your MSP? There are a few reasons it’s important and while some of them may depend on the direction your MSP is taking or will take in the future, it’s also important to understand the market and where the big data market is heading. Through understanding the industry as well as the data available to you through your clients and internal teams, you can direct your growth in a way that is sustainable and utilizes a data-driven strategy. Managed Analytics  One of the biggest reasons big data might matter for your MSP is that data analytics is among the latest services to be offered by MSPs. With an understanding of the 4 V’s and the business model of MSPs that functions on partnering with businesses that don’t have the staff or the skills to handle IT functions, it’s easy to see why this service gap is one MSPs are gladly stepping into. As with many other MSP services, managed analytics allows an organization to save time and money while still getting the most out of the data they need to make data-driven strategic decisions.  Impact on Existing Provided Services There’s no doubt that the amount of data coming in is vital to businesses and that’s the next reason MSPs should be concentrating on the impact of big data. The 4 V’s reveal a need for strong and reliable infrastructure to support the barrage of data. Your MSP’s clients are counting on you to ensure their networks can handle the volume, are reliable enough to transmit the data at the speeds their customers demand, can respond quickly to a variety of requests from different sources, and can ensure the integrity of the data itself.  When big decisions are being made and strategies being formulated based on available data, for both you and your clients, you want to make sure the service you're providing ensures the data has value. Impact on MSP Performance Not only are your clients handling a lot of data coming at them at once, but so are you. From client metrics to network monitoring data, it’s likely you’re experiencing data overload as well. Further, how you choose to manage and analyze that data is vital to your own service quality and growth. If you’re not monitoring performance data of your networks, your clients, and your own employees, it will be difficult to identify service shortcomings as well as potential areas for expansion. How data-driven strategies create sustainable growth   To be competitive in any business, you have to be able to see the land in front of you as well as the horizon line and beyond; that takes data. You have to have a strategy. MSPs in the startup phase are usually worried about MRR (monthly recurring revenue) whereas MSPs in the next stage are worried about filling out both sales and support teams. Businesses reaching operational maturity have other growth targets in mind like expansion of teams and services to accommodate and acquire clients. Regardless of the growth stage or your organization, data is essential to understanding where you are and what strategies will help you grow. Early stage MSPs are more likely to be focused on providing high quality services for existing clients, creating a foundation to build on. For this reason, remote monitoring and management will be the bulk of their work and the data they’ll be focused on is related to machine memory, disk space, uptime/downtime, device monitoring and security, hardware health, and network speed and reliability. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) data will allow your organization to be proactive and deliver the services your clients need providing a strong base upon which to build. The more you can monitor here, the more you can manage. The more you can manage, the more you can grow.  Mid-stage MSPs have solid footing when it comes to RMM and are now looking at their core competencies and determining areas for growth, likely in the services they can provide. Data should be driving those strategies. Further, mid-stage MSPs are likely looking to optimize their services and cut costs so investments can be made elsewhere. While it may seem counterintuitive, some MSPs may begin to outsource or automate roles and tasks that are repeatable or aren’t their core competencies so they can save that time and money for other projects. As one of the primary goals of this stage is analyzing net margin, being able to determine where an MSP can enhance or grow services without increasing headcount is vital. And, as you guessed, that takes data. MSPs that have reached operational maturity are in no position to rest on that success. This is where MSPs must shine in the customer service department and where tools like reporting and quarterly business reviews become essential (reporting is, naturally, built on data). At this point, your MSPs services should be seamless and your role virtually invisible within your client’s organization. Further, the data you are collecting regarding your client’s network environment is where you can advise them on different or new services you offer and where you can make recommendations. The advances they make, the success they have, and any services gaps you see is where you can continue to grow. Analyzing your service metrics can help you create strategies for growth. In each stage of the growth cycle, your MSP must consistently be gathering data about your performance and your client’s performance. The data gathered informs your strategy and helps you address issues proactively, preparing you for the next stage of growth. Even if your business is built on RMM, your business is still all about the data because the data drives strategy. How your MSP can adopt a data-driven strategy for growth Data driven workplaces are more focused on goals and outcomes and are more effective at keeping teams aligned. If your current goals include strategic and scalable growth for your MSP, then tapping into the big data trend is essential. When you analyze the data available to you, you’re in a better position to hit the KPIs that help you advance to the next stage of growth. But how exactly does one adopt a data-driven strategy for your MSP? While the data that is of value to you will depend on your growth stage and the services you offer, there are really 5 key steps to developing a data-driven strategy.    1. Know your goal/mission   It’s next to impossible to build a data-driven strategy if you don’t know what data you should be looking at. More specifically, understanding the challenges your business addresses for clients and understanding what your organization’s growth goals are is fundamental in determining the next step. So the first step is hashing out what your immediate goals might be so you can develop a plan to get there. 2. Identify the data and sources you need Once you know what your goals are, you’ll want to determine what metrics you’ll need to measure to keep those on track. This is where a good business intelligence tool comes in handy. You’ll want something that will help keep you focused on the goal, but also measure the KPIs and metrics that determine your progress towards that goal. In some cases, the data you need may be coming from multiple sources and the automation of a data dashboard, which can pull from multiple sources, saves you time and allows you to quickly determine your current status.    3. Share your data It’s great if you’re collecting a lot of data on your performance internally (such as tickets opened to tickets closed ratios, average time to ticket resolution, etc.), but that data really only works for you if it’s shared with the folks on the front lines. If your service team isn’t also keeping track of the data and their metrics, it’s easy for them to lose sight of the goals as well as the weaknesses and successes. Sharing the data with them is fundamental to driving your team to success. However, you also want to be sharing the data with your customers and clients. One of the key foundations of MSP success is transparency and reporting. As noted above, the goal of many MSPs is to have their service be invisible, meaning it runs smoothly enough that the customer or client almost forgets the service is there (few tickets opened, no downtime, problems addressed proactively) and if you’re successful with that, you want to make sure you’re touting that to your clients. You’ll need to remind them what it is you do and how well you do it.    4. Analyze the data Data-driven strategies are not made on current data alone. In fact, the more data you’ve collected, the more history you have, the more valuable your data becomes and the stronger your strategies. More specifically, historical data allows you to identify patterns as well as make predictions and comparisons. For example, let’s say you have two clients who are in the same industry vertical, one new, one old. If you have been successful in helping the older client grow, you can look at the historical data, compare it to the new client and make decisions or offer advice based on that data. You not only become more useful to your client, but you also become more successful in delivering the service they want and need. Analysis is also useful internally. Historical data allows you to identify circumstances under which you struggled or were successful. When you see those situations on the horizon, utilizing the data you have at hand, you can proactively strategize to ensure your success. Data helps you learn from the past and prepare for the future. 5. Make strategic decisions The final step in the process is making your decisions based on the information you have in front of you (also much easier if it’s in digestible visual form). Often in business we can think an area is one of strong performance simply because we’re not getting feedback on it, but the data doesn’t lie. Not only is it remarkably helpful in RMM, but let’s say you get a lot of great feedback on your ticket resolution time. You might think this is a strong suit of your organization. However, you might look at the historical data and see an uptick in tickets open which may indicate a problem. Consider the service implications and customer satisfaction increases if you could proactively address the ticket issues before your clients needed to open a ticket in the first place. In short, the data drives the strategy, which better prepares your MSP to be responsive and proactive when it comes to your client needs. What we’re experiencing and what we’re hearing from our teams, our clients, and our supervisors is all valuable information, but data can help us grow bigger and faster by really helping us identify opportunities and isolate problems.   Regardless of where your MSP is in its growth cycle, whether you gather and leverage the data available to you will impact your success. Further, it can also impact the speed of your growth and how quickly your team hits targets. When you’ve got a lot of data coming at you, from a lot of sources, learning how to utilize it can be overwhelming. That’s where BrightGauge comes in. We help you gather all of the important data in one place, our data dashboards help you quickly visualize what it is you need to know, and we facilitate your sharing it with your team and clients through automated reporting. We’re no strangers to the MSP market. It’s how we got our start. If you’re ready to talk to our team about how we can help your team become the data driven machine you want and need for growth, get in touch with us today!

