Running a business in the digital age requires using a wide array of technologies — hardware, software, cloud infrastructure, and cybersecurity, to name a few. And, because nothing really works in ...
Running a business in the digital age requires using a wide array of technologies — hardware, software, cloud infrastructure, and cybersecurity, to name a few. And, because nothing really works in silos, it’s vital for each of these components to work seamlessly together. This is crucial to maximize efficiency and reduce the risk of errors. Thankfully, software integrations make this a reality. But what, exactly, are they? In what ways can they affect your business? And how do you know which type would work best for you? Quick Links What Are Software Integrations? 5 Reasons Why Software Integrations Are a Must Types of Software Integrations How Integrations Affect Business Operations Custom vs Out-of-the-Box Integrations The Software Integration Process How Do BrightGauge Integrations Work? What Are Software Integrations? Software integration means syncing different types of software so that your entire team can do their jobs effectively. It’s what allows you to pull all data together instead of having each piece of information isolated from each other. Imagine if your email weren’t connected to your calendar or project management system. Or if your cloud infrastructure couldn’t be enabled to be accessed by people outside of your organization — such as business partners and clients. While it seems like common sense, it’s actually a common challenge many businesses face; especially as they grow and their number of applications keep expanding: customer relationship management (CRM), content management system (CMS), inventory management software, etc. Fortunately, software companies are being proactive about solving this issue. And businesses who aren’t staying on top of this trend will undoubtedly see unfavorable consequences. 5 Reasons Why Software Integrations Are a Must Software integration should always be non-negotiable. When your tools are able to work together, your entire team — and your bottom line — reaps the benefits: 1. Improved Efficiency Think about all the job roles that overlap: sales and marketing, legal and compliance, finance and payroll. If everyone had to enter information manually and relay this data to other departments via other forms of communications, your operations would slow down significantly. Time would be wasted. Items would fall through the cracks. Fortunately, when you're integrating systems, your business data is shared across all your tools. 2. Improved Cost Effectiveness Having to find and export information can be time consuming — time that could be better used running the business, nurturing your leads, and closing sales. Time is money, and software integrations save you a lot of both. 3. Increased Productivity When all applications are communicating with each other, you remove delays caused by having to manually share information among departments. This type of information flow allows all members of your company to access files and know the status of projects within seconds. 4. Reduced Risk of Error Not having to rely on humans to input information sourced from elsewhere means a lower likelihood of mistakes, incomplete information, or duplicate work. This ensures reliability and better performance. 5. Better Customer Service Integrations improve customer service in a couple of ways: When a client calls, no matter to whom they’re speaking with, your team member will have all relevant information — regardless of whether it relates to sales, marketing, or support. Types of Software Integrations There are several types of software integrations. Which one would be the most ideal for your business depends on your circumstances — such as the size of your team, your number of applications, and the need for each department to collaborate. Specifically, you can look for any of the following: Star Integration Star integrations (also known as spaghetti integrations) refers to inter-departmental interconnection of all their applications. This method provides high functionality, but the higher the number of connected apps, the more complex it can become to manage it. Horizontal Integration Horizontal integration refers to having one main, central system that links to all other applications — yet the rest of the applications aren’t connected to each other. The central system is known as an enterprise service bus (ESB). Vertical Integration Vertical integration links applications based on how closely related they are within their job functions. This can be an efficient way to avoid confusion and unnecessary connections. However, each interconnected section works in silos; so you may still need to exchange communications manually should the need arise. Common Data Format If all your systems require different semantics to understand data, you would need an adapter to convert it every time it communicates with another application. This can be solved with common data format integration, which consolidates data from several sources and keeps it all stored in a single location. How Integrations Affect Business Operations If you’re old school, you may be tempted to think that if things have been working out fine with integrations, why change it? However, no person is an island. Your competitors are implementing them; and you don’t want to be the slowest business in the industry based on something as preventable as relying on outdated technology. Software integrations provide you with the right information exactly when you need it — so you can make data-driven decisions as fast as possible. In addition, software integrations enable you to run your business with a smaller team. By all means, hire as you scale; just not because your team feels short-staffed and overextended by the time and effort it takes to enter data manually across applications. Custom vs. Out-of-the-Box Integrations Ok. So you know you need software integrations to optimize your business operations. It also behooves you to be aware that there are two ways to purchase them: Custom Integrations Custom software integrations are specifically catered to your business needs. They are flexible, can integrate with all the other applications you use, and they can give you a competitive edge over other businesses who are still using standard software. Do keep in mind that they have a steeper learning curve and require a higher budget. That said, they are beneficial on a long-term basis, as they can be scaled and adjusted as your business grows. Out-of-the-Box Integrations Out-of-the-box software integrations are relatively easy to learn how to use, and are ideal for businesses with standard operations (CRM, marketing, sales, support). There’s minimal effort to set it up and there’s no technical experience required; so you can start using it soon after purchase. Some of them also allow for minor customization. The Software Integration Process If you’re ready to get the ball rolling on integrations, first develop a roadmap that can help you determine what you need. Follow along with these tips: Identify Your Business Needs Make a list of all the solutions you are currently seeking. Get feedback from your team — especially those right on the front lines — about which types of processes would enable them to do their jobs more efficiently. Analyze Feasibility Does what you need exist? If not, can it be designed? Can you compromise on anything? Will you need additional features in the near future? You need to take into account all of these questions to make a cost-effective decision. Otherwise you could end up making a purchase now, only to find out later that you’ll need to make another one a handful of months or years down the road. Design the Infrastructure Which apps need to be connected with which other ones? Which departments need to work together or have overlapping elements? This will help you determine whether you need a vertical, horizontal, or star integration, and optimize workflows. Leverage Testing If you opt for a customized solution, it needs to be tailored to your needs, and you should perform quality assurance. And even with a straight out-of-the-box solution, it needs to be tested once integrated with all of your required software and ensure all relevant data transfers are performed successfully. Provide Maintenance Once installed, remember to perform routine maintenance checks to detect and patch any bugs and/or install necessary upgrades. It is also during this stage that you can decide whether it’s time to install additional features as your business needs evolve. How Do BrightGauge Integrations Work? At BrightGauge, one of our northern stars is to provide excellent customer service. We understand that’s the backbone of any company — ours and yours. It’s because of this reason that all our products (dashboards, goal management, and client reporting) integrate with many of the tools you're already using. We also regularly listen to our customers’ wants and needs — providing solutions that address your specific challenges means giving you back hours of your time. Our integrations process goes through several steps: Look into the existing support for software to integrate. Determine which key performance indicators the software will allow our tools to track. See if the tools are hosted or cloud-based. Understand complexity of connecting into their API. Determine if their database supports third-party queries. We also take a good look into whether the trackable KPIs are relevant to your needs. This is because we always strive to provide you with useful data that can help you make better informed decisions. Choosing the Right Integration Tools Integrating software doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you can have your business operations running as smoothly as possible. If you are looking to customize some of your own integrations, speaking with a product engineer is a great place to start. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8 - 10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge integrations and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
Modern life runs on data. Even if you don’t track anything in your personal life, search engines and social media do it for you. You understand it’s by design, to show you content you would be interested in, or to try to persuade you that yes, you indeed need yet another pair of running shoes. And when it comes to your professional life, you’re aware that collecting business intelligence is the only sound way of tracking progress and making decisions. The reasons can be endless — getting an overview of website visitors, conversion rates, or customer support tickets, to name a few. But what’s the most efficient way of doing so? With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to look into what would be the ideal solution for your needs. Enter data warehousing and snapshots. Up until this point, you may not have been aware of how much you need them. But need them, you do. Quick Links What is Data Warehousing? How a Data Warehouse Works 5 Benefits of BrightGauge Snapshots, a Data Warehousing Solution How To Set Up Snapshot Gauges BrightGauge Provides Effective Data Warehousing With Snapshots What is Data Warehousing? Data warehousing refers to the electronic storage of business information. It facilitates data management by allowing users to organize, categorize, and analyze large amounts of data. They are different from traditional databases because data warehouses are specifically designed to perform analytics from large quantities of information. Data warehouses can extract information from a wide array of sources, including: Relational databases Data software Business applications Processing systems Marketing and sales departments Finance And many more They are beneficial because they collect information consistently, make it easily accessible, allow collaboration, and enable data-driven decision making. And just like servers, infrastructure is available to keep on-site or cloud-based. Another benefit is that you can compare up-to-date data with historical information so that you can have reference points, track progress, and identify trends. How a Data Warehouse Works Data warehouses source information at regular intervals — or cadence. You can then create dashboards so that you can identify insights from the collected information. This process involves three layers of data: The first layer contains the extracted information. The second layer transforms/formats the information. The third layer organizes it and displays it on dashboards. This process is known as ETL (for extract, transform, and load); and it’s an invaluable tool to analyze business intelligence, since not only does it integrate information from multiple sources, it also provides an in-depth historical context. 