7 Steps to Superior Business Intelligence

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1 7 Steps to Superior Business Intelligence For several years, it has been common knowledge that for growth and profitability, a company must offer pre-eminent customer service and to do so, it requires customer knowledge, driven by the collection and easy access to customer data. For many businesses, storage and manipulation of this data has required the implementation of CRM software. However, CRM should not be viewed solely as a data storage facility; instead, most CRM solutions can offer you an array of quick-view reporting tools, that allow you and your management team to easily digest information on a variety of critical business key performance indicators. In this ebook, we review the dashboard feature available in Maximizer CRM and divulge the seven best practices to implement and the common mistakes dashboard users should avoid to ensure you retrieve valuable business metrics in real-time from your CRM, arming your Senior Management with the business intelligence they need to make informed business decisions. What s in this ebook? The 7 steps to generating and using effective dashboards: Make it simple, easy to read and accessible Keep it clutter free Keep it accurate & current Make it actionable Chose metrics that matter Take metrics mobile Keep it visual

2 What are dashboards? Before we introduce the seven foundations to dashboards, let s quickly understand what we mean by dashboard. Let s start by considering where the first dashboards come from, you ve probably seen one of the most famous dashboards displayed, which very simply provide pilots with all the vital information they need to keep planes in the air. In a similar way, a CRM dashboard offers management a graphical summary of various pieces of important information, in an easy to digest visual presentation. Typically, dashboards are used to give an overview of a business and therefore, they can be very powerful business tools as they help to measure key performance indicators required to keep a business profitable. In this ebook, we offer best practice tips to set up your business dashboards, plus help you identify the key KPI s you may want to track to really understand how your business is performing and hopefully, you will end up with something like this A CRM dashboard offers management a graphical summary of various pieces of important information, in an easy to digest visual presentation. which can be converted into 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 2

3 1. Keep it simple, easy to read and accessible Your dashboards should be easy to access and view. Having to spend 20 minutes looking at your dashboards to understand the information they present defeats the purpose of having the information at your fingertips. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving information which is too complicated to consume. It is therefore imperative your dashboards are easy to read and are visible to all within the company requiring access to this information. This can be achieved by making sure everyone in the team has the same data access rights. Plus, try to avoid duplicating the same multiple dashboards measuring the same thing it is better to share collaborative dashboards, to ensure everyone can see the big-company picture, based on the key business metrics. A good tip is to make sure your dashboards are set to load when stakeholders log into their CRM solution. It s easy to get overly ambitious and want to provide highly detailed, realtime dashboards covering each and every business challenge, but with dashboards, less is almost always more. The most common mistake businesses tend to make when creating a dashboard is being overly ambitious, by trying to capture every business metric in one view. We recommend you start small and first identify the top five indicators that are relevant to you, your role and your team, instead of spending weeks on trying to perfect your dashboards to present a view of every possible metric Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 3

4 2. Keep it accurate and current Sales, Marketing, Support and other managers rely on dashboard information to make strategic decisions, such as setting sales quotas, creating projections, etc., so it is imperative for this information to be as accurate as possible. This is horribly obvious, but as soon as you start sharing data with colleagues and possibly throughout the organisation, it quickly becomes fact, especially when data is provided as a visual diagram. Therefore, when setting up dashboards, focus must be placed on making sure the searches are accurate and the time frames selected remain relevant, keeping in mind not all KPIs need to be updated at the same time: some may need to be updated every hour, whereas others might just require a weekly update. One tip to ensure accuracy is comparing your first dashboard results against a more detailed search. If the dashboard data mirrors the report, the accuracy of your data is confirmed and the dashboard is ready to share with colleagues. Repeat this process on occasion to ensure continued If your dashboards are not kept up to date, they will quickly lose their credibility and people within your company will stop using this powerful tool. Once data is shared within an organisation, it will quickly become fact. Missing and duplicate data can quickly erode accuracy so a continual focus most be placed on reviewing exactness and ensuring the selected time range remains relevant Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 4