Top 5 Customer Success Metrics You Need to Track to Grow Your Business

We’re all familiar with the old question “If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” What this question really asks is if there’s an action, but no one monitoring it and no way to measure it (via sound), how do we know it happened? While on a philosophical front, this question asks us to look deeply at what it means to observe, but it’s also asking about metrics or measurements. How we gauge what is happening across any landscape, whether forest or business, means we have to be looking at metrics and measurements. This is especially true in the customer success sphere. Because the concept of customer success vs. customer service/support is to be proactive, it means those responsible for ensuring the success of customer initiatives must be actively monitoring customer success metrics; they must be in the forest to hear the tree fall.   Quick Links What is customer success? Why is customer success important? What customer success metrics should you be tracking? Reporting/tracking customer success KPIs How BrightGauge dashboards can help you monitor customer success   What is customer success? Customer success is a way of reframing the traditional service aspect of customer relationship management. As discussed in our blog on customer success teams, the language suggests a shift in the way businesses, particularly those that provide services, view their goals in relation to their customers' goals. In other words, rather than looking at what we can do for our clients and customers, we look at what we can do with them. By partnering our success with theirs, we ensure not only that both of our goals are achieved, but are done so through the strength and reliability of not just our service but also our relationship. Customer success means understanding that when your clients are successful, you will be too. Why is customer success important? The key to business success lies with your customers. If they’re successful, and your services help deliver those wins, they’ll stick with you. And, if you’re looking to grow your business and looking at where the revenue is (and how customer retention is less costly than acquisition) it’s in both up-selling and cross-selling to your existing customers. Additionally, happy customers are more likely to spread positive word of mouth which wins you even more business without investing marketing money. Simply put, success for your customers is success for you. That’s just the bottom line. It’s important to look beyond that as well. While all of the factors impact that bottom line, in many ways business success is connected to relationship management. There are few better ways to create lasting relationships than by investing in someone else’s success. It fosters trust and creates value for your customers. In turn, they’re more likely to be open to more services or products and more likely to recommend your business. While it all circles back around to increasing revenue and growth for your business, one cannot undervalue the connection this relationship strategy creates between you and your customers. What customer success metrics should you be tracking? If customer success is so closely tied to your own success or growth, then tracking customer success metrics is vital. As with any business data, these metrics can reveal a lot about the health of your organization and about your customer success initiatives. 1. Customer churn The first metric you’ll want to pay attention to is churn or the rate at which customers leave. While some attrition is normal, you’ll want to, first, establish whether you want to gauge this rate monthly or yearly. Then, you can determine your churn rate by dividing total customers by those who have left. Keeping an eye on this number is vital as customers who are successful, who find value in your services, don’t leave. Any uptick here, especially a significant one, merits investigation and response. 2. Expansion revenue If revenue is income, expansion revenue is the amount of that income that comes from existing customers. If you have been able to expand the goods or services they’re purchasing from you, it’s a pretty good indicator that you’re on the right track. As noted above, happy customers are amenable to up-selling and cross-selling and so this metric is a good measure of your customer’s success rate both with your services and with their goals. 3. Customer satisfaction Customer satisfaction is a metric you should be gauging through surveys as well as through qualitative measures such as conversations, reviews, and more. Numbers, like churn and revenue, are great measurements, but they don’t take the place of talking to customers to learn how they’re feeling. In fact, churn and revenue will provide the end result, but once you’ve got those numbers, it’s too late. In contrast, monitoring customer satisfaction can let you know of and respond to issues before the customer takes action, or before they leave. 4. Net Promoter Score (NPS) Especially crucial for service providers, the net promoter score reveals how likely existing customers are to suggest or recommend your service to others. NPS is fairly easy to gauge by simply asking how likely a customer is to recommend you. While asking is fairly easy, this simple score is indicative of much more. For example, businesses with higher NPS scores than competitors outgrow them by twice as much. Further, customers who report high NPS scores have an average lifetime customer value 3-8 times higher than other customers. In short, NPS is a great way to measure customer health. These customers are loyal, more likely to spend with you, and more likely to suggest your business to other potential customers. In terms of value, this can’t be beat. 5. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)   Customer lifetime value is also a good customer success metric to be focusing on. As with other metrics, one number reveals far more. CLV estimates the value of a customer, how much they will spend, during their relationship with you. To measure customer lifetime value, you’ll want to divide the average revenue per account by customer churn rate. Once you have your CLV, you can then start gauging how much you should spend on acquisition which is an important metric to understand as well. However, in terms of customer success metrics, your CLV should be growing rather than shrinking. Growth in this number indicates that customers are staying with you longer or purchasing more services/upgrading. In contrast, if the number is shrinking, it’s time to examine whether your customer churn rate is growing as well or investigate the value of your services. Growth here suggests your customers see value in your services, enough to continue to invest.  As with customer success itself, customer success metrics require proactive monitoring. This stands in contrast to customer service which is typically responsive. When the client comes to you, you respond. Customer success, on the other hand, looks at all the metrics, from the ones listed above, to those codified on an SLA (service level agreement) and more and insists on action before the customer voices concerns. Reporting and tracking customer success metrics Now that we’ve identified the top customer success metrics you should be monitoring, it’s essential to know what you should be monitoring for. One of the advantages to using business intelligence tools is the ability to see these metrics with a visual representation, such as a gauge, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The key piece, however, is that you are both tracking and reporting these metrics to the folks who need to know. For your customers, that means you’ll need to be providing quarterly business reviews to provide information on SLA metrics such as response times and ticket times. For your team, you still need to be reporting and ensuring that the key customer success metrics are falling within your desired range. Early on, that may be based on industry standards, but as you perfect your strategies, you may want to include those metrics in longer term organizational goals. These numbers may differ based on your industry or the historical performance of your specific company, but most industry guidelines say you should consider: - A customer churn rate of no more than 5%. - Expansion revenue should be 20-30% (minimum) of your business revenue - A customer satisfaction score of 50 is average, but it really depends on your industry and, as always, aim higher. - A net promoter score again depends on industry, but 60 is average across multiple verticals. - Customer lifetime value will have to be calculated differently based on multiple business variables, but there’s a great overview here that will allow you to assess all of the factors that go into that number. Understanding the baseline and industry standards for these scores is a good place to start your tracking, but understanding how your business is performing is even more essential. That’s why using dashboards is a great way to stay on top of metrics. How BrightGauge dashboards can help you monitor customer success One of the biggest benefits of  business intelligence tools is their ability to put all the data and information you need at your fingertips. In fact, using dashboards and gauges enables you to see, on one screen, in one location, without complex coding or manually consolidating data, all the metrics you’re trying to track for different teams, initiatives, or even individual employees. BrightGauge’s tools allow you to customize your dashboards and automate reports. That means you can share your dashboard with your customer success team and regularly keep your customers informed about the services you’re providing. Remember, customer success is about providing proactive solutions and being responsive rather than reactive. If you’re ready to explore how BrightGauge’s tools can help your team embrace customer success as a strategy, get in touch with our team today!