5 Benefits of BrightGauge Snapshots, a Data Warehousing Solution At BrightGauge, we offer data warehousing, as well as an upgraded version for our customers on our enterprise plan, Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). This upgraded version includes a Snapshots feature, which captures even more in-depth, complex data and performs calculations. There are several clear advantages to using our Snapshots solution: 1. Use Automatic Compilation of Metrics Data can come from so many different sources, in so many different formats. And while there are many tools that help businesses compile data, our Snapshots feature does so automatically and displays it all in one custom-made chart. 2. Track End-of-Day Tickets Customer service is the backbone of any business — and it’s something every company should consistently work on improving. Since Snapshots collect data automatically, you’ll be able to easily identify whether your support services are efficient or whether you have an expanding backlog of tickets. 3. Keep Track of Pipeline Health By the same token, Snapshots can provide you a detailed view of your sales pipeline, as well as whether you’re on track to meeting your sales goals. And it’s not just a matter of how many sales qualified leads are present at any given moment. You also want to be able to track performance at each stage of the buyer’s journey, as well as the costs associated with getting people to the bottom of that funnel. 4. See Your Sales Cycle Timeline How long does it take you to close a sale? How much time do you have to spend nurturing leads before they become so enamored with your services, they choose you over your competitors? It can take months for B2B marketing to work its magic — maybe a slightly shorter timeframe for SaaS businesses. But you want to keep track of the entire process to see whether you can identify any areas for improvement. 5. Remote Monitoring and Management Tracking If you're managing your company's network through an RMM tool — such as ConnectWise Automate — Snapshots can gather information regarding space usage, server patch status, operating systems, or anything regarding your infrastructure, so that you can identify trending endpoints. How To Set Up Snapshot Gauges The Snapshots feature is only available on the Enterprise Plan; and you can turn any gauge in your account into a snapshot. Find a metric that you want to track. Select the timeframe you want to take the snapshots — daily, weekly, or monthly. You can do this by clicking on Design on the top left navigation bar, then scrolling down to the Schedule green button on the left side of the screen. If you choose weekly or monthly, you can choose on the dropdown menus which day of the week or month you want to take the snapshots. Select the number of data points you want to include on the graph from the drop down menu that’s located under the scheduled dates and times. Remove the dimensions on the gauges by clicking on Dimensions on the navigation bar at the top of the screen. Select the gauge you’re tracking from the icons at the top of the page. Select the camera icon at the top of the page. The most recent data will always appear on the top right corner of the snapshot. As you continue selecting the camera icon for the different gauges you want to track, you’ll see each section appearing in the middle of the snapshot’s graph. If you need visual instructions for how to do this step-by-step, you can watch the video tutorial on our website. BrightGauge Provides Effective Data Warehousing with Snapshots If you are toggling between many tools, pulling data from each of them, inputting it into an Excel spreadsheet, and then spending hours analyzing it to draw conclusions, you could be eating into many valuable hours of your time. BrightGauge gives you back that time. Some of our partners have said that our tools have saved them eight to 10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge Snapshots and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
Data is everything. It’s what you use to ensure that you’re on track to meeting your goals. It’s what you study to compare what works and what doesn’t. It’s what you analyze when deciding what to do next. This is not news. However, every day, different software products pop up, promising to make your life at work run a lot smoother. Some do. Others are so confusing, it’s easier to just move forward without them. But something you should be paying attention to are data dashboards. These nifty tools can significantly increase your business efficiency — without requiring that you become a tech expert to understand them. But, what exactly are they? What are their benefits? And how can they make your workflows more effective? Quick Links What Are Data Dashboards? Why Use Data Dashboards? 10 Ways Data Dashboards Improve Efficiency Data Dashboards Best Practices BrightGauge's Dashboards Facilitate Data Visualization What Are Data Dashboards? Data dashboards are snapshots displaying key performance indicators (KPIs). Your KPIs being gathered depend on your specific goals. For example, if you’re looking to increase website visitors, you may track not only the traffic to your website, but how long they spend on each page, how far down they scroll, and whether a particular page has a higher than usual bounce rate. By the same token, if you’re looking to improve your customer support department, you would track the number of issues logged in a day, average wait times, and resolution rates. Specialized dashboards can be customized depending on a company's needs. Individual department dashboards, such as service operations, sales, security, network performance, and finance, are one way a company can track their corporate functions. Why Use Data Dashboards? Using data dashboards ensures that you are looking at all the relevant data you need, in one centralized location — in real time. You’ll want to use dashboards that you can customize to display data in a way that makes sense to you. Pie charts, line graphs, gauges, bar charts, etc. The key is in being able to access the information quickly and fully understand what’s going on at a glance. Once you have this information right in front of you, you’ll be enabled to make data-driven decisions to improve processes and performance within your business. Small to medium-sized business owners know what a big difference the smallest decision can make. The more knowledge you have, the more apt you are to make the right one. The more right decisions you make for your company, the higher its productivity. 10 Ways Data Dashboards Improve Efficiency Ok. So data dashboards are essential to improve business efficiency. However, it’s good to be aware of the many ways in which it does so: 1. Create a Visual Presentation Using visual aids such as graphs and charts, you are able to see all collected performance data in measurable amounts. 2. Centralize Your Data You’ll no longer have to sort through information from separate files, or request personnel from different departments to help you prepare charts from multiple sources. 3. Achieve Transparency When the data is right in front of you, it’s easier to communicate (and show!) to everyone involved what’s going on within a department. No guesses or euphemisms. You can’t hide from numbers. 4. Automate Reporting You can save hours from your work day by using software that generates automated reports, instead of you having to manually create one. 5. Track Data in Real Time Linking dashboards to your data sources allows for up-to-the-minute data review. This can be crucial in certain industries, such as healthcare and finance. 6. Identify Insights You can’t improve what you can’t measure. If what you’re tracking seems to be going well, continue with the current processes. But if there is a decline (in productivity, quality, service), you’ll be able to see where the issues are coming from and make informed decisions on what to do next. 7. Improve Focus Since you can set what it is you want to measure, you won’t be distracted by irrelevant data; nor will you waste time trying to theorize what’s causing roadblocks within your processes. 8. Drive Productivity Your team will be better able to perform their job roles when they know exactly what’s working and what needs to be improved. Dashboards can also help you gauge capacity, so that you can determine whether there’s a need for additional training or new hires. 9. Improve Time Management It’s quicker and more efficient to run one report rather than multiple reports. Information on dashboards is organized for an optimum overview. 10. Create a Data-Driven Culture When you have clear data, you can make faster decisions. And because they’re based on accurate information, you’ll be eliminating instances of trial and error. This will enable you to significantly improve work for your team and experiences for your customers. Data Dashboards Best Practices Now that you’re aware of all the benefits of implementing the use of data dashboards in your business practices, it’s time to go over several best practices. Select Relevant KPIs Traditional KPIs include factors such as customer acquisition costs, revenue per client, customer lifetime value (CLV), and client retention, to name a few. You then take this data to make informed decisions regarding all of your business strategies. However, limit the KPIs to choose exclusively to those who will help you move the needle forward on a particular task. If you’re looking to analyze client retention, you can include existing customer revenue growth, repeat purchase, and churn rates. Be Consistent With Labeling Keep language consistent across all of your business tools — customer relationship management software, files, and metrics. This will help avoid confusion and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings or mistakes. Choose a Layout That Makes Sense to the Reader Remember how we mentioned above that you can design a dashboard’s layout? Fabulous. Now, keep in mind that for them to be beneficial, they should be displayed in the reader’s preference. Not necessarily you as the CEO (unless they’re being prepared for you), but for the team member who will then use the data to inform their decisions. Nobody has time for boring or confusing reports. The reader should be able to understand what they’re looking at and what everything means with a simple explanation or review of the dashboard’s legend. Use Responsive Dashboards Data dashboards aren’t meant to just look pretty. Interactive elements (such as being able to filter, compare, and link data) make them a lot more useful. They also help you analyze data within context and see real-time updates. Communicate Regularly Every few months, re-evaluate if your current KPIs and layouts are aligned with your priorities. If there have been any changes in circumstances, communicate with your team about them and determine whether it’s time to update your dashboards accordingly. BrightGauge’s Dashboards Facilitate Data Visualization When it comes to choosing your business intelligence tools, you want to choose options that have all the functionality you need, out of the box, without complex coding involved. BrightGauge’s data dashboards integrate with over 40 platforms and are fully customizable to your business needs. You choose the metrics that matter. We help you monitor them.
