What are your vital statistics? Do you know your figures and how do you use them?

Having worked in corporate for many years where part of the departments role was to provide certain information month in month out I understand that some data is invaluable to businesses to both monitor progress of the strategic goals but also to make operational decisions.

And yet there were pages and pages of data submitted each month that we knew wasn’t being used … and how did we know that… we made a decision to stop sending it out (we ran the reports but didn’t distribute them) and waited. And guess what…. Only a fraction of the people asked where there reports were and then we started meaningful conversations with them about the info they were receiving and what they were using it for and how we could provide something that gave them the real information they wanted.

And yet there were other things that people weren’t interested in until the proverbial hit the fan and then they wanted the information yesterday. But had they received that information on a regular basis along with other metrics the proverbial may not have hit the fan at all or if it did then impact would have been less severe.

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So what are the vital statistics for your business? What information is being collated? When is it being collated and how’s it being used?

One of the things that I talk with businesses about on a regular basis is the granular detail of their sales maps so that not only do they know every micro stage of the process but measure the conversion rates so they are fully aware that campaign A using media stream X delivered N sales and the number of leads that were at the start of the process and the conversion rate at each step. Unless they know this how will they know which campaign, media stream etc. is working and if they want to increase the volume of sales they need to know the increase of conversion needed at each step to do so.

It’s the same with social media – people aren’t using the simple but effective analytics that Google will give them to help understand what’s working and what’s not. Even if someone manages your social media and website for you its important that you understand these analytics and how they can be used to make changes that makes use of social media more effective, more cost effective and improves visibility and engagement.

In an article written for Director magazine earlier this year Leslie Hines at Revenue Performance Management Group International (www.rpmgi.com.au) says that “people tend to measure revenue where it lands. Because they have no leading indicators such as upstream conversion ratios and marketing and sales velocity they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow let alone the next quarter. If you know your lead indicators for each stage of the process you can achieve a level of predictability that will make a huge difference to growth. With good data you know which levers to pull. “

So in this paragraph Hines shows that analytics are vital to revenue growth as they allow you to not only react but also predict more accurately that then shows up deviations more clearly.

We all know that it’s important to know our numbers re sales, revenue, costs and so on. And I’m sure that we are doing that on a weekly if not daily basis.

But what about the other people in the business what are they measuring and reviewing on a daily basis?

When it comes to production/output for example what’s being measured around error rates? These highlight many things from user error (so possible retraining needed), to faulty equipment and materials, potential design faults and so on. Even in a service environment there should be some measure of these and they should form part of service level agreements.

What about customer services – are there trends that are being missed, early warning signs? Including length of time for calls, the number of calls a client makes, how many missed calls because the lines are busy and so on. This can be used to improve customer experiences and also be used to monitor performance in different ways especially when in conjunction with error rates mentioned.

People metrics when thrown into the mix can be really useful too, looking at absence rates in-conjunction with sales and turnover say, as well as the obvious people metrics around absence and staff turnover. If there’s an increase in error rates what was absence like during that time? Did it have an impact? Has it had a knock on effect? In small teams and SMEs it can be even more devastating that in larger businesses.

It’s also important to be sure about what is to be measured and how it’s going to be done. Plan systems so that the data needed is accessible. I’ve seen many systems, especially ones in central government where not enough thought was given to what metrics would be needed at the planning stage and so vital information that can be used to monitor performance and effectiveness of systems which makes it much more difficult to understand not only success but issues.

At the same time collating the information shouldn’t be a burden else it just adds to all the work that has to be done and people lose sight if its value. So know that systems have been planned and developed to access information but only the data that’s really needed to monitor and measure is being collected.

One of my mentors says on a regular basis – what gets measured gets done… and this quote from Clate Mask, CEO Infusionsoft takes it a step further…

Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is reported, performance improves dramatically. Where performance is reported publicly, performance improves exponentially.

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