There has been a lot of buzz recently on KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. We talk about the shift from traditional reports to KPIs in this post. While reports are sometimes very useful, necessary evils, the reality is, as soon as there are more than 20 pieces of data on a report, nobody is reading the whole thing anymore. So what’s the problem? Wasted time skimming for answers, missing valuable information and wasted performance running BAJs (big ass jobs). To drive high-performance in your organization, you must first put a stop to these endless, 20-page reports. To do this, we want to coach users that sometimes lengthy reports aren’t what they are really looking for. If you remember our rules about creating killer KPIs, we need to make sure they are measurable, actionable and tied to the business strategy. By asking the users these questions, you can help isolate what it is they really care about on the report and find those hidden gems:

  1. What is the FIRST thing you look at in this report? Give the user a highlighter and ask them to highlight and number the first figures they look at on the report. Then keep going to the second and so-on. This gives you the framework of information and will help you strip out the white noise of all that excess data. Tell the user not to worry, though! They can still have all their detail that makes them feel warm and fuzzy in a drill down.
  2. Why are you looking at that figure? Understanding the “why” helps you organize these results together. If the user is looking at 3 months of sales because they want to compare values, you actually get a clue as to how to best present that information for them.
  3. How do you know if that result is good or bad? We’ve said that KPIs are measurable and actionable. Make sure a user knows what they are looking for. By knowing this, you can incorporate it in the visualization so that anyone who looks at it will be able to gain insight.
  4. What will you do if it is good or bad? If the user can’t tell you what they will do with the information, it is time to dig a little further in why they actually want to see it.
  5. When do you monitor this? There isn’t any point in wasting time or resources looking at information constantly that isn’t changing. Real time is the way to go but not all data changes by the minute, day or week. So, check the frequency so you can ensure efficiency.

Then rinse and repeat until you’ve picked the most relevant and useful KPIs and there are typically many KPIs on a single, traditional report. Now, instead of massive reports of raw data that provide lots of information, you can provide insights that add value to the company.

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