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MSPs and the 4 V’s of Big Data

With big data comes big data responsibility. Simply collecting large amounts of data isn’t helpful in and of itself. To use data to its full potential, it is vital that companies have strategies in place for collecting, storing, managing, and utilizing that data. Unfortunately, many MSPs often place too much focus on collecting data and too little on getting the most out of it.   The earliest attempt to define the essential attributes for big data management came from Gartner in the late 1990s. Their system, known as the “3V’s Framework” provided an outline for understanding and managing data assets. As time has gone on, other companies have expanded upon their framework. Today the most commonly referenced big data management attributes feature a fourth V:   Volume Velocity Variety Veracity   Every organization collects data from a range of different sources. Those sources often include transactions, content, and internal data among others. The 4 V’s provide a framework for leveraging and maintaining that data to produce superior value. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the 4 V’s and examine how MSPs can analyze them to achieve superior results.   MSPs and Data Volume When discussing big data, analysts use the term volume to describe the amount of data involved in the process when considering all the different possible data sources. Pound for pound, there are few types of companies that collect more data than MSPs. Not only do they collect a lot of internal operations data, but they are often responsible for their client's data as well.  According to IBM, 90% of today’s data has been created in the last 2 years. It’s easy to see why data volume can quickly become a serious concern. That concern isn't just for storing large amounts of data, but for accessing, managing, and effectively using that data. The volume of data a business produces on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis can be overwhelming. Not only does your team need to manage traditional data points, like tickets opened, employee time, and sales deals closed, you may also need to keep track of and monitor any data created by social media networks. Additionally, considering any historical data you may have on hand, curating information from employee reports, customer logs, and other sources gives your team a long term look at trends and patterns. Having more data sources to analyze allows you to explore and create a bigger picture but challenges your team to create and manage both a storage system for this information and a user-friendly system for analyzing and explaining these data points.     MSPs and Data Velocity The term velocity is used to describe the rate at which data is processed and the pace at which the data flows from the customer or consumer to the management team. With the widespread use of computers and the introduction of mobile technology like tablets and smartphones, the flow of data can be overwhelming. In addition to traditional means of interaction, like phone calls, surveys, and emails, customers and clients are leveraging the power of social media in order to be heard, creating an almost continuous stream of data. MSPs in particular often deal with rapid influxes of data, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a system that allows you to store, categorize, and filter incoming data on a real-time basis. Being able to filter out some of the “noise” and focus on the information that helps you streamline your decision making process is critical in order to identify potential problems, and implement solutions and alternatives well in advance.     MSPs and Data Variety In the context of big data, variety is used to describe both the different types of data as well as the different sources it comes from. Management analysts and experts often tout that businesses “can’t manage what they can’t measure”, meaning that you can only be accountable for the data and processes that are available to you at any given time.  With the influx of new data provided by social media and mobile technology as well as traditional data generated by your clients and customers, the sheer variety of your data can cloud your management picture. There are two varieties of data that businesses collect:   Structured data: refers to data types that have a meta model for storing and filtering results. Structured data includes things like bank statements, transaction logs, and usage logs.   Unstructured data: refers to data that does not have a consistent meta model and could include examples such as social media updates, web pages, and web logs. Unstructured data is the largest driver of rapid growth in data collection.   The best way to address data variety is to streamline your information into one singular view so that your managers have a clearer picture of what’s happening with any client or customer.     MSPs and Data Veracity Data veracity refers to the trustworthiness of the data collected. Companies with high-volume data operations are more likely to suffer from low-quality data. In turn, business decisions made based on bad data are unlikely to result in the desired outcome. On a big-picture scale, it is estimated that poor data quality costs the US economy up to $3.1 trillion every year. Translated to the MSP industry, high data volume and variety are commonplace, and because of that occasional data abnormalities are unavoidable. The most important thing to remember about veracity at your MSP is to take the time to clean up incoming data and filter out that of poor quality. Maintaining clean, reliable data is critical for the health of your business since your data is the foundation of your decision-making process.   How to master the 4 V’s of Big Data There is a lot to consider when attempting to improve your data operations. The 4 V’s - volume, velocity, variety, and veracity, encompass the most critical demands of effective, data-driven decision making. Learn more about how to successfully manage big data using BrightGauge in our free white paper:    

Dashboard of the Month: Service Operations Management

If you watched our June User Showcase webinar, Increasing Productivity Through Transparency Across Your Team, then you are familiar with Mark Wright, VP of Automation, at I.T.Works!   During the webinar, Mark showed how he and his team use BrightGauge to share and track data across multiple teams with the goal of boosting operational efficiency.    Inspired by that content, we're sharing this month's dashboard: Service Operations Management.    Mark's Service Operations Manager uses this dashboard which provides a high-level overview of their service team's productivity and their clients' happiness rating for the last 30 days.    Service Operations Management Dashboard - view here   The key performance indicators (KPIs) monitored using this dashboard include: Managed endpoints supported Tickets per endpoints Hours per endpoint Ticket escalation ratio SLA adherence   With this dashboard, a Service Operations Manager has a quick way to spot problems, trends, and any automation needs and is able to see the top ticket closers for the month.   If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for yourself, check out the links below: Service Operations Management Dashboard (public view link) Service Operations Management Dashboard Buildout Key   Thank you, Mark, for sharing your valuable insights!   Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to success@brightgauge.com with any questions!