When it comes to directing a Professional Services team, staying organized is critical. One effective and productive way to keep a pulse on your team is to consistently track key metrics. This month, we chatted with Craig Howarth, the Director of Professional Services at Nuago, to see how he keeps his team organized. Craig kindly shared his key metrics dashboard, which he uses in his role managing pre-sales, project management, and consulting services team members. Craig utilizes a main Professional Services Key Metrics dashboard for himself, and provides individual dashboards to each of his team leads. Those team leads then customize their dashboards to fit their own specific needs, but all tie back to the main Professional Services Key Metrics dashboard. Professional Services Key Metrics dashboard - view here Here are some of the key metrics Craig and his team are tracking, and some context around why and how these metrics provide valuable insights: Billable hours by Work Role: This 12-week view helps Craig identify trends over time. Using a trend line, he can quickly see how close they are to their target utilization. The team's billable utilization: This gauge plots 3 lines - the team's combined capacity, the team's combined hours, and the team's target utilization (which is 75% of their capacity). Nuago uses an adjusted capacity, removing PTO and holiday time from the equation. This helps them plan and schedule upcoming work and informs hiring decisions. Blended Rates: This helps track different billable rates and includes shared resources. The blend impacts their total revenue and gross margin. Nuago will budget on a blend for the year and then monitor against this gauge. Invoicing Metrics: This provides a near real-time view of what invoices have been sent to the customer, and a total to see how they are tracking against the target for the month. CSAT: An important KPI to gauge performance and a great way to share positive feedback with the team overall. Budget v Actual: Craig has created a calculation for effective utilization, measuring the ability to deliver an engagement against budget. It’s one of the key profit drivers along with utilization, billable rates, and resourcing costs. If their effective utilization metric is over 100%, they came in under budget and vice versa. Having this for open projects as well allows them to spot an issue and take corrective action. Project Costing Summary: Important in measuring true profitability as it takes things like discounting into account. Thank you, Craig, for being our partner and sharing this great dashboard with us! If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for your team, check out the links below: Professional Services Key Metrics Dashboard (public view link) Professional Services Key Metrics Dashboard Buildout Key Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions!
We live in a world where everything is tracked. Your phone knows where you’re located at all times. Your SEO tools let you know how many website visitors you get each day. Your Fitbit lets you know that, hey, you should get up from that chair and go walk a mile or two. If you could’ve visited the future when you were a kid, you would probably think it’s really cool or really creepy. Regardless of possible worries your self of seasons past may have experienced, the reality is that tracking certain metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial to ensure your business success. That’s why knowing how to create effective business reports is one of the most useful skills in any industry. Quick Links What is a Business Report? Benefits of Business Reports 7 Types of Business Reports 8 Components of Business Reports How To Write a Business Report How Dashboards Help With Business Intelligence Reporting How To Create Impactful Business Reports Using Dashboards Choosing the Right Client Reporting Tools What Is a Business Report? A business report is a document that reflects a collection of data. This information can be varied, depending on the type of report, and can include: Research findings Statistics Department insights Team performance Details about a company’s operations Viability of projects Industry compliance Costs Profits Industry forecasts In addition to all relevant information, these reports include recommendations on how to move forward so that you can meet your business goals. Benefits of Business Reports There are several reasons why you would want to develop business reports. While specific advantages may vary depending on the type of report and the reason for conducting it, common benefits include: Identifying Insights Business reports can help you identify things you would’ve otherwise missed — such as noncompliance with an amended regulation, business opportunities, or ways to optimize your participation in certain industry events. Improving Decision Making The last thing you want to do when running a business is to invest time and money into something that will result in losses. Business reports can provide information whether business ideas are viable, whether there’s a market demand for them, and whether you have the budget to do it. By analyzing these types of compilations, you can ensure that all of your decisions are backed up by reliable data. Decreasing Business Costs Since business reports can show you whether a project is feasible, an investment is sound, and whether a proposed transaction is within your budget, they are an invaluable tool to ensure you’re not wasting money or otherwise hurting your business financially. 7 Types of Business Reports 1. Research Research business reports make in-depth analysis of a specific subject, including: market research, buyer persona development, product development, marketing, customer satisfaction, new technologies, and more. 2. Feasibility Whenever someone in your business comes up with an idea — whether to launch a new product or services, or open a new location, for example — you want to analyze everything associated with it. This includes costs, funding sources, benefits, potential issues, whether you have the budget, and whether the idea would be profitable. 3. Investigative Investigative business reports gather information related to anticipated events, such as merging with another company, making large investments, or looking into claims of mismanagement or malfeasance within the company. By analyzing this information, a business can determine the level of risks. 4. Compliance Many industries — such as healthcare, legal, finance, and cybersecurity, to name a few — are regulated by professional, local, or federal rules/laws. Failing to comply with them could result in fines, sanctions, loss of business license, or criminal prosecution. Compliance reports keep track of all relevant factors, so that an organization can hold members accountable and prove that they are complying with regulating entities. 5. Situational Situational reports are exactly what it sounds like — if you recently attended a convention, implemented new measures, invested in new technology, restructured your company — you want to be able to discuss all relevant subjects and how it affects your company: processes, human resources, new business opportunities, etc. 6. Financial Financial business reports are prepared periodically by most businesses to ensure whether they are on track to achieving their quarterly profit goals. They are designed to align with the company’s business plan and identify any issues — such as a potential decrease in revenue, or the need to ramp up sales. 7. Operational Operational business reports showcase whether a company’s processes are efficient, whether all departments have the resources they need to conduct their jobs, teams’ productivity, and identify any opportunities for improvements, such as implementing new technologies, having back-up vendors, or anything else that can help the business run as efficiently as possible. 8 Components of a Business Report While the contents of a business report will vary depending on their purpose, you want to make sure that they are all organized and easy to understand. Generally, you’ll want to include: 1. Title Page The person reading the report should immediately know what the report is about. And in addition to the name of the study, the title page should include the name of the individuals or organizations who prepared the report. 2. Summary While some reports don’t include a summary, having one is beneficial to those who requested the data. To make sure you keep your customers happy, always ask them whether they would prefer to have a synopsis at the beginning of the report — including summarized findings and recommendations. 3. Table of Contents Although the table of contents appears at the beginning of the report, it would be better to create a rough draft of an outline, but actually finish the table when you’re done preparing the report. All titles, subheadings, and page numbers should match exactly as they appear in the body of the business report. 4. Introduction This is where you’ll write the reason why the report was needed in the first place. Include background information so that the reader can read the data within context, and include any definitions of industry jargon or legal terms. 5. Methodology Explain to the reader the methods used to conduct the research, and why you used such methods — such as efficiency, industry best practices, regulatory requirements, whether you’re using qualitative or quantitative data, sources of information, and why you selected those sources. 6. Findings Include all relevant details of findings and conclusions. This section should be thorough, but also easy to skim. Include bullet points, easy-to-read charts, graphs, percentages, and/or comparison charts. 7. Recommendations Include actionable steps based on the gathered information. As with the findings, make it scannable. Bullet points work well because they are short and straight to the point. 