5 3. Choose metrics that matter To maximize the effectiveness of dashboards, it is important that the metrics being tracked are connected to specific objectives. Metrics that just make your department look good, for example the total number of phone calls made by your Business Development team, are not as important as say, the number of calls that resulted in a meeting with a decision maker. Therefore as a team, you should identify your key objectives; for example, a Sales Manager is likely to require a dashboard highlighting the number of opportunities currently in the pipeline and at what point in the purchasingcycle they are. Also, a common metric used by Sales is to look at the number of leads abandoned and after how many interactions, segmenting them by salesperson. Both reports will provide the Sales Manager with an instant insight into position against sales target and highlight which of the salespeople are converting well. However, once each team has identified their team goals and the metrics they wish to measure, it is important to feed these into the overall corporate goals and objectives of the company. For example, the Marketing team should measure their contribution to the overall business, not by simply reporting on the number of leads generated or the number of website visitors received that month, but by connecting their metrics to sales, to identify sales opportunity growth, which ultimately can be connected to increased sales revenue, a key focus for any company. When selecting KPIs for your dashboards, make sure they are systematic and ongoing measurements, ensuring each team produces individual dashboards displaying the value of their contribution, but connected to the overall profitability metrics of the company. Just because you can use a dashboard to visually display anything doesn t mean you should. Dashboards should only show important information that multiple stakeholders would find useful. If you have a large Business Intelligence requirement, it is likely you will need to generate a standard report within your CRM, rather than use a dashboard. Don t try to measure too much: if your dashboard is too complicated, it will lose its relevance within the organisation Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 5

6 4. Keep it visual The primary objective of any dashboard is to offer real-time snapshots of key metrics of your business and therefore, an effective dashboard must be first and foremost quick and easy to read. A dashboard is not a detailed report, text heavy, requiring time to read and digest; a dashboard should be visually appealing and offer visual stimuli to convey information in a way to support instant understanding, without much text or numbers. Most people have heard the adage a picture is worth a thousand words : because the human brain is trained from birth to consume and understand visual data, such as numbers or pictures as individual chunks of information. In contrast text is a collection of information, requiring the brain to store and process multiple chunks to comprehend meaning. The ideal dashboard can be understood in an instant. The simpler and easier a dashboard is to read, the more powerful it becomes. Therefore by using dashboards, you can maximize the visual and minimise the textual and by keeping this in mind when designing your dashboards, you will generate strong graphical images, leading to a great comprehension of key results. One key tip to designing a successful dashboard is to run the eye-ball test ask someone in your office to quickly review you dashboard, glancing over the image for 30 seconds and then explain back to you what they understood. This will be a clear indicator as to whether the various components of your dashboard tell a clear story. This is a good example of a clear and concise dashboard, showing potential sales pipeline revenue against factual forecast Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 6

7 5. Keep it clutter free For a dashboard to be effective in communicating data, it needs to be simple in its visual appeal and the best practice number five is more a mistake to avoid rather than a tip to complete. Following on from the previous point, to keep your dashboards simple and visual, you must first ensure they are clutter free. To reduce clutter, avoid showing too much data, such as that never-ending pie-chart, with segments so small they become irrelevant to the overall picture. People aren t going to bother checking dashboards if it s a struggle to read them. It is important to consider what could clutter your dashboard: Using flashy visuals often result in a cluttered appearance, which in turn can limit or reduce comprehension. For example, using 3D graphics and pop-outs is confusing to the eye, so let s keep 3D at the cinema and out of our dashboards. Avoid displaying over complicated widgets or various graphical designs on the same page: simplicity is the key to comprehension and comprehension is the goal of all good dashboards. Plus, minimise the number of indicators presented on one screen. Dashboards can be saved and favourite searches can easily be found from a drop down menu, so build different dashboards for different metrics instead of trying to squash all results onto one screen Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 7