8 Dashboard Report Best Practices to Successfully Leverage Data

Most of us would love to find more time in our workdays, but short of adding on more time at the end of the day, it’s pretty difficult to do so. When it comes to making sure we’re monitoring the important metrics and KPIs that leadership and clients care about, managing our teams to make sure we hit those marks, and reporting to everyone who needs the data, a good chunk of our workday is likely already gone. When you factor in emails, meetings, and casual conversations around the office, it’s easy to understand why many of us are clocking out later and later. While we’ve all got to work with the 24 hours we have, there are ways to free up time to focus on revenue generating tasks. By automating parts of your business that already run like a well-oiled machine, you can buy some of your own time back and move forward with growth opportunities. This can help your business develop a valuable competitive advantage. And, if you’re looking for a solution that helps you with all those tasks and can help you realize those goals, then let’s talk dashboards. Quick Links What are dashboard reports? What is the purpose of dashboard reporting? Choosing the right KPIs for your dashboard 8 best practices for your dashboard management Dashboard reporting with BrightGauge   What are dashboard reports? In short, dashboards provide data visualization. They present information regarding metrics or KPIs as gauges, graphs, or charts, so that those who need the information can take one quick glance at a single screen rather than creating spreadsheets based on data gathered from multiple sources. Because visual data is usually more quickly and easily interpreted, dashboards are an essential tool to monitoring and tracking data for your business. Dashboard reporting enables you to gather essential data from those dashboards and forward reports on to the teams or individuals who need to be kept up-to-date. Further, with some tools, you can even automate those reports which become a valuable asset in customer/client communication and transparency, thereby strengthening those relationships.  What is the purpose of dashboard reporting? Dashboard reporting allows you to track and take action on metrics and data that are imperative to your company’s bottom line and your customer’s success.    We’ve heard from MSPs who spend too much time each week compiling their data into meaningful reports —sometimes, upwards of 8-10 hours per week. That’s one entire workday of logging into multiple accounts, toggling between windows, pulling data into an Excel spreadsheet, and analyzing that data to find any compelling trends or indicators that drive your decisions. Sound familiar? We thought it might. The good news? There’s a different way to do things.   With dashboard reporting, the process of gathering data is automated, making it an easy and efficient way to buy back a big chunk of time.    Perhaps an even stronger argument for dashboard reporting is the effect it can have on internal and external relationships.    As briefly mentioned above, long-term, trustworthy relationships that result in employee loyalty and repeat business stem from being honest, unbiased, and transparent. Transparency means being open about the reality of your situation, whether it’s good or bad. When you act as an open book and report on actual data, you establish both credibility and reliability, especially when those reports are delivered consistently and on a regular schedule.   A dashboard report is also a professional and easily digestible way to show a clear snapshot of your business.    Let’s say your MSP is responsible for your client’s 25 endpoints. Every week, you may share with your client a dashboard report that shows the patch status of each endpoint, which machines are set to expire soon, and how many threats you mitigated in the previous week. This is an excellent way to prove your value as a partner while keeping your client looped in on their investments. Further, it’s also a great way to allow your team to track the same metrics and goals. Then, when it comes time for employee and team evaluations, everyone’s on the same page regarding where improvements are possible.   Other dashboard reporting examples are: A sales dashboard showing your team’s active and won opportunities A support dashboard reporting on ticket statistics such as open tickets and time to resolution A customer satisfaction dashboard telling your clients how others are rating you A finance dashboard providing a quick look at the health and profitability of your company And so on.    Regardless of the metrics chosen for a dashboard report, its purpose will always lie in allowing you to focus on priorities while strengthening the basis of your client and team relationships. This means dashboard reporting can add value to any business—no matter your location, size, or industry.  What makes a good KPI dashboard? Understanding why to use dashboard reporting is only the first step. Next, determining which KPIs are the right ones to make your dashboard a strong one. This will vary by department and by the overall goals of your company or your client, but there are some consistencies across the board.    For effective dashboard reporting, quality reigns over quantity. With a dashboard, you have one screen to paint your picture. Anyone looking at that screen should be able to quickly and easily digest the vital information. Overloading your dashboard with unnecessary gauges or graphs muddies the message and can lead to confusion about what’s really important.    You really want to prioritize the right KPIs for your dashboard report. More specifically, choose the ones that tell your data story in the most compelling way. What are the most meaningful KPIs to your bottom line? What would the person receiving the report want to see?    