8. References Include all sources of information used to prepare the report. This can include industry publications, third-party experts, organizations, periodicals, studies, etc. Make sure to list them in alphabetical order. How to Write a Business Report The content, format, and style of each report will depend on the type of report and on your client’s preferences. However, you’ll want to include all of the components listed above (except the summary, if your client says they don’t want it). You’ll also want to: Look for industry templates or ask your client how they prefer it to be formatted. Make it easy to navigate — especially if it’s a longer or complex report. You want it to be useful; do not frustrate the reader. Include visuals. Nobody wants to read a wall of text. This is where charts and graphs come in handy. Edit for consistency. Make sure all headings and subheadings are written in the same style and follow a cohesive order. Proofread it. Then have someone else proof it. It doesn’t matter how short on time you are. You always want to submit a professional work product. How Dashboards Help With Business Intelligence Reporting There are several reasons why it’s recommended to include dashboards in business reports. Customizable You can choose how you want the data to look. Display information in a preferred order, include ad hoc displays, match brand colors and internal styles, and any additional components the reader prefers. Easy to Understand Dashboards are extremely useful to help readers understand concepts. Depending on who the intended audience is, you can provide general overviews or provide detailed insights. Save Time Instead of sorting through pages to pinpoint findings, dashboards provide them all in one centralized location for easier reference. Real Time Data Analysis Insights and trends can change from one day to the next. Dashboards update in real time to provide the most accurate information. How to Create Impactful Business Reports Using Dashboards There are three main things you want to keep in mind to create impactful dashboards for a business report: Choose the Right KPIs Key performance indicators are data points that you gauge to determine whether you’re on track to reach a goal — increasing productivity, revenue, or improved client retention, to name a few. Anything that’s critical to paint an accurate picture of the viability or status of a project, financial or operational health of an organization, or compliance status of all departments should be included in your dashboards, depending on the type of business report. Keep the Reader in Mind You’re preparing the reports for your client, yes. But who’s going to read it? Is it the CEO, managers, compliance officers, stakeholders? Depending on their job role, the dashboard may only need to provide a general overview, or go into minute details. Be Mindful of Data Visualization Humans are visual species. We can process images faster, and are better able to recollect information when presented in visually appealing ways. So even if you have cited the most reputable sources in the industry, dashboards help your client to better understand the information presented — and much faster than having to go back and forth to refer to multiple paragraphs. Choosing the Right Client Reporting Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. In fact, our client reporting tool makes it easy to turn the data you're already tracking in dashboards into professional, reliable reports for your clients to consume. BrightGauge features include the ability to: Create internal or client-facing reports. Build a report from scratch or use one of our templates. Customize each report to fit your needs. Set a schedule so that reports are generated and go out automatically to recipients. The automated reports are generated based on the gauges/dashboards you’re already tracking. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
What is your strategy when it comes to client reporting? Are you sending client reports on a regular basis? How are you determining what data to include in your reports? How are you generating your reports? Not carving out time to formalize this process or put enough thought into it can lead to a missed opportunity. Client reports are a powerful tool when it comes to customer retention and maintaining solid relationships. With a little organization, client reporting is a practice you can implement fairly quickly and easily. Let’s explore. What is a client report? Simply put, a client report is a document you send to your clients on a regular basis, showing them important metrics pertaining to their organization or environment. For example, if you’re a managed service provider (MSP) who handles your client’s endpoints, you may report on the status of their networks and devices and what actions you took in a given time period to mitigate any security threats they may have faced. Client reports should be based on fact and should refrain from being censored in any way, so a comprehensive report will show the natural ups and downs that any client-partner relationship faces. A client report should be a relatively quick and easy way for key stakeholders and decision-makers to consume important information and drive business decisions. Most often, it shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out report that takes a lot of time to comb through and analyze (long, in-depth reports make more sense during quarterly business reviews). Why do we need client reporting? It’s a fact that it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. After you’ve extended efforts to bring on a new client, it’s critical to nurture that relationship and make sure they stick with you for the long term. Creating a relationship based on trust and transparency lays a solid foundation for repeat business. Think about it from the client’s perspective: they’re already paying you, they already know how you work, you already know the environment, and you’ve already established a rapport. It would be a waste of their time to have to vet and hire a new vendor to do the work you’re already doing. So it’s truly in everybody’s best interest to protect the existing relationship and strengthen it over time. One of the most powerful ways to build up trust and transparency is to get in the habit of sending client reports. Especially in a world where we are mostly working remotely (i.e., fewer on-site visits with clients), it’s hard to show all the work that goes into your day-to-day. A report lays out your value for a decision-maker to see. You can almost compare it to an itemized invoice that lists out many functions that your client otherwise would not be privy to. Further, because reports are based on facts and show the good and the bad, they position you as a credible and trusted partner, not just a vendor. You’re giving the full picture of what’s happening versus trying hard to just make yourself look good. Client reports also serve as a sort of audit for decision-makers. Imagine your point of contact leaves your client’s place of employment. All the reports you’ve sent in the past will act as a paper trail of sorts to show the value of your partnership so that the person who is signing your checks doesn’t hesitate to continue signing them. What things should be included in a client report? The specific data and metrics to include in a client report format will vary from client to client. It really depends on your role, what your service level agreement (SLA) outlines, how often you’re sending the report, and what your point of contact cares most about. That being said, here are 10 things that all client reports should include: 1. Benchmarks Whether you’re setting these standards for yourself or your client is doing that for you, include some benchmarks to measure yourself against. This way, your client can easily see how you’re stacking up for that given time period. Plus, they will appreciate that you’re working hard to meet the highest standards and you’re human enough to understand that you may not always be perfect. A good way to determine what benchmarks to set is to use your SLA as a guide. Average Time to Response is a common example - in your SLA, you may have agreed to always respond to tickets within 30 minutes or less. In your reports, you may want to always include your benchmark (30 minutes) versus your actual performance for the given period. 2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) KPI tracking is such an important part of running a business. KPIs are like a north star that help guide the company along the right path to success. Businesses like MSPs will often have their own internal KPIs they are regularly tracking and external KPIs that help assess the level of service they’re providing their customers. Some external KPIs may even be used to determine if a client is a right fit. Here are examples of KPIs you may be including in your client reports: Average Time to Response Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score Open versus Closed Tickets Net Promoter Score Billable Hours Activity Level/Health Score 3. Metrics Tied to KPIs are metrics, which are trackable bits of data or that will help you piece together how well or not you’re performing. In other words, they are results. There are many different metrics you can be tracking at any given moment across the various departments within your organization. When it comes to including metrics in your client reports, you want to be purposeful about the ones you choose to include. They should be tied to KPIs that clients find important and they should be high-level. Client reports are not typically the time to get too granular with metrics as you want clients to digest the right information as quickly as possible - think quality over quantity here. Depending on the cadence of your report delivery, you’ll want to choose the metrics that best tell the story for your given time frame. For example, in a monthly report you would want to focus on average kill rate percentage versus showing tickets opened today. 4. Goals The practice of goal-setting is good for everyone to engage in - at the individual level and organizational level, on a personal level and a professional level, for the short term and the long term, and so on. Showing clients how you’re setting and tracking against goals helps to reinforce that foundation of trust you are building your relationship upon. You and your clients may even be coming up with goals together. In your client reports, you can show progress of your goals using a simple chart or graph just as a visual reminder of where you stand. By the way, benchmarks and goals can get confused with one another, but think of goals as the desired end result and benchmarks as the milestones you have to hit to reach your goals. 