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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 ...
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 with any questions!

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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!

70+ Metrics for MSPs

Key metrics and accompanying formulas to help MSPs skyrocket growth and success!

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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!

Report of the Month: Client Heartbeat

This report was created based on the Client Heartbeat Report and other KPIs shared by James Oberhaus of CPI Solutions in our May 2021 User Showcase Webinar: Tracking Key Activities + Custom Dropbox Data. What it shows A review of team performance and client feedback. The top portion of the report is meant to drive discussion based on survey responses and a review of the three questions asked of their customers each month (or at your own cadence): Response - How satisfied are you with the speed & efficiency at which we are able to respond to your requests? Communication - How satisfied are you with the level of communication during the support process? Detail - How satisfied are you with our attention to detail? Other KPIs of note: One Touch Resolution % High Priority Ticket Count Average Time to Resolution Stale Ticket Count Breached Open Tickets and more ticket trends to track long tail changes Client Heartbeat Report - view here When is it useful The CPI Solutions team chooses to review this around the 15th of every month. A regular cadence is great for keeping on top of any changes in service and sentiment. Check out the full webinar, Tracking Key Activities + Custom Dropbox Data, for some additional great tips on how to customize some of the data you work with to see more granular details. If you want to recreate and customize this report for yourself, check out the links below: Client Heartbeat Report (public view link) Client Heartbeat Report Buildout Key Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to with any questions!

