REPORTING, ANALYTICS, AND DASHBOARD DESIGN

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1 BEST PRACTICE REPORTING, ANALYTICS, AND DASHBOARD DESIGN

2 BACKGROUND Timely and accurate sales performance information provides necessary feedback to help sales managers manage and reps stay focused. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to provide clear and meaningful information to their field sales organization and/or distributors. When this occurs, compensation plans lose their punch and reps waste time building their own tracking reports. This paper discusses how to design, build and operate performance management solutions that truly drive performance. A TYPICAL SALES OPERATIONS BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SUITE The typical sales operations group will have a set of technologies and reporting tools that are fairly sophisticated in providing information for their field. Why then, is the state of reporting and analytics considered less than optimal at so many companies today? Some of the symptoms that are commonly observed when information is less than adequate are the following: Sales reps are complaining about the lack of information, and question the integrity of their information they do receive. Reports are often not more advanced than a simple set of statements, none of which are working in conjunction with one another. Information must be consumed through a web portal, which requires an additional login. Management has access to simple dashboards, but advanced analytics have not been set up for business users, so speedometers, temperature gauges, and other tools are very simplistic. Management has been set up with a state of the art business intelligence solution, but the promise of self-service has not been realized because the tool is not designed to meet the needs of the business users. HOW DID WE GET HERE? Often, sales operations groups begin business intelligence implementation efforts with a great deal of enthusiasm. For these programs to have a lukewarm delivery record and less than optimal satisfaction levels, several common problems often conspire to make information delivery limp along: 2

3 No consolidation efforts have taken place to bring information together properly. Several systems of record exist for various corporate and sales information. None of this data has been brought together in order to centralize information. This leads to reports that are specific to each system. Reporting and Analytics is often treated as a project that is to happen after the introduction of the EIM solution being brought in house to service the solution. This has the bad consequence of the initial focus often IS in the processing of compensation. As a result, only information directly related to the processing of compensation is present in the original repository, and all of the architectural decisions have been focused on efficient compensation processing and not information transparency. Perhaps most critically, the various stakeholders across the business have not been brought together to think through the information elements they want in a comprehensive compensation system. Without defining the proper manner in which behavior should be modeled and captured through KPIs, management rarely has the ability to efficiently communicate objective measures of performance to drive incentivized behavior, and information delivery remains too granular and not efficient. THE 5 STEPS TO GETTING BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE RIGHT 1. HAVE A GAME PLAN Many of the problems stem from the lack of a good game-plan that companies employ when they are rolling out their Business Intelligence programs. Often, companies have a desire for a single report, or perhaps a set of reports they would like to deploy. However, an organization can paint themselves into a corner when they operate in this manner. It becomes important to have discussions about what is critical for the business to become efficient at measuring and sharing across the organization. This effort of determining the core sets of KPIs that are to be used in support of organizational initiatives are vital to make information delivery realize its promise of making the field force engage in higher ROI behavior. Getting key stakeholders on the same page is a vitally important part of this effort. According to a Gartner Group paper entitled, Gartner Sees A Big Discrepancy Between BI Expectations And Realities, one of the major reasons that BI implementations fail is the business lacks an understanding of the information that they would like to consume. Therefore, a strong sense of shared mission amongst the various business owners, defining exactly what they would like to see from their business intelligence solution is a vital component of this effort. 3

4 Getting an inventory of the data elements and where information exists in the organization is also crucial it sets the expectations and understanding of the silos in which data resides, and shapes the scope and effort of the data consolidation efforts. PILLARS OF A GOOD BI GAMEPLAN Determine the Key Metrics and KPIs Get Stakeholders on the Same Page Identify Where the Data Resides Start with a Data Dictionary, Not Reports 2. DELIVER INCREMENTALLY Traditional BI efforts are multiple year engagements that take users through the efforts of defining, designing, testing, and changing the information architecture and interactions with the end users. However, one of the problems with this approach is if it takes too long to reap the fruit of such a system, business users will become disenchanted and fatigue will take place. In adopting elements of agile development that have taken root in traditional software systems, an incremental approach should be taken, as opposed to the business intelligence solutions that we often see. By taking the results of a good game plan, identifying information that is readily available, and then giving priority to the important elements of this information allows reports and analytics to get into the hands of the business users in a shorter amount of time. Phases of releases should be measured in weeks, and not months, and the deliverables should be more lightweight than the traditional business intelligence model. Teams should be cross functional and self-organizing to avoid bottlenecks in delivery and to get results in a quick manner. Most importantly, agile BI practices allow releases to get to business users more quickly, and important feedback can be gathered to determine the extent and scope for which changes should be accommodated to the released reports and dashboards. 4