5. Budget There are two important areas to consider when it comes to communicating about budget in your client reports: dollars and hours. You want to show clients how their forecasted budget is tracking against projects completed or in progress. To put it simply, show them how you’re stretching their budgets to cover the most amount of work. In addition, you’ll want to make sure everything is on track in terms of budgeted hours. Are your techs billing hours correctly? Are there any issues you need to point out to your clients? How can you mitigate any time issues before it starts impacting your client negatively? These are topics you should be touching upon on an ongoing basis. 6. Revenue If you’re involved in your client’s finances in any way, data pertaining to revenue MUST be included in each of your client reports. As an MSP, if you’re managing your client’s endpoints, you may want to demonstrate how keeping warranties, patches, and machines up to date makes a positive financial impact over time. Anything impacting cash flow or profitability is going to be high on the list of priorities for clients, so take care and be precise when reporting on these numbers. 7. ROI Tracking Communicating on ROI is a big topic when it comes to nurturing that client relationship. Decision makers and key contacts are going to be really interested in how their investment in you will benefit them. This is closely tied to revenue reporting. If you can demonstrate how your client’s investments can result in big gains or cost savings or measurable business growth, you’re going to put yourself in a great position to continue earning their business. 8. Areas of Improvement Nobody does everything right 100% of the time. Whether you are sending daily, weekly, or monthly reports, it’s a good idea to highlight areas where you didn’t perform to the standards you would have liked, include context as to why performance was lagging, and identify solutions to prevent subpar performance in the future. 9. Summary of Events Your clients may not be aware of the scale of work that goes into protecting their environment. If you are out of sight, what you are doing may be out of mind for them. Including a summary of events that you’ve covered (most likely without their awareness) will help them understand how proactive you are and how much time and effort goes into keeping their businesses running smoothly. 10. Reporting the Good and the Bad We’ve said it before but it bears repeating itself over and over again: you can’t only report on the wins. When it comes to client reporting, it pays to be fully transparent all of the time. Mistakes happen, things fall through the cracks, and lessons are learned. Clients will be especially understanding of this if you don’t censor anything from them and if you’re constantly working on ways to course correct in the future. Even better, if an error occurred and you fixed it before your client noticed or before your report was due, including it in your report and outlining what was done to mitigate the error will show how valuable it is to have you as a partner. By doing this, you show that you’re not going to your clients with problems. You’re going to them with solutions. The right client reporting tool We’ve heard of many people not being consistent with client reporting simply because they take too much time to pull together. If you are toggling between many tools, pulling data off of each tool, inputting that data into an Excel spreadsheet, and then spending hours analyzing that data to draw conclusions, you could be eating into many valuable hours of your time. With an automated client reporting system like BrightGauge, you win that time back and you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have said that our client reporting tool has saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks. With BrightGauge, you’ll get pre-built report templates that you can quickly populate with your client’s information, making it very easy to get started right out-of-the box. Even if you build reports from scratch, you can set them to automatically send out on the dates and times you choose, so you can rest assured that your client will get that report delivered to their inbox on a regular basis. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge client reporting system and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
How many software programs do you use a day? From Gmail and Microsoft suites to media players, we’re all pretty much hooked on them. Most of what we do requires some type of program. It’s just a part of life. The status quo. C’est la vie. So naturally, it makes sense that we also use software for everything at work. And something that goes hand-in-hand with all these technologies is analytics dashboards. They are the starting point of any business’ roadmap for profitability and growth. When it comes to dashboard software, you know that in theory, they are supposed to lead to sound decision making. But which factors should you consider to make sure you’re purchasing the right one? Quick Links What Are Dashboard Platforms? Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Benefits of Dashboard Software 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Are Dashboard Platforms? Dashboards provide snapshots of business intelligence — such as key performance indicators and metrics — all in one centralized location. They are often updated in real time and can be customized to take into account several factors: The subject matter you’re tracking All related information Displayed by relevance Your preferred method of reading data (line graphs, pie charts, etc…) Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Dashboards are important because they allow users to examine the performance of their business at a glance — all on one single screen. They’re also displayed in easy-to-understand ways. Being able to do so can help you: Identify whether you’re on track to hit your targets Identify any anomalies in your processes Identify risks Monitor day-to-day activities Ensure everyone’s on the same page Benefits of Dashboard Software Once you make it a standard business practice to study dashboards, you’ll soon discover many advantages: Easy to Read Effective dashboards are visually appealing and easy to read, regardless of whether you have any experience as a data analyst. This way, you can get to work as soon as you identify any issues instead of spending an eternity trying to figure out what it all means. Transparency Dashboards let you see exactly what’s going on in a particular area of business. Numbers don’t lie, and seeing them right in front of you lets you and your team know whether there are any issues and work on ways to resolve them. Identify Trends By looking at analytics on older dashboards, you can notice historical trends, which you can then compare with the current ones. You can also notice customer hurdles, such as when website visitors tend to leave when they reach a specific page, or a decrease in sales during a specific time of the year. This is crucial to improve on such deficiencies. Business Monitoring You can build a dashboard to monitor process efficiencies, team productivity, inventory, sales, or anything else that’s relevant to your business. Need to hit daily targets? Ensure that a certain number of tasks are completed? Check on your team’s workload capacity? All of this becomes easily identifiable with the right dashboard. Optimize Performance Once you’ve identified what’s not working, you’ll know exactly how to move forward to fix it. Even if you have to do A/B testing on your marketing campaigns, hire more people, or ramp up your cybersecurity, these trial-and-error actions are still pushing you towards finding something that works. 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Ok. So dashboard software is extremely useful. But they’re not all created equal. When deciding on which one to purchase, consider the following factors: 1. Integrations Nothing in any business works in silos, so the ability to integrate with other tools you currently use is essential in finding the right one. BrightGauge dashboards integrate with 40+ tools that you're already using. We are also part of the ConnectWise family, and BrightGauge integrates with some of its most popular tools used by managed service providers (MSPs), such as Manage, Automate, and Sell. 2. Understands Human Cognition There’s only so much data the brain can process at once — and it does so most effectively with images. While this is why dashboards are the most effective way of communicating data, you still want to ensure you have visuals with a simple structure. At the end of the day, most people have the capacity to remember 5-9 things at the same time. 3. Customization Not everyone reads data the same way. You want software that allows you to choose how to view information. For example, clients may prefer various visualization formats, like graphs, charts, and boards. You also want features that allow you to adjust sizes, fonts, colors, and styles, and provide the option to deliver content in a way that matches a user’s job role. This way, each person can only access the data that is most relevant to their responsibilities. 4. Collaboration Some dashboards limit the number of users who can access it — or the number of people who can work on it simultaneously. Depending on your specific needs, you’ll want to verify whether a software enables multiple departments to work together, or if you’ll have the ability to share the data with external users 5. User Experience User experience (UX) is crucial with any type of software. Your dashboards should be easy to navigate and offer clear data visualization. Another important feature to look for is the ability to choose to show only the most relevant data points specific to different end users. And finally, you want a dashboard that explains what data means — whether by labeling or verbal descriptions. 6. Automated Refreshing If you’re creating operational dashboards or displaying any other information that’s time-sensitive, you want to see information displayed in real time or in near real time. This is where automated or scheduled refreshing can help streamline your reporting – no more manual updates and long waiting periods to collect your data. Simply set a schedule to refresh your dashboard at specific intervals. For example, if you have a weekly sales meeting every Friday afternoon, schedule automated refreshing for Friday mornings. 7. Automated Reports Sometimes, you have to wait a long time before you’re able to compile all of your data and start looking for trends. This is tedious and extremely time-consuming. Therefore, you want to look for software that automatically gauges daily, weekly, or monthly pictures of your metrics; then lay them side by side. This allows you to identify noteworthy patterns much sooner. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