8 6. Make it actionable So far, we have concentrated on making sure your dashboards provide accurate, comprehensible data, but the third key to dashboard success is also to make them actionable, so you can use the data presented to drive actionable tasks that aid the company in achieving its goals. Therefore, effective dashboards should go beyond just painting a picture, they should support your team in identifying the necessary actions required, based on the metrics displayed. Often, this ability to drill down into key indicators is a forgotten component of dashboards, so when you first present your dashboards to your colleagues, ensure you also show them how they can drill down into the contact list or into the raw data; it is also very useful to use indicators to launch task alerts for colleagues to complete specific activities. In short, you can use dashboards not just to display metric tied to key goals, but also to flag actions required to support KPI s, whether on a company or even at an individual level. The key is to create dashboards which allow your team to really question the data and shared results, and react to the information provided to ensure the company, the team or themselves as individuals, stay in target to meet business objectives. You can use dashboards not just to display metric tied to key goals, but also to flag actions required to support KPI s, whether on a company or even at an individual level. Again, it may seem obvious, but to be effective and generate flags at critical times for tasks to be completed, dashboards must be kept up-to-date. In fact, the one of the biggest mistakes made by CRM users is to ignore the need to continually update and maintain key operational dashboards. Ensure resource and time is set aside to review and maintain the dashboards. Nothing is worse than out of date dashboards offering outdated information on the company s performance it tells everyone that what has been deemed as a key performance indicator isn t really that important to the management, killing collaboration, engagement and any attempt at motivating your employees to perform Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 8

9 7. Take metrics mobile The final best practice is making your dashboards mobile: most CRMs will provide access to your Key Indicator dashboards from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, so being on the road is no longer an excuse for not having access to the latest information. With the workforce becoming increasingly more flexible, access to the company CRM and not just the dashboards is essential to ensure these individuals, whether home-workers, flexi-time workers or mobile salespeople, can continue to take ownership of their actions and also respond immediately to dashboard indicator generated tasks, anytime and from any location. Plus, from the perspective of the management team, accessing key metrics will support business decisions when out of the office, at boardroom meetings or project meetings with suppliers or business partners. To maintain ownership and responsibility, all employees need to be aware of the overall company position against objectives and take the individual actions needed to support these objectives, even if they work remotely or are out of the office. To disregard a segment of your workforce, simply because they are not physically present in the office, will end up hurting your business and remove visibility of the contribution these individuals can offer. Remote access maintains awareness of key objectives while staff are away from the office. It s helpful to be able to check dashboards when travelling for work, in the evenings, or when otherwise away from the customer Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 9

10 In conclusion In a recent survey of Maximizer CRM users, 35% felt improved dashboards would have the greatest impact in improving management of their sales pipeline, 23% said they would help improve customer service follow-up, 17% use them to track marketing results and 15% felt dashboards would help them communicate business results against business objectives, motivating colleagues, encouraging employee ownership and supporting company goals. Where would dashboards have the greatest impact to your business? Use the answer to this question and: 1. Identify which metrics you want to measure Consider what metrics you would measure via your dashboard; here are some key screening criteria provided by Protivia Consultancy to assist you: Alignment with strategic objectives Influence by the enterprise Actionability Simplicity Credibility Integration Measurability Cost-effectiveness to access Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 10

11 2. View examples of the most common dashboards Marketing Cost per lead Campaign effectiveness Customer lifetime value Lead to customer rate Revenue won through marketing campaigns Sales Lead response time Follow-ups by rep Sales growth Pipeline breakdown Factored pipeline value Customer Service Average response time Load by rep Customer request frequency Abandon rate Number of complaints 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 11

12 3. Follow dashboard best practice 4. Leverage your CRM investment In conclusion, CRM is not simply a sales tool: it can benefit the entire company. The functionality and business intelligence metrics provided by different teams using dashboards, connected to overall business objectives, are a great example of how a CRM solution can support big-picture management in a world of big data Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 12

13 Next Steps We hope this ebook has provided you with the information you require to generate your own dashboards. However, if you would like a practical demonstration or you would like to trial Maximizer CRM and create your own dashboards, call our friendly team of CRM experts on +44 (0) or Alternatively, please feel free to access our additional complimentary resources on the subject of dashboards, including a webinar recording detailing the seven best practices covered in this ebook and providing a practical demonstration. We hope you find these resources useful: WEBINAR: 7 Pillars of Effective Dashboards (including a practical demonstration) HOW TO VIDEO: How to set up your own wizard-driven dashboards Free Trials Try the latest Maximizer CRM for yourself with: ONLINE TEST DRIVE MOBILE TEST DRIVE 14 DAY TRIAL Share with a colleague Print 2014 Maximizer Software Inc. 7 Steps for Superior Business Intelligence 13

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