5 3. PARTNER WITH THE FIELD, AND MAKE REPORTING EVOLVE It is often the case that reporting and dashboards are designed with some level of interaction with a representative of the field in the early phases of the reporting lifecycle. However, once the reports go through an initial signoff, they often do not change, even though the field has numerous complaints about the quality of information they are receiving, or new information that they would like to request. In fact, these set of field reports will often not change until a major effort to release a whole new set of reports and dashboards takes place, often a year or more after the initial release. But this approach rarely leaves the sales force satisfied with their quality of information. A better approach is to work with the sales advisory group, in an iterative manner, to identify and discuss things that they did or did not like about the current set of reports. These meetings should take place during design, once the reports have gone live, and while the reports are in production. Use survey tools to the field to gather feedback, and discuss the feedback during the advisory group meetings. From each meeting, capture the small set of changes desired for each report. Make changes to the reports, with the goal of a slightly improved version for each new cycle during the first quarter of the report in production. 4. USE THE RIGHT TOOLS (AND IN THE RIGHT WAY!) Using the right combination of tools to make sure reports are meeting the needs of the end users is of vital importance in getting a business intelligence framework that meets the needs of the sales force. In an increasingly fast pace world, having information at the rep s fingertips is no longer a luxury but a necessity in making their day more efficient. Smart phones and devices such as the Apple IPad are allowing business people to become less attached to their home or work office, and in front of clients and prospects. However, many organizations are still using dated methodologies and technologies to deliver information, not making best advantage of the tools their own salespeople use on a daily basis, nor the tools that reside in their own IT department. Many companies have made the investment in the right set of tools data warehousing tools for data consolidation and analysis(informatica), a reporting and analytics framework(business Objects/Cognos), and even an EIM software package(callidus, Varicent), but need to take a more flexible approach in the manner in which they utilize these tools. Many organizations still rely on having sales reps be on a vpn to log into a reporting portal in order to get vital reports. Often, this information is not even available to the end user on their smartphone! ing a flash report directly to any device that can consume it is a more appropriate manner to deliver information to reps. Additionally, many organizations have the right tools, but they do not have the appropriate talented folks working on the technology pieces. There may be a desire to have aggregated reporting information available on a dashboard for reps to use, along with a heatmap of national trends. The organization may have the full suite of technology tools to make this a possibility, but without 5

6 talented reporting and data architects, business experts that intimately understand the information well, and a project manager that is committed to bringing the relevant parties together and tracking to success, the tools alone will not make the project successful! Having flexibility and using the right tools in delivering reports is the best manner in which to get information out to the field. Figure 1: Can Your Existing BI Platform Support This Dashboard, Where Important Metrics Are Defined, Geographical Information is Aggregated and Visually Illustrated, For Every Member of The Field On An Ongoing Basis? 5. DELIVER INTERACTIVE REPORTS FOR ALL Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, yet far too frequently ineffective reporting and analytics are being delivered. As a result, reps continue to waste time building their own reports and sending basic information inquiries to the home office. From a strategic standpoint, information delivery done right can drive desired behaviors and get the most from a compensation plan design. Many organizations focus on delivering the best reports to sales management, however, by putting powerful information in the hands of each rep, they will save time and work harder to attain their goals. Good designs are rich in information, well organized and include interactivity such as drill downs and sliders for forecasting. 6

7 Figure 2: Personal Performance Dashboard Has Interactive Sliders and Dropdown Menus, Allowing Reps To Perform What If Scenarios. 7

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