Business right now is data obsessed and, no doubt, data is key to so many business decisions and strategies. However, it’s easy to get attached to data and feel like it’s all important, especially when you’re trying to prove your value to your clients, but less is more! Focusing in on just a handful of essential KPIs will make your dashboard reporting more impactful.   KPIs should align with overall company goals and serve as a north star. Not only does reporting on those KPIs help guide a company towards success, but it gets everyone in the organization on the same page. Different teams have their own goals to work towards, but everyone’s ultimate mission is to see the organization succeed, and KPIs are a clear way to unify everybody. Similarly, these reports can work to do the same thing for your clients. Simplifying their jobs and streamlining their ability to communicate to their leadership how your service is helping to achieve their goals can be incredibly valuable.   In general, all businesses are looking to evaluate performance in the areas of finance, customers, sales, marketing, operations, and within their own internal teams. Knowing this, your dashboard reports will likely have a healthy mix of KPIs from those business segments.    Here are some KPI examples to include in dashboards:   Finance Debt-to-Asset Ratio Return on Investment (ROI) Net Profit Margin   Customers Customer Satisfaction Net Promoter Score   Sales Monthly Recurring Revenue Age of Opportunity Quote to Close   Marketing Cost Per Lead Market Growth Rate Conversion Rate   Operations Effective Hourly Rate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) Time to Resolution   Internal Teams Revenue Per Employee Employee Churn Rate Employee Satisfaction 8 best practices for dashboard management Regardless of the type of dashboard reports you’re producing, here are 8 best practices to ensure you’re staying organized, productive, and efficient:   Make sure your data is relevant. Who is receiving your dashboard report or viewing your dashboard? Display only those metrics that make the most sense for those recipients. And, if you categorize your dashboards by recipient, team or topic, don’t include any metrics that may seem out of place or irrelevant.  Use strategic metrics. Be strategic in what you choose (quality over quantity) and make sure the metrics you’re tracking align with your strategy for success. Look for and use compelling data that influences business decisions in a positive way. For clients of your MSP, you’ll likely want to report on service level agreement (SLA) KPIs. For your team, you’ll likely want to report on team or organizational goals. Set yourself and your customers up for success.  Choose measurable metrics. Ever heard of SMART goals? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By creating SMART goals, you can effectively measure your performance against benchmarks you’ve set so that you objectively know whether you’re on track. While it’s worth considering both qualitative and quantitative metrics,  it’s more important to remember that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  Keep your dashboards clean. Do yourself a favor and stay organized. Just like cluttered workspaces can be detrimental to your productivity, so can a cluttered dashboard. If looking at your dashboards causes you any sort of anxiety, your recipients are probably feeling the same. Choose the fewest metrics needed to completely tell your story and you should be in a good place.   Track data you can take action on. Data is awesome and powerful, but it can only take you so far. What you choose to do with that data is what really matters. Focus on data that can influence your processes, hiring decisions, SLAs, annual goals, and so on. If you have a piece of data as an FYI, but can’t really act upon it, ask yourself if it’s worth tracking. The goal of businesses isn’t to just collect data, but to make data driven decisions. Take the ‘at-a-glance’ test. Once you’ve got your dashboard reporting template in place, take a quick glance and see what you’re able to glean from it in those couple minutes. Are you visually representing your data in a way that’s easy to digest? Are you using colors, bar graphs, gauges, and pie charts that get the message across pretty quickly and clearly? Avoid lots of text and numbers and use graphics when possible. Group your metrics into a nice grid. People like symmetry and organization and tend to gravitate towards clean lines that bring a sense of calm. Organize your dashboards as such. Different dashboard reporting tools allow you to modify and resize your buckets to your liking so that your dashboard is designed to your taste. Group relevant metrics together (like tickets closed beside tickets opened) so that your dashboard report is easy to read.  Use dashboard filters. BrightGauge is a dashboard reporting tool that allows you to add dashboard filters to your reports. This can save you a ton of time. For example, a service desk manager who wants to send a report to each individual technician, specific to their projects, can create one dashboard reporting template and then create a dashboard filter that only returns data specific to that individual (so, Rick’s dashboard, Alex’s dashboard, Sam’s dashboard, etc.). In BrightGauge, you’d simply toggle on the dashboard filter for the individual you’re looking for and that’s it.  Dashboard Reporting with BrightGauge There are different dashboard reporting tools out there that can help you create meaningful reports. Whichever you use, remember to employ these dashboard reporting best practices so you can make the most out of the data you’re tracking. While these tools can’t put hours on the clock, they can put hours back in your day.   Whether you’re looking at making remote work a regular option, have team members in multiple locations, or offer your MSP services to a wide variety of customers, dashboard reports can help your entire organization stay on top of teams and client-partner relationships.    To learn more about how BrightGauge can help you make faster, stronger, more informed decisions based on data, get in touch with us today. 