Clients are the bloodline of your business. You exist because of them. Your team works because of them. You set quarterly goals because of them. However, this doesn’t mean that they fully know everything that goes on behind the scenes at your company. And, while they may not need to know everything, they do need to know what’s going on with their account. This is where client facing dashboards come in really handy. So sit back and read about best practices for these types of dashboards, ‘cause it’ll make the process a lot easier for everyone involved. Quick Links What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Dashboard Design Best Practices (+Examples) 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? As the name states, a client facing dashboard is an online document with business intelligence in which you add your B2B client as a viewer. They can then create an account with their own login credentials. However, they will only have access to see the information that’s displayed. They typically don’t have any additional permissions. Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Client facing dashboards are important because communication is crucial to build long-lasting relationships with your clients. Not only do they foster transparency, they also showcase elements of your work that they may not have been familiar with — yet are necessary for them to conduct their business. Specific examples of what you can use these dashboards for include: Marketing campaign performance Project timelines Cybersecurity trends and risks Depending on the purpose of the dashboard, they may also make it a lot easier for your team to handle their workload, since customers would be able to log in to check data instead of having to regularly call in. This is the kind of interaction that provides tangible value and turns existing clients into repeat customers. Dashboard Design Best Practices (+ Examples) Ok. So client dashboards aren’t really the eighth world wonder — but they can be if you are mindful of industry best practices. 1. Keep It Simple The single biggest piece of advice that we give to clients when setting up their BrightGauge dashboard is to keep it simple. While it might be tempting to load every important metric into a dashboard, it is best to focus on only the most essential information. We advocate for a 5-second snapshot rule. At a glance, your BrightGauge dashboard should let you know where attention is needed in 5-seconds or less. By placing only the most important and relevant gauges on one dashboard, you’ll quickly have a better understanding of where you stand. However, keeping it simple doesn’t mean you need access to less data. There are likely many data points that you need to analyze to gain a complete picture. When you need more data, you can use the rotate feature to view additional gauges that are relevant to your dashboard. Remember, you are never limited to a single dashboard, so try to group metrics with each other based on relevance. 2. Keep the Viewer in Mind When deciding which gauges to include on your dashboard, consider who will be using the dashboard most often. What role does this dashboard viewer cover? What metrics will they need to do their job? Which metrics won’t be needed so often? Work directly with your teams to determine which metrics they access most in their daily work, and include those gauges on your main dashboard for that specific role. As for deciding the number of gauges to include on a dashboard, we recommend choosing seven. Why seven specifically? We call all the way back to a study from the 1950s that showed that seven objects was the average capacity for the brain's working memory. Providing more metrics might provide more information initially, but will they retain that information? Don’t overwhelm your teams with a page full of numbers. Instead, focus on keeping relevant information together and try not to exceed seven gauges on any single dashboard. 3. Choose the Right Gauge At BrightGauge, we know each of our users are unique, with different likes and preferred styles. For that reason, we offer several different gauges (e.g. charts or diagrams) to choose from. The gauge style that you choose should be influenced by the metric that the gauge will be displaying. Remember that certain gauge styles lend themselves well to certain types of metrics. For example, here's a look at the same Server Patch Status data, but shown as a pie chart, bar chart, and a table: Choosing the wrong display style can misrepresent the data in the eyes of the viewer. Consider what you want to learn from each specific metric. For instance, a pie chart wouldn’t be a wise choice for comparing daily support ticket metrics among dozens of service reps as it would be jumbled and difficult to read. Selecting the right gauge type is important for interpreting and analyzing data, but if you pick a style now and decide to change it later, you can easily update your choice with a couple of clicks. 4. Design Logically The English language and most other modern languages read from left to right. Most of us have been reading from left to right since we started elementary school. Our brains are wired to seek out information in that way. You can see this concept reflected in eye-tracking studies, where “F” patterns seem to dominate digital reading patterns. Most people will read through digital information the same way that they would a book — from left to right, all the way down the page. So, design your dashboard with these things in mind. Put the metric that you would like to read first at the top, left-hand side of your dashboard. Place other metrics in order of importance from left to right, moving down the page. 5. Review Regularly The beauty of a BrightGauge dashboard is that nothing is ever set in stone. You can change the layout of any dashboard at any time. Are you finding that you are not paying much attention to a specific gauge? Remove it and replace it with a more useful one. Have your metrics priorities changed? Shuffle your gauges around to reflect your most important metrics. Every few months, you should re-evaluate your current gauge layout and determine if it’s in line with your priorities. Don’t be afraid to try out new things! If you find that a decision isn’t working for you, you can always revert to your previous design. 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards So now that we’ve gone over some examples, there are a few other things you want to take into account when creating client facing dashboards: 1. Your Audience Who’s reviewing the dashboards? Because they will look very different if you’re preparing them for a data analyst or for a stakeholder. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and understand the information; and only go into details if their job role requires them to be aware of additional information. 2. Customization Always ask your clients about their preferences. What do they want to see first? What type of chart or graph makes it easier for them to understand data? What’s their preferred layout? Do they want specific colors in the dashboard legends? The customer is the star. Build the dashboard around them. 3. Interactive Elements While static reporting can be useful, interactive features can be more efficient, since they can allow users to do actions such as filter, compare, link data from spreadsheets, and see real-time updates. This makes it a lot easier for customers to fully visualize data within context. It also saves them the time it would take to update everything manually. 4. Which KPIs to Track Include the most critical data points to achieve your client’s goals. This will vary depending on the type of dashboard you’re creating. For example, if your customer wants to track their sales cycles, KPIs to include may be the number of leads in the pipeline, cycle length, customer acquisition costs, and revenue. Don’t go too crazy throwing in everything and the sink. You can always create additional dashboards if the main subject branches too much. 5. Integrations Every single one of your customers is already using different softwares to help them run their business. Use dashboards that integrate well with the tools they’re already using. Let’s take this moment to point out that BrightGauge dashboards integrate with over 40 software platforms and it’s part of the ConnectWise ecosystem. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
This month, we are teaming up once again with Kevin Nincehelser, the Chief Operating Officer at Premier One. Back in August, Kevin shared the MSP Overview Dashboard he uses to share high-level KPIs and data with his executive team. Now, we are sharing the Financial Overview dashboard inspired by the August User Showcase Webinar: Building Key Financial Metrics that Impact your Bottom Line. This dashboard is intended for the executive-level team. It highlights net and gross profit tracking, MRR, P&L Performance, and a 'turning point' gauge that shows when they've hit their breaking even point for the year. Financial Overview Dashboard - view here The Financial Overview Dashboard helps the executive team make data-driven decisions around: Staffing Cash-in-hand at any given time Gauging where income and expenses are coming from Understanding which business lines are most profitable Where investments should be made Shifting focus to areas that will improve the business The Premier One team also uses BrightGauge progress gauges to set and track goals and targets throughout the year. Kevin is co-host of the Tech Exec podcast, where he shares business insights and guidance for leaders in the technology space. We're always happy to hear what he has to say! If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for your team, check out the links below: Financial Overview Dashboard (public view link) Financial Overview Dashboard Buildout Key Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
