The trouble with KPIs - A stepby-step guide to managing Key

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1 The trouble with KPIs - A stepby-step guide to managing Key Performance Indicators Field ServiceWhitepaper

2 Introduction This document presents some simple ideas that we hope will help you manage your business in a more efficient manner. Essentially, we re hoping to debunk some of the nonsense and over-complexity surrounding KPIs, analysis, reporting and measurement. These ideas come from experience on both sides of the Business Intelligence fence - technology suppliers and business managers. What is a KPI? Understanding this is the central issue and the reason that so many KPI projects fail. KPI is an acronym of Key Performance Indicator. They are designed in such a way as to give you a snapshot of your organisation in relation to the goals you have set for it. From it you should be able to see exactly how you are doing against pre-defined criteria be that historical data, goals or competitors. But first you need to decide what it is you want to measure - you need to define your KPIs. There are three things that you need to think about and keep in mind during every stage of defining a KPI project. It should also be noted that KPIs should not be confused with a critical success factor - that is, something that needs to be in place to achieve an objective; for example, recruiting skilled engineers may be a critical success factor for an objective related to business expansion. Rather, a KPI is a measure of the effectiveness of this objective in contributing to business growth; for example, sales revenue or market share. When setting out the KPIs for your business, ask yourselves some questions: Is it KEY? Is this the KEY to your business success? What are the issues that will make a REAL difference to the success of your business? Looking at your financial and management information reports (no matter HOW you generate that information) is the right place to start. If you have a benchmark you can use for comparison - either industry research or previous personal experience - find the items that are out of step from your expectations and mark them out. Which of these is pushing your business forwards and which is holding it back?

3 Is it about PERFORMANCE? Is the measure something that actually affects or is affected by your business performance? Is changing this measure by say 10% going to alter the success of your business? Is it something that you can control or something that is specifically impacting your business? Or is it something environmental that affects everyone in your market equally? Can you respond to this or are you better focusing attention elsewhere? Is this really an INDICATOR? How is it conveying information to you? Are you actually measuring something in a realistic manner? Can you put a numeric value on the measure so you can track progress and change? And if you can understand that something is changing, can you understand how that change has come about? Once you have a list of potential KPIs you ve done half the work. But now you need to step back and make some truly strategic decisions. Which are the candidates that have the biggest impact on your business? Which of these can you actually do the most to change? How much capacity for change is there within your business? The problem with management by KPI at a strategic level is that if you want to make big changes, you need to put a big percentage of your effort and focus into changing each selected KPI. The bigger the change you want to make, the harder it is likely to be to make that change, the greater the focus you need to place on the KPI selected to measure the effects. And that means selecting just a few. The system has provided a clearer window for senior management to view and control the business so allowing greater focus on ways to add significant improvements to customer service and satisfaction levels. Engineers are more efficient, customers are kept informed and service delivery and fix times have been shortened. This has allowed our business to react quickly to new accounts and changing customer requirements. Music Marketing Services

4 Why are KPIs relevant to YOUR business? This is best explained by looking at a real life example and bringing the ideas back to your business. This is the real example of a consultancy and software business established from the merger of two long established competitors. Each was a specialist in Business Intelligence and Business Analysis, but had different approaches, techniques and practices. When the new CFO joined the company it was heading for serious financial turmoil. Dwindling cash reserves made the company vulnerable to predatory take-over. Rising DSO (days sales outstanding) was stalling cash flow. And no matter how hard the sales and marketing teams worked, no matter how fast they grew revenue, profits were falling as were customer satisfaction measures. The CFO reviewed the company s reporting and decided that it was indeed extensive and comprehensive. He had access to data on just about everything the company did, and the reporting pack for the executive management board ran to hundreds of pages. However, connecting the data to create genuine information was a Herculean task, so extracting the knowledge needed to direct the changes the business obviously required was often just educated guesswork, despite the hundreds of reported items available to him.