Important Metrics for Remote Work Management

We are starting to get a sense of what a post-pandemic world looks like. Per the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals can go maskless, so we are seeing many states returning to the status quo with people attending events and going to stores and public spaces. However, many people are not rushing back to the office. Some reports discuss  people quitting jobs as part of a perspective shift. Still others are returning to the job market. Stiff competition has come with re-opening. After a year of working at home, many employees who prefer that arrangement are looking to make it permanent. With talent retention in mind, a lot of employers are offering up the option to continue working remotely. They're tapping into the trend themselves by opening up their own job searches to workers outside their region. What that means is that now, more than ever, remote work management is essential. It’s about keeping remote workers connected, engaged, and productive.  Quick Links The shift to remote work Remote work in the future Challenges of remote teams Remote team tools Metrics to manage remote teams   The shift to remote work With its origins (as telecommuting) in the 1970s, remote work has been around for a long time. Whether it was call center workers (JCPenney) who could work from home, or IBM workers, working from home has certainly changed over the years, growth exploding first with the internet and then wifi and cloud computing. For some, remote work has long been a dream; just search the hashtag vanlife on social media to see how the trend is making digital nomads relish freedom from a traditional office. In contrast though, for some, the shift to working remotely has been difficult. The arrival of Covid-19 on the scene pushed many into remote work situations that, ordinarily, they’d have never chosen. However, most by this point have adapted and some grown to enjoy the perks. In fact, many companies that may not have offered the opportunity prior to the pandemic are now planning to do so. Because they’re now realizing the benefits of remote work, they’re looking more seriously at making the shift permanent.   Remote work in the future During Covid-19, 72% of workers were working remotely with 81% believing employers would continue to honor that arrangement. Further, research from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) suggests that 83% of executives have found working remotely to be a success. Given that both employers and employees are interested in continuing either fully remote or hybrid work setups, it’s also important to note that both groups are reaping the benefits: Improved productivity  Cost savings on office space, commuting, and more Better work life balance Lower absenteeism Less stress Better focus More time working And more!   While many expected remote work to be a temporary inconvenience, quite the opposite happened. In fact, many found success and happiness with the new work structure. That doesn’t mean it’s without challenges. Challenges of remote teams Despite there being a lot of benefits, remote work situations are far from problem free. In fact, for as well documented as the benefits are, the challenges are equally clear to many teams. Some of the challenges reflect the nature of solitary work such as loneliness and feeling disconnected from team members. Still others reflect that struggling to unplug is an issue. Finally, technical issues related to connectivity, networking, and security have been an obstacle. Team leaders and managers, however, report completely different challenges. For employers, the challenges include:   Difficulty with communication and collaboration Monitoring productivity Employee engagement and motivation Time/geographical constraints Team/relationship building   Thankfully, there are a variety of  tools available to tackle these issues and help your employees hit your goals. Remote team tools It should come as no surprise that the most successful remote teams have been the ones able to identify and adopt the most effective tools available to address their challenges. Though applications to facilitate communication and collaboration existed, older favorites had to make some enhancements when newcomers successfully entered the market. 1. Communication One of the biggest challenges to remote work is keeping everyone connected. Not only does that include formal meetings to discuss projects, goals, clients, or performance, but even the informal communication has value. For that reason, several communication applications immediately came to the forefront: Slack Zoom Microsoft Teams Google Hangouts GoTo Meeting   2. Collaboration and Project Management Even if your teams can communicate, being able to stay on track, follow workflows, manage projects, and share files requires more than just a communication app. This software helps you plan, manage, track, and collaborate among multiple team members who may be in multiple locations or even time zones.   Trello Basecamp Confluence ClickUp Jira 3. Cloud Storage Sending files can be done in nearly every communication tool, but you likely need to be able to store files in a shared space where everyone who needs access can have it. Further, maintaining security and access controls are also vital. Google Drive Dropbox iDrive Microsoft OneDrive All of the above tools can help facilitate remote team communication and collaboration. If used to create space and opportunities for your remote employees, they can also facilitate relationship building and build employee engagement as well. While these tools do an excellent job of keeping everyone connected and workflows moving, data dashboard tools, like BrightGauge’s, can help you both monitor and report on progress as well as help motivate your team. 🗒️Note: If you're interested in learning more about how to successfully manage remote teams, download our ebook here! Metrics to manage remote teams While project management tools may allow you to monitor workflows and project completion, they fall short in monitoring the metrics or KPIs that provide real information about your success. Data dashboards help you monitor your progress on goals and the key metrics that reveal team performance, allowing you to build on strengths and address weaknesses. When your team is remote, this can be a vital element to your arsenal of tools. However, it’s important to be looking at the right metrics. While you want your team to feel good, you also want to be surpassing goals. A data dashboard is a great tool to keep all the important information in one location, but what remote metrics should you be monitoring?  Across the board, you’ll be wanting to monitor some of the same KPIs, but the metrics you’ll use depend on the specific team. More specifically, the KPIs you’re likely most interested in are productivity, performance, and perhaps employee utilization. Still, the metrics you’ll need to gauge those KPIs are different for individual teams. Let’s take a look at a few. Client Services/Support 1. Call volume- You’ll want to know exactly how many calls are coming in to your support/services team. 2. Calls answered- Of those calls, how many are answered and connect your customers with a member of your team. 3. Tickets opened- How many support tickets were opened by your clients/customers. 4. Tickets closed- Of the open tickets, how many are being resolved? 5. Ticket resolution time- How long does it take your team to resolve tickets? 6. Customer service satisfaction- How happy are your customers with the service they receive? Marketing 1. Website sessions- How many visitors are coming to your website? 2. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)- Of the site visits, how many meet the characteristics your team has used to define an MQL? 3. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)- Of new leads, who among them is ready to talk with a member of your sales team? Much like MQLs, you’ll determine what characteristics move a lead to this level. 4. Lead conversion rate- Of your visitors, how many are captured as leads based on the completion of a form or other interactions on your site? 5. Monthly growth-  This is really more of a KPI than a metric. Its measurement requires multiple metrics that suggest growth such as new and running campaigns, MQLs, conversions, etc. In short, it asks did we do more this month with the same resources?  Sales    1. Call volume- How many calls are coming to your sales team? 2. Sales and revenue per rep- How many sales are your reps making and how much revenue are they generating? 3. Conversion rate- How many leads are converted to sales? 4. Growth- Are you seeing increases in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) or total revenue? 5. Lifetime Customer Value- Over the course of a customer lifetime, how much value do they bring?  With data dashboards, users can customize and create dashboards to track the KPIs or metrics that matter. With reporting or dashboard sharing, your entire team stays focused on the same gauges and charts encouraging personal and team growth, ensuring you hit your goals. As many of us have learned, managing remote teams is about more than facilitating communication and collaboration; it’s also about keeping your employees connected to team goals; it’s about keeping teams aligned with business goals; it’s about encouraging employee engagement; and it’s about building purpose. Adding a business intelligence tool like a data dashboard to your remote team management is a key component to meeting all of those needs. If you’re ready to talk about how BrightGauge’s products can help keep your teams connected while working remotely, get in touch with our team today.