There are many components to building a successful business. You need funding, cash flow, talent, and a target market that’s willing and able to jump onboard. However, in addition to these traditional factors, businesses today should also be tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). You know that. We know that. Everyone knows that. In theory. But in practice, the process can be confusing and overwhelming. Every industry is different, so what works for one may not be as relevant to another. Specifically for managed IT services, one of the main focuses should be on ticket resolution. Yet, with so many services within that umbrella term, the concept needs to be defined more clearly. This has become even more pressing as workplaces evolve — digitization, collaboration, and remote work spaces have all had a significant impact on how work gets done. And it is within this context that you should prioritize your KPIs. Quick Links What Are Traditional KPIs? What Are KPIs Within Managed IT Services? Why the KPIs You Track Might Change How To Measure KPIs in a More Efficient Way Managed Service Provider KPIs You Should Monitor Additional MSP Metrics to Track Manage Your KPIs With BrightGauge's Data Dashboards What Are Traditional KPIs? You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And if you want your business to succeed, you need to find a way to track the progress of your operations. This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come in. Traditional KPIs include items such as customer acquisition costs, revenue per client, customer lifetime value (CLV), and client retention. You then take this information to make informed decisions regarding all of your business strategies. If your numbers are satisfactory, you know that what you’re currently doing is working. If they are lower than you would like, you need to reassess your processes — which could be sales, marketing, or customer service, to name a few. What Are KPIs Within Managed IT Services? Within the managed information technology industry, it’s even more important to stay ahead of the curve with innovation. Tracking the right KPIs will help you run your operations more efficiently by providing you with valuable insights. Yet, it is entirely possible to write an entire volume as thick as a Leo Tolstoy novel with potential metrics, so knowing which ones to include on our dashboard right now is the first step to moving your MSPs in the right direction. Why the KPIs You Track Might Change There are many components that make a business successful. While it’s good to track the progress of every department, it’s not practical to track everything at the same time. For example, when you first open your business (or when you do a rebrand), you want to know how many new customers are coming in. So you focus all your efforts on lead generation, scheduled sales calls, and conversions. However, if you already have a healthy sales pipeline, you may want to shift focus to retaining existing clients. After all, customer satisfaction breeds brand loyalty and a higher number of referrals. It’s also less expensive to retain existing customers than to gain new ones. So while you still want your sales team to continue doing what they’re doing, customer experience KPIs become your priority. By the same token, maybe you’re doing well in both new sales and client retention, but you are wondering whether it’s time to expand your team. Within this context, you’ll then want to track their performance to see whether they have the capacity to accommodate new business, or if it’s time to hire additional staff. You’ll also want to revisit KPIs if you’re suddenly offering new services or ways for customers to communicate with you. If you used to only offer customer service by phone and now provide email and live chat support, you want to see how these new resources are performing to determine whether they are worth the investment. Context is everything, and the KPIs you should prioritize will depend on what’s going on in your business. How to Measure KPIs in a More Efficient Way While everyone can agree that tracking key performance indicators is essential, it’s also a well-known truth that the process can be time consuming and tedious. Since there are so many metrics to track, and so many tools to do so, many workers are familiar with having to work long hours extracting information from multiple sources and manually entering them into a centralized location. Fortunately, it’s the 21st century, so you have solutions for that. With the right platform, you’ll be able to integrate all your existing tools and keep all of your data in one place. This includes information sourced from PSA, RMM, financial, and other software. Some of them make the process as easy as possible for you by including features such as: Templates Unlimited dashboards and reports Unlimited viewer licenses Performance alerts Automatically capturing preset numbers for easier recordkeeping and comparisons In addition to internal dashboards, you can also create public ones so that you can show to prospective customers/partners your ticket response times, customer satisfaction score (CSAT), or any other metric that can assist with sales. Managed Service Provider KPIs You Should Monitor First and foremost, you want analytics that will maximize your profits. At the end of the day, that’s the reason you’re in business (Yeah, yeah, you also love to help people, but in order to do so, you need a sustainable business model). When customizing your dashboard, keep in mind the following metrics: 1. SLA Response Times This is extremely helpful not only to provide optimized customer service, but to also determine whether you can regularly deliver on your promises. This should always be a priority, as it affects your business’ reputation. In addition, depending on the terms of your service level agreements, your company may have to reimburse partners for services not provided — which affects your profitability. 2. Average Response Time As you’ll see from most of the items on this list, a common denominator for many KPIs is providing optimal customer service. Tracking how fast your technicians respond to a problem can help you identify trends — such as repeated calls regarding a particular issue — so that you can better train your technicians to resolve them faster. 3. First Contact Resolution Rates If you want happy customers, you need to resolve their issues as fast and efficiently as possible. If you start noticing that your first contact resolution rate is low, it’s time to provide your team with additional training and resources. You should also prioritize establishing — or expanding — an easily accessible knowledge base for your technicians. 4. Outstanding Tickets Finding out that you have a high volume of outstanding tickets month after month could be an indication that you need to automate some services, hire more technicians, or establish more efficient processes. 5 Cost Per Ticket You can determine the cost per ticket by adding up the number of tickets per month, then dividing them by the costs of running the service team (overhead, software, salaries, and any other relevant cost). 6. Reopened Tickets Ideally, you’ll want each ticket to be resolved and closed for good — and so do your customers. A good way to gauge your team’s performance is to track the number of reopened tickets per employee. If one or two of them are repeat offenders, it’s time to speak with them to determine the root cause. But if you see it occurring regularly across the board, it’s time to invest in additional training and certifications. 7. Contract Renewal Rates If a significant number of your partners are renewing MSP contracts, it means that (a) you’re doing customer service right, and (b) you’ll have to invest less on acquiring new customers (since the cost of retaining existing ones is lower). To calculate your contract renewal rate, add up the number of contracts that were up for renewal and divide them by the number of actual renewals. 8. Projects Resolved Within Budget Every project requires expenses. You take into account the actual costs, plus a little bit extra for a margin of error. You should then track how they are resolved to determine if they are within your established targets. Finding out that they regularly require going over budget is an indication that you have to address underlying problems, such as requiring updated software, automating tasks, or additional training for your techs. 9. Employee Turnover Rate This is a big one. Happy employees rarely leave their place of employment. And while someone who genuinely dislikes being an MSP technician is better off walking out the door, you do want to ensure you are incentivizing your team to stay and grow within your company. This is crucial, given that talent in the IT field can be hard to find, and that you incur additional costs every time you have to hire someone new. 10. Technicians’ Performance Tracking each team member’s performance requires more than one metric. However, this can be easily accomplished by setting up individual technician dashboards. By doing so, you’ll see areas that may need additional attention — such as those with a higher volume thanks to the increasing remote workforce, such as cloud-based services and securing networks. Additional MSP Metrics to Track The KPIs listed above are a starting point to ensure you are providing the best possible managed IT services. However, there may be additional metrics that are relevant to what’s most important to achieve your own specific business goals. This often entails keeping track of financial analytics, including: Service gross margins Customers lifetime value EBITDA margins Cash flow Accounts receivable Overhead costs Labor costs Profits Manage Your KPIs With BrightGauge’s Data Dashboards With a variety of pre-built dashboard templates and a fully customizable system with filters for your departments, BrightGauge’s dashboard solutions can help you stay on track, adjust when needed, and meet your goals, short and long term. You can use existing dashboards or build your own, depending on your needs, and our team is ready to assist.