Benefits of Dashboard Reporting for Remote Team Engagement

As we move through 2021, as vaccination numbers rise, as businesses return to capacity, as concerts return, it’s inevitable that we will revisit the discussion regarding remote work. Many businesses are in the throes of determining when, and whether, employees will be returning to the office full time. However, research suggests that 25-30% of the workforce will remain, on at least some days, remote. Given that statistic, it’s only natural that businesses begin to explore the best ways to maintain the productivity, collaboration, and engagement given the new remote landscape. In fact, employers assert that one of the primary reasons for in-office interactions is to maintain corporate culture and employee engagement. Given that priority and the demand for remote work situations, it’s clear that employers will need the right tools, like dashboards, to help them maintain the successes we’ve seen over the last year. Quick Links What is employee engagement? Why is employee engagement important? Why remote teams struggle with engagement What is dashboard reporting? The benefits of dashboard reporting for remote teams Keep your workforce aligned with BrightGauge's Dashboards What is employee engagement? Employee engagement gauges, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the experience of employees with the organization where they work. Further, it’s important to distinguish between employee satisfaction/happiness and employee engagement as the two are not the same thing. More specifically, an employee can be satisfied with their job, but still not feel connected to the work they’re doing or the organization. Employee engagement really looks at the emotional and psychological connection to a workplace. That connection then translates to an employee’s willingness to put in significant effort to achieving overall business goals (beyond individual goals). Why is employee engagement important? While many businesses focus on employee satisfaction and engagement is certainly impacted by happiness, engagement is a far better indicator of employee and organizational health than satisfaction for a variety of reasons. In fact, employee engagement can do the following: 1. Improve productivity Especially when we’re looking at remote work where productivity has been a concern, one way to keep employees productive is to keep them engaged. Engaged employees want to do the work and that drives them to work harder, look for more efficient ways to complete tasks, collaborate more, and search for solutions to business obstacles or friction points. More specifically, engaged employees are 17% more productive. Further, increased productivity then drives your bottom line. In fact, businesses with engaged employees are 22% more profitable. 2. Reduce employee churn Training new employees takes time and money. Sometimes, it can delay or postpone client work and, overall, reduces how effective your business can be in delivering the goods or services you provide. However, engaged employees are far less likely to leave. Specifically, companies with highly engaged employees are able to reduce employee turnover by as much as 31%. 3. Reduce absenteeism In addition to keeping employees from leaving permanently, highly engaged employees are also more likely to show up daily. Research shows that simply engaging employees may result in a 41% reduction in absenteeism. 4. Improve bottom line It’s not just hiring and training costs. Low employee engagement can create productivity slowdowns and low morale which impacts U.S. business to the tune of $450-550 billion a year. In short, keeping employees engaged is a smart financial move. 5. Improved morale You’ve likely seen it before, and we’re hinting at it above, engaged employees who are excited about their workplace and are invested in business goals are more likely to be energized. In turn, this impacts the teams and employees around them. We’ve all likely worked with someone who’s “checked out” and that person tends to drag a team down. Engaged employees are cheerleaders and help motivate others around them. Despite its importance, Gallup research suggests that nearly 51% of employees are not engaged at work. Considering the importance and what appears to be a failure to make strides in employee engagement, how can businesses, working remotely, improve employee engagement? Why remote teams struggle with engagement It’s really pretty simple. Employee engagement is about connection and connection is fostered in a variety of ways, but, according to Gallup, one of the most important factors is the relationships we form at work. As one can imagine, remote work has had a significant impact on our ability to build and maintain work relationships. One of the biggest impacts has been on the informal interactions we have with our co-workers. Research suggests that these informal moments, passing in the hall, gathering at someone’s desk briefly, grabbing coffee together, etc., are the foundation for many of the stronger relationships we build at work. Further, face-to-face communications are still a stronger way to communicate and for us to understand one another through expressions and body language. Many of us have been party to a misunderstanding through electronic communication and these small miscommunications can have a larger impact on our relationships. However, other research suggests that some of the stronger relationships created at work have been reinforced by remote work as “work friends” actually make an effort to stay connected. And, it’s important to note, that there is quite a bit that can be done to improve engagement in a remote work environment and that largely has to do with team leaders and management ensuring that teams stay connected, communicative, and collaborative. That means leveraging every tool available to them, such as dashboards which can keep teams connected to their cooperative goals and objectives. What is dashboard reporting? Dashboard reporting is a technology tool that allows team leads to collect data from various sources and place it into a single, easy-to-review report or data dashboard. The dashboard reporting tool typically has some built-in integrations with other data collection solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, website analytics tools, employee productivity monitoring tools, and the like. Dashboard reporting tools pull data from the integrated software to display it on a data dashboard or report—which is often accessible online. The benefits of dashboard reporting for remote teams So, how can data dashboard reporting tools help remote workers collaborate more effectively and stay aligned with their business’ goals? Here are a few of the ways that using data dashboards with remote teams can help: It puts all of your analytics in an easy-to-manage location. One of the big challenges of remote work is being able to track the performance of employees in real time. A data dashboard tool allows companies to monitor employee performance metrics and see where employees are doing well and where they’re struggling. Public dashboards can encourage competition. When multiple employees can see a “leaderboard” of who is ranking high for specific metrics, it can help to keep them informed and encourage some competitiveness. This drives results by keeping employees motivated to beat their peers. It can keep management alerted to major performance issues. With the ability to set custom alerts, team leaders can program thresholds for certain performance metrics that, if exceeded, will generate an alert. This allows team leaders to make course corrections with employees in real time, even when everyone is working remotely. You can set goals for both individual and team performance. One of the issues with having remote employees is that it can be hard to keep them aligned with the company’s primary goals. With online data dashboards, managers can provide employees with clear success targets they can work towards. Online data dashboards are both a critical performance management tool for team leaders and a motivational tool for employees. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and showing them to employees, dashboard reporting tools help remote workers stay on track with their goals. Keep your workforce aligned with BrightGauge’s dashboards BrightGauge’s data dashboard tool is the perfect solution for keeping employees aligned with your company’s goals, even when they’re working remotely. With BrightGauge, you can: See all of your most important KPIs in one place thanks to our extensive list of integrations; Check on individual team member’s activity and performance with custom gauges and filters; Create leaderboards for employee performance to stimulate healthy competition; Make remote 1:1 meetings more effective with employee-specific data dashboards; Get alerted to critical performance issues with custom alerts; Make data-driven business decisions based on actual performance data from the dashboard; Collate easy-to-interpret monthly reports automatically to share with employees, management, and/or customers as needed. If you're ready to talk about how BrightGauge's business intelligence tools can help your remote team thrive, get in touch with our team today!