Why You Need to Use Qualitative and Quantitative KPIs to Grow Your Business (+ Examples)

Every industry is full of buzzwords and “acronyms,” and a few even manage a whole-hearted crossover, as they're relevant regardless of the industry. Key performance indicators (KPIs), for example, exist within multiple industries, across multiple roles and teams, and carry the same amount of weight regardless of who is monitoring them. They reveal quite a bit about the health and success of a business. However, choosing the right, and specific, KPIs to track changes depending on the role of the team or business function. Still they're critical for measuring operational and financial progress. While most business owners know the importance of proper KPI selection, many miss tracking opportunities by focusing solely on one type of KPI over others. In fact, having a solid understanding of the different KPI types helps ensure you have a complete and well-rounded picture of the entire business landscape. If we focus only on numbers (quantitative), we sometimes miss anecdotal feedback (qualitative). In short, knowing how to classify your KPIs can help you get a deeper, more thorough look into your business and its performance. Quick Links What are KPIs? Types of KPIS Qualitative and Quantitative KPIs The Why and How of Qualitative KPIs Examples of Quantitative KPIs How BrightGauge's dashboards can help you track KPIs What are KPIs? Most of us feel pretty familiar with the term “KPI,” but many people commonly associate them as solely numerical. KPIs are measurements of performance, typically of the elements critical to a business being successful (e.g., sales, finance, service). Because it’s a measurement, the natural assumption is that KPIs should always be a number; something we can count. However, evaluation, particularly of service and customer experience, often go beyond a number. To get a true complete picture of a business, past, present and future, understanding all the types of KPIs is essential. Each one provides valuable insight that can inform strategic decision making and business development. Types of KPIs 1. Quantitative Indicators Quantitative indicators are the most straight-forward KPIs. In short, they are measured solely by a number. There are two types of quantitative indicators — continuous and discrete.   Continuous quantitative indicators can take any value (including decimals) over a range and may include measurements like Miles Traveled (for a mobile service or shipping business) or Time Spent Per Call for call centers and help desks. Discrete quantitative measures are whole numbers and include things like complaints, accidents, and customer acquisition numbers.  2. Qualitative Indicators Qualitative indicators are not measured by numbers. Typically, a qualitative KPI is a characteristic of a process or business decision.   A common qualitative indicator that organizations regularly use would be an employee satisfaction survey. While some of the survey data would be considered quantitative, the measures themselves are based on the opinion of a person. Qualitative indicators tend to focus more on experiences or feelings and the intangible value we place on them.  3. Leading Indicators Leading indicators are used to predict the outcome of a change in a process and confirm long-term trends in data. In a survey of several Fortune 500 companies centered on the metrics that they use as leading indicators, 3M Corp, a mining and manufacturing company, supplied these answers: Number of new patents Number of new innovations Customer service perception In short, leading indicators look at what might happen, such as when you introduce a new product or service. Forecasting these indicators can enable predictive decision making in relation to potential industry trends or customer demands. In and of themselves, they are not standalone indicators of success.  4. Lagging Indicators Lagging indicators are used to measure results after an action has taken place in order to reflect upon the success or failure of that initiative. Often, they are used to gauge historical performance or to analyze the impact of a business decision. Lagging indicators enable businesses to determine whether their business decisions facilitated the desired outcome. Much like leading indicators, by themselves they’re not as useful as they are when used in something like a historical comparison such as month over month or quarter over quarter performance. The other issue with lagging indicators is that as they provide a historical view, it is sometimes too late to make corrections to address shortfalls. 5. Input Indicators Input indicators are used to measure resources needed for a business process or project. They are necessary for tracking resource efficiency in large projects with a lot of moving parts, but are also useful in projects of all sizes.   Some examples of input indicators include staff time, cash on hand, or equipment required.  6. Process Indicators Process indicators are used specifically to gauge the performance of a process and, hopefully, facilitate any needed changes. A very common process indicator for support teams are KPIs focused around customer support tickets.   Tickets resolved, tickets opened, and average resolution times are all process indicators that shed light on the customer support process. In this example, that data can be used to influence changes in the support process to improve efficiency and response time or resolution time. 7. Output Indicators Output indicators measure the success or failure of a process or business activity. Output indicators are one of the most used KPI types. Examples of output KPIs include revenues, profits, or new customers acquired. 8. Practical Indicators Practical indicators take into account existing company processes and explore the effects of those processes on the company. For this reason, many practical indicators may be unique to your company or work processes. 9. Directional Indicators Directional indicators evaluate specific trends within a company. Where are the metrics moving? Are they improving, declining, or maintaining?   An example of a directional metric used by many service providers would be Time on Site. This metric is used to measure the time that techs spend on-site fixing issues and troubleshooting problems. Ideally, most companies would like to lower their average Time on Site, as it is indicative of a faster, more effective service. Broad directional indicators can be used to evaluate your company’s position within your industry relative to competitors. 10. Actionable Indicators Actionable indicators measure and reflect a company’s commitment and effectiveness in implementing business changes. Those changes could be within business processes, company culture, or political action. These metrics are used to determine how well a company is able to enact their desired changes within specified time-frames. 11. Financial Indicators Financial indicators are the measurement of economic stability, growth, and business viability. Some of the most common financial KPIs include gross profit margin, net profit, aging accounts receivable, and asset ratios.   Financial indicators provide straightforward insight into the financial health of a company but must be paired with the other KPI types mentioned in this article to provide a complete picture. Qualitative and Quantitative KPIs As noted above, in several instances, KPIs should be paired with other KPIs to provide a full picture of the process, service, or outcome you’re attempting to measure. You can get a pretty powerful measurement when it comes to situations where both qualitative and quantitative KPIs are available.   More specifically, you’re looking for instances where the feedback received or data collected is both a number and provides some kind of open-ended response that enables a person to report on their experience. For example, if you’re looking at trouble tickets for a help desk or support team, the qualitative KPIs might include Time to Resolution or how long it takes your team to solve a problem. If looking only at a number, you might get an incomplete view of the situation. If the number is higher than your current goals, it might imply that the team is taking too long or is ineffective at solving customer problems. However, qualitative data, such as client comments or feedback, may report that your team is actually quite thorough, particularly when it comes to solving complex and multi-step problems. As the example demonstrates, KPIs are great at providing feedback and measurements, but in the same way as a tailor measures everything completely to get the right fit, your organization should be doing the same. That often means measuring multiple KPIs and analyzing all the data prior to making responsive decisions. The Why and How of Qualitative KPIs As discussed above, qualitative KPIs will not be measured in a number. For that reason, they’re often perceived as more complex to gather.   However, many people are more than willing to share their thoughts and experiences when asked. Further, as a management strategy to gather these measurements, simply being active in your organization, chatting informally with employees, or walking through your office, you can gather a lot of data. Further, qualitative KPIs include anecdotes or customer stories, comments, feedback, or responses to, often, open-ended questions. That’s why in any survey, whether customer or employee, you should include and provide an opportunity to share experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Again, when paired with quantitative data, you’re more likely to get a more complete picture of any business situation. Examples of Quantitative KPIs Qualitative KPIs are likely the ones you’re most familiar with and are represented by numbers. They include KPIs such as:   Sales growth Customer Lifetime Value Number of Resolved Tickets Customer Acquisition Cost Monthly Recurring Revenue Service Response Time KPIs for your finance team KPIs for your service team KPIs for your customer service team How BrightGauge’s Dashboards Help You Track KPIs At BrightGauge, we work closely with our clients to drive business growth by using KPIs and advanced metrics. Understanding the different types of KPIs can help teams to design a well-rounded evaluation system that boosts profits and improves business processes.   Our tools enable your team to create custom dashboards that help you to measure, visualize, and report on the KPIs that matter most, regardless of the type of KPI. No matter which teams or functions you need to monitor, you can see it all with our simple tools that do not require any complex coding. BrightGauge provides the ability to save you time and effort by pulling together the data you need in one place. If you’re ready to talk about how our dashboards can keep you on top of your KPIs, and your business, get in touch with our team today! Check out 70 Metrics for MSPs!    