One of the most important things to think about when embarking in a career is: what are your goals? After all, these will always serve as a compass to move towards something better. There’s no joy in showing up to work just for a paycheck. While compensation is certainly necessary, most people need more than that to keep them showing up long-term. So what can you do to help your employees set and track individual goals? Do personal and professional goals ever overlap? And what’s the best way to keep tabs on their progress on their way to achieving them? Quick Links: What is Goal Setting? Why Does Goal Setting Matter? What is the Difference Between Personal Goals and Professional Goals? How Do Personal and Professional Goals Overlap? How To Help Your Team Set Goals How To Help Your Team Track Goals Achieve Your Goals Faster with BrightGauge's Data Dashboards What Is Goal Setting? Goal setting is a way to take an abstract concept and create a blueprint for an action plan. It’s a way to motivate and guide a person to deliberately work towards something. But not all goal setting is created equal. Even within this process, there are different types of goal setting: 1. Outcome Goals This is the big kahuna of goals; the end point of what you wish to accomplish. For example, signing up for a marathon means that you’re going to run 26.2 miles. So crossing that finish line is the outcome. Maybe you want to go even more hardcore and say that you’re going to run it in less than four hours. But you can’t just show up and run it. Although this is the end goal, there are steps involved to getting there, which brings us to performance and process goals. 2. Performance Goals To achieve the outcome goal, you will have to break it down into measurable steps. For example, first train for a 5K, then for a 10K, then for a half marathon. You may either choose to simply cross each of them off the list, or set time goals for them. Either way, as you accomplish them, each performance builds upon the previous one. As you do so, you keep riding the wave of momentum towards the next marker, until you’re ready to tackle that marathon. 3. Process Goals Process goals give you even more details of the path to follow. This is done by establishing the processes to get to the performance goals, and then to the outcome goals. For example, this could include running x number of miles a day, alternated between strength training days. Maybe hire a coach. Get informed on optimal nutrition. These processes give you something tangible to focus on every single day you show up to train. As you can see, setting goals provides motivation, while establishing processes and milestones helps you keep your eye on the prize. It’s also important to set up what are known as SMART goals. The acronym stands for: Specific In order to have something to move forward to, you need to define what it is that you wish to accomplish. It’s not the same thing to say: “I want the company to make more money,” than to say “I want to increase profits by 30% by the end of the year.” Measurable Once you have a goal set in place, you want to establish parameters to track your progress. Going back to the 30% increase in revenue, you can split it into how much more you should be making each quarter, which can be further broken down into how many more clients you are signing up every month. Attainable You have to be realistic about your goals. If you have been increasing your annual sales gradually and the trends show 30% to be a realistic number, go for it. But if the trends reflect 30% to be achievable, don’t try to raise the stakes by declaring that you want to double your sales. That will only set you up for disappointment. Relevant If you want to get more clients — or more upsell/cross sell opportunities — it behooves you to invest time and resources into accomplishing that. Now is not the time to look for a bigger office location, focus your energies on your influencer side gig, or organize your days around something that has nothing to do with your main goal of increasing sales by 30%. Time-Bound Always give yourself a deadline. Otherwise, it becomes way too easy to keep pushing things back to accommodate procrastination. Establishing a specific date by which to accomplish your goals also lets you organize the smaller steps accordingly and keep your team motivated. Why Does Goal Setting Matter? No matter the job setting, it’s crucial for employees to feel like what they’re doing actually matters. It’s good to know that all of their efforts are contributing to the employer’s goals — whether they’re weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Knowing that they’re helping move the needle forward gives them a sense of purpose. In a more micro sense, the benefits of setting goals at work include: Knowing where to place one’s focus and what to prioritize Having a roadmap from which to track progress Gaining momentum as individual tasks are completed Experiencing a sense of accomplishment with every milestone met Providing additional motivation Providing a means to keep everyone on the team accountable What Is the Difference Between Personal Goals and Professional Goals? Professional goals have to do with your career. They include both short and long term objectives. And while it may be tempting to think that it all relates to what makes you the most money, in reality, compensation is one of many factors that come into play to make a person feel accomplished — health benefits, 401(k), stock options, room for upward mobility, skills learned, continuing education, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, sick leave, paid parental leave, etc. Personal goals involve what you wish to accomplish within your lifestyle: Sleep more, register for a CrossFit competition, read more books, spend more time with family, finally write that novel, and learn how to cook a gourmet five course meal. In other words, this is what’s often seen as the fun stuff. While it may seem obvious at first glance (e.g. having a healthier lifestyle vs. making 30% extra in profits), the line between personal and professional goals often go hand in hand. How Do Personal and Professional Goals Overlap? Personal and professional goals have different labels because they each refer to different aspects of your life. But the common denominator is that it’s your life. Therefore, it’s only natural that they overlap. Professional Goals Even if you’re the type of person who likes to keep your personal and professional life separate, the reality is that most people spend the majority of their life at work. Even if you work from home, you have work responsibilities that require your attention for most of the day. And whether your professional goal is to work towards an advanced degree, a promotion, or a specific career path, your definition of success will definitely have a significant impact on your personal goals. Personal Goals Ok. So what are those personal goals? Maybe you want to change your body composition by developing muscles. Maybe you want to purchase a home in a specific part of town you love. Maybe you want to travel the world, eat healthier, or meditate more often. While all of these things are done outside of work, they are greatly influenced by what you can accomplish at work — your salary, your time off, your actual ability to take that time off, reasonable working hours, etc. They are often put on the back burner, since they usually don’t carry the urgency of professional goals. Therefore, both professional and personal goals, in the end, are personal goals. You are trying to reach an objective that you believe will help you in becoming happier. How To Help Your Team Set Goals While the entire team can present their ideas on how to accomplish goals, it’s up to leadership to establish the roadmap. Break Down Major Goals Into Manageable Steps Going back to the marathon example, big goals can feel overwhelming. To better manage big goals, you want to establish short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Use software to assign daily tasks, so that the business objectives aren’t just some abstract concept. As employees cross each thing off the list, they’ll get a sense of accomplishment. Put It in Writing Verbal communications can be miscommunicated, recalled incompletely, or forgotten. By putting your goals in writing, you’re giving employees a point of reference. Define them clearly. Include what the specific goals are, how you’re breaking them up into manageable steps, what are the resources and tools available to accomplish them, and how to track progress. Include processes for every step of the way. Creating this knowledge base gives your team the peace of mind that comes from being able to easily reference a document for clarification. Provide Adequate Training In order to reach a destination, everyone must be rowing in the same direction. And to get everyone to do so, you must first show them how to do it — how to handle situations at work (bottlenecks, conflicts, common customer concerns) and how to complete tasks (do you want them to do it a particular way, or can they work at their discretion?) This also lets them know what your expectations are, which will make it a lot easier for them to meet them. Ask for Feedback Your team is on the front lines. They know what’s working and what’s not. They know whether a particular software helps them do their jobs effectively, or whether they need something better. Keep an open door policy and let your team know that you’re always willing to listen to what they have to contribute to improve processes. Also, take the initiative to ask them directly — during one-on-one meetings and/or through anonymous surveys. Measure Progress The only way to know if what you’re doing is working is to compare where you are today versus where you were a few weeks ago. Are you inching your way towards your goal? If so, keep at it. If not, it’s time to reassess and develop new strategies. For accurate measuring, always look at the numbers: projects started, projects completed, new prospects, new signed customers, etc. Praise Success Praising success lets your team know that you’re aware of their efforts and accomplishments. This makes them feel seen and valued. In turn, they are more motivated to continue working to accomplish the collective business goals. How To Help Your Team Track Goals Everyone on your team should be tracking goals. And to do so, you need adequate tools. One of the most effective ways to do this is to set up a dashboard with the numbers that matter to you. Depending on your specific goals, this can include: Number of website visitors Number of people filling out forms in landing pages Number of prospects scheduling sales calls Bounce rates on webpages Tasks completed daily Sales, upsells, and cross sells Achieve Your Goals Faster With BrightGauge’s Data Dashboards With a variety of pre-built dashboard templates and a fully customizable system with filters for your departments, BrightGauge’s dashboard solutions can help you stay on track, adjust when needed, and meet your goals, short and long term. You can use existing dashboards or build your own, depending on your needs, and our team is ready to assist.