5 His answer was to select just FOUR KPIs that the entire organisation would work towards - everything else could be ignored, at least at a strategic level: Sales revenue DSO Customer satisfaction Cash reserves DSO at the company was high because it did not receive revenue from its sales contracts until projects went live. So a high DSO probably meant there were project over-runs in the system, and possible disconnects between sales, consultancy, product management, support and accounts. There were undeniable disputes between the consultancy approach of one part of the business and the product-focused part stretching back to the merger. By recognising that DSO was the big financial stumbling stone, and that it was high due to a number of factors entirely within their control, the business had a unified focus on what to improve. Provided they kept sales up, reducing DSO would free-up cash, and probably reduce costs as a bonus, since so much time was being wasted on trying to fix related issues without ever getting to the heart of the problem. The company therefore swung into action to identify exactly why the over-runs were occurring, and put into place plans and activities to deal with its findings. The result required investment to improve software testing, and changes to the implementation consultancy business and distribution channel. It also meant employing extra resource for the credit control teams. DSO fell, as predicted, and by also retaining a focus on sales revenue, cash reserves also rose. Maintaining a forth focus on customer satisfaction ensured that changes made to fix the problem reflected the issues as customers saw them, meaning that the results would be sustainable because sales, consultancy, product management and support were all working together to ensure the customers were getting what they paid for. As they started to see a quicker turn-around of their projects, customer satisfaction rapidly started rising, payments started arriving quicker and the company could move on to face the next issue - which meant re-evaluating the KPIs to which the CFO would work.

6 Why is less actually more? Our example shows that it s not how many KPIs that dictate how your business performs, but rather what KPIs you choose. By choosing the right KPIs and committing the whole company to fix one problem, the CFO in our example was able to swing the performance of the entire business. If he had built a list of 20 or 30 KPIs it is quite possible that the issues pushing-up DSO could have remained lost in the mix. Maybe the business might have been turned around by focusing on other things, but it is also possible that the company could have been split into groups dealing with many different aspects of business, some of which conflicted. Selecting the right KPIs So in your business, what are the four things you need to change? How will you measure them? Is four too many, and if you need more KPIs, is your business structured to be able to act on them without creating conflict? And what are you going to do to affect change to your KPIs? Why not apply the example of DSO in your business? How do you measure the difference between time sold to clients and money received in your bank account? Can you measure how long it takes to get there? And can you identify the things that are slowing it down? In this example, you should think about the journey and transformation taken by the hours of your fee-earners into invoiced hours and invoice value, and then into cash in the bank. Is your timesheet system turning records of time into billable hours quickly enough, and if not, why? Is your invoice process turning billable hours accurately and quickly into invoice value or is there a time consuming manual element to your billing process? And how long does it take to get those invoices paid? Do you need a better credit control and chasing regime? What happens when you receive payment? - Is your cheque handling process up to scratch? - Can you offer your clients automated electronic payment? If you were able to take a day out of each of these tasks you would reduce your DSO by five days. With the help of Advanced Field Service Solutions, Montgomery Refrigeration recognised the need for KPI monitoring and improved processes: Billing is now an almost instant process: We ve completely eliminated the previous delay of up to three weeks.

7 What do you do next? When you have selected the issues most critical to improving your business and identified the KPIs that will help monitor and deliver change, you need to identify all the business processes involved in processing the activities you wish to measure. From there you can identify the IT and manual systems that manage those processes and report on their throughput and results. The fact that this (paperwork) is done automatically on their hand-held device as they finish a job means an efficiency saving of around 5% in this area alone. Montgomery Refrigeration Once you know all the elements that create or report on the performance measured in your KPIs you can start to work out what you need to do to make improvements. Do you have IT deployed to manage the right systems? Do you have the right service management systems implemented in the most appropriate way? Do you have over or under capacity in any resource and can you redeploy more appropriately or do you need to invest? Being able to identify processes and reporting structures like this means that you can plan a series of small, incremental changes that could bring about a significant cumulative improvement, or identify an opportunity for a major step change - maybe a new field service management system to integrate several processes, speed throughput, share information across your business and help improve client service responsiveness.

8 Advanced Business Solutions With over 30 years experience, Advanced Business Solutions is one of the UK s leading providers of integrated field service management software including Siclops and Service Director used by service organisations and growing businesses to manage their operations, service engineers and maintenance technicians. From mobile data, call management and planned preventative maintenance, to scheduling, contract management and KPI reporting, our solutions provide instant access to real time information to optimise efficiencies, reduce time to invoice and gain unprecedented insight into the most, and least, profitable areas of your business. Advanced s integrated business critical service management solutions are used in a wide range of industry sectors including: HVAC, utilities, refrigeration, access & security, building & electrical, catering & vending, cleaning & laundry, lighting & signage, and medical & scientific. Advanced Business Solutions is part of the Advanced Computer Software Group. For further information, please contact the team: Advanced Field Service Solutions Ltd, trading as Advanced Business Solutions and an Advanced Computer Software Group plc company. All rights reserved.

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