Top 5 Service Level KPIs Your MSP Needs to Track to Retain Clients

“I won’t complain. I just won’t come back.” The line was made famous in a Brown & Williamson tobacco ad and is often quoted by thought leaders, experts, customer service, and sales folks alike. Even today, it holds mostly true. Most clients and customers are not likely to be incredibly vocal about being dissatisfied with service, instead, at the end of a contract, they’ll just leave. It’s imperative, then, that businesses, especially managed service providers (MSPs), manage and monitor client expectations and service level agreements (SLA) KPIs to track and retain clients. Quick Links What is an SLA? What are the 3 types of SLA? What is service level management? How to set and measure SLAs Top 5 KPIs your MSP should track for service level management Using KPIs to improve service level management Providing an SLA report Make SLA tracking and reporting easy with dashboards What is an SLA? Service level agreements, or SLAs, are the cornerstone of MSP businesses—whether delivering services to individuals or to other companies. SLAs document the types and level of service provided to the customer, outline what responsibilities fall upon the provider and which upon the user, and include the details regarding service availability. In short, they are the service manifest. What are the 3 types of SLA? We often talk about SLAs as if they’re one singular thing with many variables and, in part, that’s true. The contents of the SLA will depend largely on the services you offer and what your client needs. However, there are 3 types of SLAs that determine the focus of the document itself. Customer-based SLA As the name implies, this SLA is based largely on what an individual customer will need, even if it’s multiple services. This streamlines the contract into one document and allows your service provider to really tailor the agreement to a particular customer. Customer-based SLAs are best for organizations that offer multiple services that may not fall under the same umbrella. Service-based SLAs Service-based SLAs create a uniform SLA used across a customer base for a particular service that your business offers. It’s easy and convenient for the service provider, particularly when the service and service level are uniform, meaning every client gets the same service. Multi-level SLA A multi-level SLA is typically used for a provider who has multiple services that will be utilized at different service levels across a single organization or business. In other words, a large business may contract with one service provider for different needs in different departments. Rather than creating a contract for each service or each department, a multi-level service SLA would be utilized. What is service level management? A core part of managing SLAs is the tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor compliance with SLAs and identify opportunities for improvement or even expansion. This task is often referred to as service level management. Service level management is the practice of monitoring and controlling key performance indicators related to the organization’s SLAs. This is usually done with an eye towards improving quality of service and customer satisfaction. Being able to consistently meet service level agreements and deliver results is a must for building a strong reputation and keeping clients. By keeping track of key performance indicators for service level management, MSPs can monitor their success at meeting their SLA targets and investigate any shortcomings. How to set and measure SLAs SLAs can be tricky as they’re often pretty black and white meaning either your MSP met the service level or it did not. Measuring their success can be further complicated by the need to gather a lot of data, sometimes from multiple sources, and analyze a variety of KPIs to determine whether or not a particular service was delivered in the way it’s outlined in the agreement. To set SLAs you can measure, you’ll want to establish what services your MSP is offering and, if you’ve got an SLA you’re currently using, work from the existing document. Then, ask “What are the baselines for those services?” For example, if you’re providing technical support to a business with multi-channel offerings, what would an appropriate response time be for a trouble ticket? According to over 1,000 different companies, the average response time is 7 hours and 4 minutes. But, you’ll need to ask yourself, do you want to provide average service? Will that differentiate your MSP in the market? The top 5% respond in 16 minutes. Considering that data, where do you currently fall and where do you want to fall? Next, consult with your clients. Ask them how you’re doing, where you excel, and where you may be missing the mark. While you should be tracking and reporting regularly, as well as  eliciting feedback via surveys, it’s never a bad idea to have this conversation. Once you’ve established what services you offer, what industry standards are, where you’re currently performing, and, according to your clients, where you can improve, it’s time to re-evaluate those SLAs. Finally, consult with your team, both leadership and those providing the service, to determine what services you can add, improve, or even remove with the end goal of not only increasing customer satisfaction, but building a better MSP. Your SLA is a tool for your customer, your relationship, and for your own business as well. Top 5 KPIs your MSP should track for service level management There are many key performance indicators for service level management that you could track, especially for an MSP. Much of your work and relationship with clients relies upon your ability to provide the services you’ve defined at the level you’ve agreed to. While some of these KPIs are internal, meaning you’ll track it solely from within your organization, other examples are KPIs you’ll want to report to your MSP clients.   1. SLA success and failure rates How often does your organization meet or fail to deliver services within the bounds of its SLAs? Naturally, this can be hard to track, considering how different individual SLAs can be from one organization to the next.   For example, an SLA could be “99% Uptime year-round” for a cloud computing service, while a cybersecurity company might have SLAs like “identify and resolve security breaches within two hours.”   If your number of breached SLAs is high, that might indicate that your SLAs are too strict, or that a critical tool or resource is missing. This could be a good opportunity to revisit your SLAs and processes and reevaluate them to improve service delivery.   2. SLA cost metrics In any business management strategy, analyzing costs against profits is a basic necessity. Setting up performance metrics that track the cost of meeting SLA targets can be crucial for monitoring the sustainability of a service level agreement.   If costs are running high, it may be necessary to revisit either the SLA itself or the means used to meet it. For example, if you have an SLA of “resolving security breaches within two hours” as a managed security service provider (MSSP) and were maintaining the SLA by having on-duty staff monitoring the client network at all hours, odds are your costs would be high. Here, applying an automated threat detection solution or even an intrusion prevention system would reduce the need to dedicate labor to the task and reduce costs.   By tracking cost metrics for your SLAs, you can more effectively manage your budget and make adjustments to improve the long-term viability of your services.   3. Time to response Many SLAs are time-sensitive, promising certain actions or outcomes within a given period of time. Because of this, one critical performance metric to monitor is the time it takes to respond to an incident, issue, or trouble ticket. The shorter the wait between event and action, the better.   If you notice that your response time is too long, it may be a good idea to take a look at your notification processes and workflows for delivering services. This helps you improve your service level management by identifying ways to optimize response times.   4. Customer Retention Rate Most businesses understand that keeping customers is far more cost effective than acquiring new ones. Further, data suggests that improving your customer retention rate by even 5% can boost profits by 25-95%. However, if you’re not retaining customers, this KPI may be the canary in the coal mine. If you notice your customer retention rate decreasing, it’s time to take action.  5. Average resolution time While keeping tabs on how quickly you respond to client needs and issues is vital, knowing how quickly you resolve them is equally important. Obviously clients want a low response time, but those who have a low resolution time are likely to be happier. In fact, the average service resolution time is roughly 3 days with the top 20% resolving issues in just under 2 days. How quickly you are able to resolve client issues is crucial to building both your reputation and your client relationship. It’s probably pretty obvious that the quicker you resolve problems, the more they’ll depend on you and stay with your business rather than seeking another MSP. Using KPIs to improve service level management The examples listed above are just a few potential KPIs you could use to improve your service level management. When selecting performance metrics for your service level agreements, consider:   How closely the KPI reflects the intent of the SLA; How the information the KPI provides could be used to improve the SLA; Whether you need multiple KPIs to thoroughly assess SLA performance; and Whether you or your employees can control the performance metric for the SLA.   Ideally, the metrics you choose should have a strong correlation to the SLA, be useful for tweaking how you approach service delivery, and be something you can improve. Providing an SLA Report While monitoring “internal” SLAs such as your success/failure rate at meeting SLA metrics, monitoring the metrics that impact your client are just as important (response time etc). And, it’s not just enough to track and monitor those KPIs and regularly report on your successes to your clients. That’s the purpose of an SLA report, to keep your client in the know, maintain transparency, and continuously monitor your business’s performance when it comes to the delivery of agreed upon service. It should be a core part of your service offering and provides the justification your client needs to maintain your relationship. Make SLA tracking and reporting easy with dashboards In summary, monitoring the right KPIs, both yours and your clients, and being able to report those, as needed, are vital to client retention. Those crucial elements for monitoring and reporting on service level KPIs are processes that BrightGauge can help with. First, service level KPIs often require pulling data from multiple sources. This often means switching between applications or screens and spending significant time entering that data into a spreadsheet. That type of slow down is avoidable, especially when using BrightGauge’s dashboard tool. Instead of spending your time pulling data, BrightGauge does that for you and presents it on a convenient dashboard, enabling you to visualize your KPIs on a single display when and how you need it. While there are dashboards ready to go out-of-the-box, it’s a fully customizable tool meaning you can pick and choose what you need and then share that information with team members. Not only are those KPIs shareable with the team members who help you meet your goals, but the automated reporting feature means that in minutes you can send reports to clients that demonstrate how you’re progressing on service level KPIs saving you time and building strong client relationships. Need help to improve your MSP's KPI tracking so you can use metrics to optimize your service level management? Reach out to the BrightGauge team to learn more!

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