I was recently presenting at a user group on one of my favorite topics – getting users to let go of reports in favor of performance indicators (PIs) and key performance indicators (KPIs). A great question was raised by one of the attendees: “My users won’t give up their reports! How do I convince them to make the switch?” This was promptly followed by a suggestion that I share my answer in one of my blogs. If you haven’t seen my presentation called Let It Go: Moving from Reports to KPIs, you can view it here. In this presentation, I talk about why reports can sometimes waste valuable time, and how looking first and foremost at focused information is the way to go. The first step to getting users to move from reports to KPIs, is figuring out why they hesitate to give up their reports in the first place. In my experience there are three characteristic that users that cling to large reports have. Typically, these users have:

  1. Doubt: They worry that they won’t be able to get the data if they wanted to
  2. Paranoia: This user doesn’t feel that the summary number they see is reliable, so they want to double check all the detail for themselves
  3. Performance Anxiety: This user feels it would be unacceptable to have to obtain the additional data that they need and it is better if it is just present from the start

All of these users can be vocal. Despite best efforts, they will rarely give up their reports without a fight (or an executive mandate). So how can you convince them – nicely – to join the more productive side of the organization? Here are the five steps that will help wean users off those reports and get focused on the things that really matter.

  1. Identify the problem and acknowledge that it’s valid. You have to let the user know that you hear their concern and are prepared to address it. All user traits described above are valid and reasonable concerns and you should be prepared to prove that they can be overcome.
  2. Provide a dual solution. The easy way to get users to give up reports is to not make them do it. I know this sounds crazy, but you actually want them to be positive about trying something new so you need start on a positive foot. This helps the doubt and the paranoia especially.
  3. Get drill down and performance sorted. For users with performance anxiety and paranoia, ensure that your solution has exceptionally fast drill down to get to the details. Drill down could zero in to whole original report, but it is generally better if takes the user to a focused set of results that align to source item.
  4. Prove and validate that their needs are being met. The dual solution is a stepping stone – not a stopping stone. Remember the goal is to wean them off the reports. Once your user has had an opportunity to see their KPIs and can happily drill down to the details, ask them how they are feeling about it. If they aren’t happy, go back to the beginning until they feel comfortable with the process.
  5. Last resort, you can remove the reports from their workspaces with the blessing (or sometimes just blissful ignorance) of the user.

The real goal behind these steps is to ease the users off reports in a way that they will feel good about. With any luck, they will become a new type of user: the Champion.


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