Undergoing change? How do you keep on top of things?

Problems of time and money

One major problem with most methods of business reporting is that they take time and money to set up. And these two resources aren’t always in ready supply.

For example, take an organisation that’s undergoing either significant growth or a merger/acquisition. In these situations, it’s common for the normal business processes and systems to become overwhelmed. Suddenly, your accounting system is insufficient or maybe you end up with multiple financial systems. Or, worse still, management must contend with getting data from multiple systems.

Yes, the ideal solution is to migrate to a more capable, unifying platform but, again, this takes time and money. Sometimes it never happens.

While these problems are being sorted out, leadership tends to run blind. Even if leaders facing these issues have some idea of what’s going on, they’re certainly not fully informed.

Where Bizeo comes in

There are several reasons why this situation is perfect for Bizeo:

  1. Bizeo is quick and inexpensive to deploy. You can set up connections with new systems in minutes and it doesn’t require IT intervention.
  2. Bizeo is designed to handle  data from many physical locations at once. Just install a drone and away you go.
  3. Bizeo is easy to use, so managers don’t have the learning curve usually associated with using, say, a new business dashboard.

And even if your business has bigger plans, and the resources and budget to produce the ultimate management information tool, nothing beats Bizeo in these scenarios.

And who knows—you just might find that management never wants to let it go!

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CEOs—needing to know more but reading less

The pressure on CEOs and business owners these days is immense. There are so many competing priorities and people constantly demanding their attention and time.

This makes business management one of the most time-poor professions.

Despite these pressures on their time, it’s still vital that business people keep up with what’s going on in their business and industry. They need a lot of information quickly. But how best to deliver this information to them?

In a recent survey of more than 350 CEOs, ceo.com set out to establish how CEOs consume information. One key finding was something that I also hear repeatedly from business owners regardless of media type—information must be bite-sized, relevant and immediate.

Additionally, 70% indicated that they seldom read textual content online in full; instead, they scan this content for main points just to keep on top of things. (I hope they’re reading this!)

The survey also found that CEOs are becoming increasingly ‘information agnostic’. This means they care less and less about what format their information takes as long as it’s immediate and consumable.

I’m fascinated by findings like these because they accurately reflect my own experience as a CEO. They also reassure me that we were on the right track when we created Bizeo. What could be more immediate and consumable than a single indicator that lets business owners know that everything in their business is ok?

In some ways, it’s a ridiculously simple concept and yet, amazingly, noone has done it before! Noone has used a single indicator across dozens of systems to relay that one simple message.

It’s official. CEOs don’t want reports, dashboards, phone calls or information they have to chase—just time-saving reassurance.

Google Analytics—without the overload

Why Google Analytics is great

If you’re a keen reader of my blog posts, you’ll know how much I love to measure things. So it’s probably not surprising that I think Google Analytics is an amazing tool.

Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about your website:

  • where visitors come from
  • how long they spend on your site
  • what they click on
  • where they go to
  • and much more.

As I said, it’s an amazing tool—in trained hands. The problem is that it’s also pretty typical of the business dashboards that most business owners encounter.

How business owners (don’t) use Google Analytics

When I ask business owners about Google Analytics, I find that most have heard about it. In fact, most are pretty sure they’re using it. However, none are actually looking at the statistics themselves.

Why? Because it’s just too hard.

While they’re interested in how their websites and marketing investments are going, Google Analytics provides too many options. They also need to log in each time and, annoyingly, Google frequently changes the interface so things are never where they were last time they saw it.

A screen shot of the Google Analytics dashboard

Google Analytics dashboard

Yet this tool can provide a wealth of critical detail that most business owners would like to know, such as:

  • How many people visit our site?
  • Are visitor numbers increasing or decreasing?
  • Are people spending more or less time on our website?
  • How much are we spending on Google advertising?
  • Is our web strategy producing results?

