Why you need to get your measures right to get a handle on business performance

ReceivablesSuccessful business intelligence (BI) projects are those that start by defining the business problem they are trying to solve or goal they want to achieve (e.g. we want to increase sales by 10% this fiscal year).

Out of this you will then look at the business questions you need to answer to support your objective (e.g. how are sales performing across different territories?). From this will flow the numbers you need to see to answer these questions (e.g. booked revenue, number of sales, forecast revenue, etc).

Anything you decide to measure should be actionable. When you define actionable measures, this often leads you to track measures that are expressed as ratios or percentages, where it is easier to see any changes (e.g. average order value, return on investment, inventory turns, revenue per head, etc).

When you get your measures right, you will see that they don’t work in isolation. In fact, it is the combination of your measures working together that gives you the big picture view of how well your business or business area is performing.

For example:

Consider an organization with a focus on cash flow. Two of its measures are Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and Average Order Value.

Their target is to keep DSO under 45 days. Any increase in this figure is bad and requires action.

They also want to keep their average order value in the range of $26,500 to $27,500. Any deviation above or below this range requires investigation.

Let’s say DSO creeps up towards 60 days, so they need to take action. However, to guide their action, they first need some additional information.

Have they taken 1-2 large orders, where slow payment has skewed their DSO measure? This could be identified by an increase in their Average Order Value.

In this case the next step may be to pull up a list of outstanding invoices by value ready to escalate to the sales team and have them call the customers in question to ensure prompt payment.

However, if Average Order Value decreased, then this could indicate that they have processed more transactions – perhaps in response to a successful marketing promotion aimed at increasing market share.

In this case, the next step could be to look at the headcount in their accounts receivable team and their productivity per head. The action could be to take on some temporary agency staff to increase capacity in the team and speed up the collection of outstanding payments.

Accounts Receivables Dashboard - created with DecisionPoint

Take a look at this example interactive, Accounts Receivables dashboard (created with DecisionPoint™) which shows one way how this information could be presented to the finance team to track aged debt and keep on top of late payments.

Using “BI on BI” to drive user adoption

Dashboard Usage AuditingThroughout this series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform we’ve seen why it is important that non-programmers are able to create new interactive dashboards and information applications to keep step with the pace of business change. We’ve also seen that to guarantee high adoption rates, business users should be able to pick up and use these dashboards and applications without training.

User adoption is key to a successful business intelligence project. If your goal is to empower people with the information they need to do their jobs, then one measure of success is how widely this information is used.

But, how do you measure user adoption?

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Why We Love Data Blending and Merging (And You Should, Too!)

data-mergeWhen the data your business users need resides in many different systems – in corporate databases, in the cloud, in Excel spreadsheets, in external sources, etc. – getting a consolidated view of your organization can be hard.

That’s where data blending and merging comes in. It allows you to combine data from different sources to see the big picture and it is the topic for this the ninth article in our series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform.

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Why applying your brand to your dashboards increases adoption rates

Retail dashboardThis is the eighth article in our series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform. In previous articles, we’ve discussed why you need a fast and agile design environment to create interactive dashboards and information applications that meet the needs of today’s business users. We’ve also looked at ways to increase user adoption rates so more people have access to the information they need to do their jobs.

Here, again, we focus on adoption and specifically why if your dashboards take on the look and feel of your corporate brand, you will enjoy higher usage levels.

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How to ensure your data reaches everyone, at all times

KPI-IPAD-LANDSCAPEThis is the seventh article in our series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform. In previous articles, we’ve discussed why you need a fast and agile design environment to keep pace with changing business needs. We’ve also explained that to guarantee high levels of user adoption, business people should be able to use their interactive dashboards and information applications without training.

Today, we turn our attention to the needs of remote workers, because no matter how connected the world is becoming, there are still places where we struggle to access information. Mid-flight, on the subway, or when we’re meeting with clients – all these places may have limited or no network access, cutting us off from our information supply.

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[Success Story] Empowering employees with the information they need to deliver brilliant services in the housing sector

Together Housing Dashboard, iPad1The Together Housing Group is a leading provider of quality, affordable and modern homes for rent or sale across the North of England. The group consists of six registered social housing providers, all with charitable status, who manage 38,000 homes and affect over 50,000 people’s lives.

In the past, they struggled to pull together a suite of Excel® and Word® templates to provide timely, consistent and accurate information to employees. Now, with DecisionPoint™, everyone has access to the most recent information in a dashboard they can just pick-up and use.

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How to design one dashboard that fits any device

Shipping Dashboard Displayed on Multiple DevicesThis is the sixth article in our series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform. In previous articles, we’ve discussed why you need a fast and agile design environment to keep pace with changing business needs. And, we’ve discussed how to guarantee high levels of user adoption by creating interactive dashboards and information applications that business people can use without training.

Today, we return to these twin themes from the perspective of mobility. Business users expect to consume their content across a wide range of devices so they can access their information wherever they are, whenever they need it. This way they always have access to the information they need to do their jobs.

But, supporting multiple devices is not without its challenges.

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How dynamic labels and titles provide context to analytics to aid understanding

Business man with smartphone and tabletThis is the fifth article in our series looking at the key requirements of a modern information delivery platform. In earlier articles, we discussed why time to value and ease of use are critical to ensuring the effective use and dissemination of information within our organizations.

In this article, we explore how adding dynamic titles and labels into an interactive dashboard or information application can provide business users with more context around the information they are viewing, which aids understanding. This leads to increased user adoption and ensures that more people have the information they need to do their jobs.

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How to create app-like BI interfaces that ensure widespread user adoption

KPI dashboardPreviously, in this key requirements of a modern information delivery platform blog series we’ve discussed:

In the fourth article in this series, we look at how delivering application-like interfaces that match the way business users think, both makes it easier for people to get answers to their questions and ensures higher user adoption rates.

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Why the best interactive dashboards enable you to view information from different angles

DecisionPoint DashboardThis is the third article in our series which suggests some of the capabilities you should look for in a modern information delivery platform.

Previously, we discussed why a modern information delivery platform should enable non-programmers to create interactive dashboards and information applications and how business users should be able to pick them up and use them without training.

However, even though interactive dashboards and information applications should be easy to create and easy to use they still need to provide the flexibility to answer multiple business questions without business users being forced to go back to head office or the IT team.
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