How to Set Team Goals (+Examples)

Even if you’re Steph Curry, a 7-time all-star, two-time league MVP, record holder for scoring in your college conference, and single season three-point record holder, you still don’t get to be an NBA champion for 3 seasons (2015, 2017, 2018) without a team. In fact, at one point, Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, also led the league in “secondary assists” which means even with his individual achievements, he knows when to pass the ball and when to rely on his team. While it may not be an NBA championship you're looking to win, we don’t need to draw out the analogy to see the parallels between your business and a professional sports team. It’s likely each individual member of your team has larger career goals as well as goals within your company and goals within their team. However, good managers (or good coaches) can align those goals with larger team goals so that everyone works together to be successful. Quick Links How are team goals different from individual goals? Why are team goals important? How to set team goals 20 examples of team goals to use in your business How BrightGauge's Goals can help you set and track team goals How are team goals different from individual goals? As is clear from the analogy above, individual goals are reflections of an individual’s objectives in relation to their role, whether that’s within their career, business or team. For example, as an individual, my goal may be to convert 3-5 leads over the course of the next few months. While that goal may also contribute to the team or business’s overall goals, the motives behind it may be quite different. What drives an individual to achieve an individual goal may be quite different from what motivates them to participate in team goals. In contrast, team goals are centered around what will make the team, as a whole, successful. While individual goals may contribute, individual goals may also be outside of the realm of team objectives. If we take the example above, it would fit in with team goals if the overall team objective was to, across multiple team members, convert 15-20 leads over the course of the next few months. However, it is wholly possible that a team goal might be to reduce customer churn and, in that case, that individual goal may not align. Why are team goals important? A good number of articles on the internet discuss the reasons why teams might fail, but not many of them look at how we understand and value team goals as one cause. In other words, sometimes we set team goals because we’re expected to, without really understanding the value of the goals themselves (beyond the objective) and the way they can impact your team and their successes, both team and individual. 1. Goals provide focus and direction Setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goals helps your team stay on track. In addition to breaking down a longer-term goal into benchmarks, providing a clear end goal helps your team stay focused on what it is they’re hoping to achieve. In fact, 97% of executives and employees agree that lack of focus or direction is the reason team goals fail. Additionally, that focus improves your productivity, the quality of the work you produce, and can reduce stress. 2. Goals help you identify friction points Let’s be honest. We don’t always achieve goals. However, if we don’t have goals at all, we’ll never know if we’re off track. Further, if you’re missing benchmarks, you can start to identify the friction points. Does the team need more resources? Where can you add more support? With any luck, early identification of obstacles can assist in reaching the larger objective even if a benchmark is missed. 3. Goals are a great way to recognize and celebrate achievements Everyone likes to win. It can be motivating and inspire you to keep going even if a job has been tough. Recognizing teams and individuals can also be crucial to fostering company culture and keeping employees driven and engaged. In fact, 54% of employees said this kind of recognition and group celebration is what kept them at a company. 4. Goals provide meaning to the work Some times, some days, it’s really easy to get bogged down by tasks, by the daily grind of a job. When there’s a pile of paperwork (even if it’s digital), emails to answer, problems to troubleshoot and resolve, and failures or obstacles, it’s easy to forget why you’re doing something. Goals, particularly when they’re clear, established, discussed among the team, can serve as a reminder that the tasks are leading you and your team to a larger goal, a bigger picture. 5. Goals can be motivating and confidence building Who among us hasn’t made a list, put something we’ve already completed on said list, and then crossed it off just to get that feeling of satisfaction and completion? Goals are motivating in the same way. There are few things that energize a team, provide the drive that helps individuals ask “What’s next?” and builds confidence in your team’s ability to achieve and to work together like meeting (or crushing) a goal. How to set team goals When setting goals for ourselves, we’re keenly aware of our overall objectives balanced with our abilities. We can factor in how we respond to challenges, how we respond to stress and deadlines, and how agile we are when goalposts move or unexpected challenges arise. However, when working with a team, it’s just not that straightforward. Not only do you have more moving parts that need to sync up, but several of those other factors can play in, as can interpersonal relationships. Therefore, it’s worth considering a few things when setting team goals. 