These questions show that business owners typically don’t want to do detailed analysis—they have specialists for that! Instead, they want to keep an eye on general trends and the primary KPIs to answer the basic questions: Is what we’re doing effective or not?  Are we spending too much or too little?

They want this information without having to deal with the complexity of the Google Analytics dashboard.

This is one of the great problems that Bizeo solves.

Where Bizeo comes in

First of all, Bizeo can bypass the Google Analytics interface to deliver these KPIs inside Bizeo!

No need to remember the Google login details, no ever-changing interface and no complex menus to navigate. Just simple business KPIs like all the others that Bizeo manages—and alerts, of course, just in case your KPIs go out of range.

Graph of Bizeo showing information simply.

You can also combine these stats with a whole range of other important things you want to watch.

Of course, monitoring whether your website is up or down is important, as is your Alexa Site Ranking, which tells you how popular your site is measured against all other websites on the internet. The specific ranking is less important than the trend.

Bizeo has several KPI packages for Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Alexa ranking, uptime monitoring and much more. Each of these can be put in place at no extra charge and delivers this key information directly to you.

There’s no doubt that Google Analysis is a great tool when it’s in trained hands. But the rest of us can let Bizeo can do all the work and deliver the results. It takes the stress out of managing (and measuring!) your business.

Live data sources at a glance

As you continue to explore the possibilities of Bizeo, you’ll realise that those possibilities really are endless. (That’s one reason I created this blog – to ensure that you’re aware of everything that your fabulous new tool is capable of!)

One feature you should definitely explore is how Bizeo can connect to various live data sources, such as video camera feeds, websites, weather maps and dashboard systems.

What can you see?

Many video camera systems and webcams available on the internet can be set up to have their own URL as well.

For example, with my partner working at the University of Chicago, I can access the university’s webcams to see for myself how much snow is on the ground. http://r-cam.uchicago.edu/view/index.shtml

Chicago snow

If you have security cameras set up around your organisation, you can access those through Bizeo as well:

Office camera

You can link stock prices to the Yahoo finance page – corresponding with that stock.  You can also link to many dashboards and CRM systems that are available online.

How to do it

You can link to all your favourite live data sources simply by using the ‘Link’ option when you add or edit a task in Bizeo.

Bizeo live data source link

You can add any URL to this field. (A URL is usually a link to a website, or a path to a web service or system.)

For example, to see the current weather maps, you can type in the link to the Bureau of Meteorology URL, e.g. http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR663.loop.shtml. This link gives you the Brisbane weather radar feed.

If your organisation is heavily dependent on weather, this is one you should definitely have in your collection.

Bureau of Meteorology weather radar of Brisbane

Once you start thinking about it, you’ll probably come up with plenty of live data sources you need or would like at your fingertips – for business and for fun. (Because I don’t really need to know how much snow has fallen in Chicago, but I love that I can check it out!)

Use your imagination and let us know if you come up with something new or particularly useful. Better still, post it on our Facebook page so everyone can find out about it.

Bizeo for event managers

Excited early adopters

Having produced a product that helps businesses measure and manage their KPIs, I’ve gained a lot of insight into how different businesses use KPIs. And I’ve seen some businesses get pretty excited once they start measuring them.

A few years ago, my other business, Direct Marketing Software, implemented an online fundraising system for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation (FNQHF). It was a completely automated system that enabled people to sign up and set themselves a fundraising challenge. Then they used social media, email and other techniques to sign up friends and colleagues who set their own challenges and/or offered financial support.

The day after the website went live, I arrived in Cairns to train their staff in the system. By the time I got there, they’d already signed up nearly 100 fundraisers and raised more than $6000. It had all been done automatically by the website, and the money had already been receipted, cleared and deposited in the bank account. Go team!

Additionally, by the time I got there, the staff had worked out how to to use the software’s reporting tools to see how many people had signed up and how much revenue had been raised.

Throughout the day, my training was regularly interrupted by operators surreptitiously logging into the system to check out how much money they’d raised now and then…now and then…and now!