1. Remember S.M.A.R.T. goals It’s easy to, especially if a team is energized, want to set a lofty goal to start. However, it’s more helpful if you think of it as something akin to a New Year’s Resolution. The resolutions that fail are the ones that lack specificity, aren’t realistic, and then begin with someone biting off more than they can chew. Further, you’ll want to keep them measurable and achievable. Your team will start off on great footing if the first goal you set is small and achievable within the time frame you set. It’s good to set a long-term goal, but focusing in on smaller goals that will lead you there will lead to success. 2. Communicate and align This seems pretty obvious but, quite often, poor communication or miscommunications are the reasons objectives are not achieved (in addition to other impacts on a business). For some teams this may mean weekly sync ups, emails, reporting, or using a dashboard tool to keep everyone aligned. In fact, research supports the concept that tracking and monitoring progress is a vital part of achieving goals. When there’s a team involved, effective communication among the team means that everyone is able to monitor progress and reap the benefits of tracking. 3. Build in incentives and praise As mentioned above, goal setting is an excellent way to recognize and celebrate achievements which, in turn, motivates people. In fact, even deciding on what those incentives may be is a great team building tool. Further, research suggests that praise, when deserved rather than being empty words, has significant power to motivate people and realign them with the goals, the team, and the organization. 4. Goal set as a team We hinted at it above, but one of the best ways to ensure your team is successful is through team building activities. These activities improve relationships, and communication, help define roles and responsibilities, and clarify tasks and expectations. Additionally, setting goals as a team allows everyone to feel a part of the process and encourages buy-in which can be vital to focus, direction, motivation, and success. 5. Build in individual goals If buy-in is important, one of the best ways to achieve that is to find ways to align an individual’s goals with the team’s. The added benefit here is that it forces a conversation with individuals about what their goals might be for career growth, especially within your organization. From there, you can work together to find ways to create individual goals that will help achieve team and business goals as well. 6. Be agile Many business landscapes are constantly evolving, whether that’s within your organization or within your industry. As such, some goals may become unattainable or obstacles to success may be beyond your control. It’s important, for that reason, to remain agile and adaptable and discuss this with your team. It’s important to establish that some goals may be missed and that’s okay as the work to get there is still valuable. If you’ve started with small achievable goals, a missed goal will not be confidence or motivation shattering. 20 examples of team goals to use in your business Obviously, your team goals will depend upon your teams, their roles within your organization, overall business goals, and current initiatives or changes within your business. Further, it’s important to keep in mind that these are collective goals and achievable only as a team, though individuals can find personal goals to weave in. Sales Team Goals Increase customer lifetime value through product or service upsells Increase MRR by a set percentage Reduce customer/client churn Increase the number of qualified leads month-to-month Service Team Goals Reduce response time Increase opportunities for customer/client feedback Decrease onboarding time Decrease trouble resolution time Leadership Team Goals Improve utilization rate Initiate employee incentive program Improve employee engagement through activities or events Improve communication around larger business objectives Operations Team Goals Initiate new tech/application training program Institute or audit file storage conventions Evaluate workflows with goal of decreasing time for deliverables Identify performance gaps and establish policies/procedures to address them HR Team Goals Track and/or establish team training Identify causes for employee churn and work to reduce Initiate employee health/exercise program Create recruitment pipeline opportunities/outreach How BrightGauge's Goals can help you set and track team goals We’ve established that goals are crucial and their benefits enormous. We’ve looked at steps to set them and ideas to implement. We’ve asserted that monitoring the goal is just as important as setting. Now we move on to the coaching role. While Curry and his teammates certainly have the talent and the skills to achieve and win, there’s also a coach who’s providing insights, tools, and oversight. Your team leaders are no different. They need the tools to communicate, to provide progress reports, to track successes and slow downs, and to adjust the “playbook” according to all that data. That’s where BrightGauge comes in. With a variety of customizable tools designed to help you set goals; gather all your important data in one place; provide clear, complete, and actionable visualizations of relevant metrics; facilitate reporting and keep teams, both large and small, aligned and connected; BrightGauge’s solution is designed to help your team succeed, regardless of the goal. If you’re ready to lead your team to success, get in touch with our team today. We’re ready to help you meet your goals.

5 Benefits of Business Intelligence Tools

In 1967’s The Graduate, McGuire pulls Benjamin aside and offers one word of advice, “Plastics.” Even considering the symbolic meaning of the advice, were the same film made in 2021, the one word would, without a doubt, be “data.” More than most people know, data, and big data, has a huge impact on everything we do from our daily lives to our businesses. Often, the ability to leverage the data collected, to analyze it effectively and turn it into business strategies and successes, is the difference between winning and losing in a competitive marketplace. Therefore, the applications we use to gather, report, and analyze that data are the essential tools of the workplace. Quick Links What is business intelligence & why is it important? What are business intelligence tools? 5 benefits of using business intelligence tools What is business intelligence and why is it important? In short, business intelligence is the collection, reporting, presentation, and analysis of data from various sources (software, applications, services) that informs a business. The end goal is strategic and data-driven decisions. How a business makes decisions is fundamental to its success. Data driven decision making allows an organization to view data as it comes in, compare it to historical and market data as well as other data sources, and make decisions that can: Identify friction points for customers, clients, or team members Prepare for and predict historical market fluctuations Assess market competition Track employee performance Monitor SLA benchmarks Improve processes and operations Identify potential revenue streams or opportunities What are business intelligence tools? If business intelligence is the data collected, reported, presented, or analyzed, business intelligence tools are the method by which those actions happen. This includes the applications, software, and services that provide and present the aggregated data in a structured and useful way. There are a variety of ways these tools present the data including: Dashboards Gauges Visualizations (like maps) Reporting Data Mining OLAP (online analytical processing) ETL (extract-transfer-load) Of these tools, dashboards and visualizations are the most popular and most easily used. As we are visual creatures, these tools are most popular as they provide the data quickly (literally at a glance) and allow users to leverage other visual tools (like design and layout) to facilitate fast identification of needed data. In fact, these tools are so important that Business Intelligence Analyst is a career with considerable growth expected in the next few years. Part of the reason for that growth is that many BI tools require statistical and analytical skills as well as programming, coding, and advanced software skills. As a result, some business intelligence tools can be complex and difficult to use without specialized knowledge. In contrast, BrightGauge’s business intelligence solution allow end users to work “out-of-the-box” with pre-built gauges and automated reporting features that make your business intelligence efforts...well..effortless. In fact, BrightGauge's tools require no coding, no SQL knowledge, and can be used by anyone on your team. That kind of versatility means your team is ready to make insightful data-driven decisions, the kind that strategically grow your business, right away. 5 benefits of using business intelligence tools By this point, hopefully it’s clear that there are benefits to using business intelligence tools to help drive tactical and strategic business decisions. But, let’s take a closer look at what those benefits are. 1.Data-driven decisions Having real data on customer, client, or even employee responses to initiatives lets your organization gauge their success, respond in an agile way, and determine whether similar initiatives will help meet business goals. For example, if data suggests that, historically, sales of a particular item increase during a specific month and then wane in another, you can strategically respond to those fluctuations with offers and pricing adjustments to increase sales or revenue. 2. Improved customer experiences By tracking KPIs related to customer satisfaction or success, or for an MSP tracking response time of technicians, your organization can improve customer experiences. This kind of data is also what we see on major e-commerce sites that recommend products and services similar to what we’ve already purchased or been perusing. In that way, the benefits of business intelligence tools can benefit you whether your organization sells a product or a service. 3. Improved employee experiences There’s no big secret to employee satisfaction. Employees want to feel seen, heard, and connected. A great way to do that is to use BrightGauge’s goals tool and share dashboards with employees to allow them to track progress and successes. You can even send automated reports to your team to keep them engaged and interested. There’s a direct correlation between employee engagement and employee satisfaction and business intelligence tools can help you strengthen that connection! 4. Competitive advantage As noted briefly above, one of the best advantages of business intelligence tools is the access to historical and competitor data. Analyzing both of these allows you to prepare for market forecasts, recognize service or product gaps, and present solutions to the market when needed. Similarly, in the case of individual customers or clients, use your business experience to proactively recognize patterns or trends and offer services to your clients before they even know they need it. 5. Improved efficiency on multiple levels Gone are the days of account managers jumping from program to program to gather data to report to a client, a superior, or even their team. Business intelligence tools like BrightGauge’s offer robust reporting capabilities, often with automation, and are a time saving measure for any team member who needs to report. Further, the ability to share dashboards with teams or individuals, means everyone can stay in alignment on goals and objectives. This kind of transparency on teams can drive productivity as all team members can gauge progress and share in the wins. If your team isn’t currently using a business intelligence tool to reap all these amazing advantages, what are you waiting for? Using business intelligence doesn't have to be intimidating. BrightGauge was specifically designed so anybody could use it. Once you get your BrightGauge KPIs and dashboards set up, you'll be on your way to deeper data insights that could truly have a positive impact on your business. Get in touch with the BrightGauge team to talk about how our solution can benefit you.

Understanding the Difference Between KPIs and Metrics

If you remember back to high school geometry, you might recall the axiom that all squares are parallelograms, but not all parallelograms are squares. Why does this matter? Because, essentially, KPIs and metrics have a similar relationship. All KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. While the terms are often tossed about interchangeably, failure to understand KPIs vs. metrics might mean you’re focused on the wrong measurement, creating confusion around your goals and impacting decisions the real data may not support. If you’re hoping to base your business decisions on data, then understanding the difference between KPIs and metrics is vital. Quick Links What are KPIs? What are metrics? KPIs vs metrics: How data driven businesses use both How dashboards can help you track KPIs and Metrics What are KPIs? KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are the metrics by which you gauge business critical initiatives, objectives, or goals. The operative word in the phrase is “key,” meaning they have special or significant meaning. KPIs act as measurable benchmarks against defined goals. For example, if your business goal is to increase sales by 15% over the next two quarters, the KPIs to gauge that may include, but not be limited to: new customer acquisition, customer churn, and upselling success rate. In short, a KPI can be made up of multiple metrics. What are metrics? While KPIs measure progress toward specific goals, metrics are measurements of overall business health. While they may be loosely tied to specific targeted objectives, they are not the most important metrics and may not be good guides as to whether you’re on track. In fact, some of them may be what are referred to as vanity metrics, the ones that just make you feel good, but don’t mean much, such as the number of likes a post gets on social media. However, metrics can still provide valuable data about your business. For example, you might track website visitors as a metric, but unless it’s tied to a specific key business objective, it’s a metric, not a KPI. More on that below! KPIs vs. metrics: How data driven businesses use both Why does all of this matter? You may think because you’re not a data analyst metrics and KPIs don’t matter much. But these days, with the way we work and the data-driven nature of many businesses (particularly because we have so many ways to collect data), it’s a mistake to not use the information we readily have at our disposal. Let’s start with a basic tenet: metrics support KPIs. KPIs may be made up of a variety of different metrics that give you a full picture of you or your team’s progress toward a goal. If we return to the example of website visitors, simply tracking that information isn’t a KPI — it’s a metric. But if we add a little more information to that example, we can see how it could become a KPI. If the business goal is to create 20% more sales qualified leads (SQL) over the next year, original/new website visits alone may not provide you with the data you need. However, understanding how that metric translates into other site interactions, like form completions and downloads, is vital. If analysis has created a correlation between downloads and SQLs, then website visitors and new downloads become KPIs rather than just metrics. Given that example, if new website visitors don’t translate into downloads, if the majority of downloads are coming from an email campaign, then website visits isn’t a KPI; it’s just a metric. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, as visitors might be signing up for your emails via the website, but contacts may come from a wide variety of sources. In short, you will likely still monitor website visits, but it’s not tied directly to an objective as a KPI would be. How dashboards can help you track KPIs and metrics For a data driven business, metrics are essential, whether KPIs or not. It’s how your business plans and prepares for next steps, additional goals, as well as identifying lagging performance. While the difference between KPIs and metrics is objective, there is, essentially, no change in how you should be looking at that data. It’s why dashboards can be such an effective tool for businesses. In fact, BrightGauge’s KPI dashboards empower you to choose the metrics you want to monitor and create customized dashboards. The customization process enables you to check your business’s pulse, at a glance, and share that data with individuals or entire teams, keeping everyone aligned and motivated. Further, use of the snapshot tool to create charts that measure your progress day-to-day or month-to-month allow you and your team to easily identify patterns among your metrics. That means you can proactively address friction points or build on existing successes. Again, instead of moving between multiple programs, multiple screens, and creating complex spreadsheets, BrightGauge’s tools allow you to do it all in one place, saving you time and effort. If you’d like to talk to our team about how our dashboard tools can help you monitor business metrics for your data driven efforts, get in touch with us today!

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