With this enthusiasm for KPI monitoring, it made sense that the FNQHF became one of the first businesses to adopt Bizeo. They love that they can see their figures where they’re in the office, as well as on their mobile phone, tablet and home PC.

However, more recently, I’ve discovered another group of people who love having current stats available to them 24/7 – event managers.

Event registration – the all-important KPI

Events live or die by one just KPI – how many people have registered. In event management, most marketing, venue and staff costs are relatively fixed, so event registration is the one variable that uniquely determines an event’s success or failure.

Event managers want to track what happens to registrations after every email blast, piece of PR in the paper and blog post. It’s a fixation for them and rightly so!

Of course, you can often go into your event management software and run a report or access a dashboard somewhere. But these simple KPIs aren’t always readily available; you have to access the system, log in, navigate the menus and run the report.

What if you run lots of events simultaneously? Imagine keeping track of all those registrations!

Why event managers love Bizeo

Bizeo ensures that it’s very simple for you to track this all-important KPI – and access it from your smartphone 24/7. You can also set Bizeo to alert you when you achieve a certain attendance level (e.g. breakeven or maximum attendance level).

Finally, there’s another great advantage of Bizeo – while you’re fixating on that one KPI, Bizeo is quietly monitoring all the other KPIs around your business. It tracks every system and location, only interrupting your busy day if something isn’t right.

Every event manager I’ve shown it to loves the idea and many are already using it. You can still use Bizeo for free for an unlimited time, so you can just try it for your next event and let me know how you go.

P.S. If we don’t have a package available for your particular event management system, let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

Manual KPIs – the key to business monitoring

In my last blog post, I discussed how vital it is that businesspeople monitor their stress levels and I explained how I track such a qualitative indicator using a manual KPI.

As the concept of the ‘manual KPI’ is so important in Bizeo and is the key to monitoring what’s really going on in your business, I thought I’d spend more time on the concept.

What is a manual KPI?

Some KPIs can’t just be generated automatically from a database or other system. They need to be calculated or determined by a human. We refer to these as manual KPIs.

Different types of manual KPIs can include:

  • a point-of-sale environment, where you want to track the length of queues at the checkout
  • qualitative items, such as satisfaction or stress levels
  • any KPI that requires human calculation or where the source data hasn’t been stored electronically (e.g. you can only know how much of your week you spent on a specific project if you kept detailed timesheets)
  • figures derived from a computer system that can’t be, or hasn’t yet been, interfaced with Bizeo.

How to set up a manual KPI

When you set up a manual KPI in Bizeo, it will send a regular automated email to the person who will produce that KPI (which doesn’t have to be you). They click on the link in that email and a sheet opens up into which they enter the details. It’s that simple.

To set up a manual KPI in Bizeo:

1. Go to Edit Mode

Edit mode

2. Add a new task.

Add task
3. For Drone, select ‘Bizeo Cloud Drone’.
4. For Data Source, select ‘Manual KPI’.
5. For KPI, select  ‘Manual KPI’.
6. Enter the email address of the person who’ll be entering the KPI.
7. Type the header and body of the email that they’ll receive.
8. Specify other parameters, including the checking period (i.e. how often you want to receive the email).

Add task2
Once saved, Bizeo will send an email to the address you’ve specified every checking period. The email looks similar to the one below.

email
When the operator clicks on the link, they’ll be taken to an entry screen like the one below. They just fill in the new value and click ‘Update’.

update manual kpi
Now you know how to track even more of your business KPIs than just what’s available via a database.

One final hint

Manual KPIs are great for personal KPIs as well. You can monitor things like your weight, times for your fitness objectives, the number of hours you spend at work each day, and even how satisfied you are with your own or your team’s performance.

The options are endless once you start thinking about it.

If you don’t have Bizeo yet, you can now get a get a free Bizeo subscription for an unlimited time and monitor up to 20 KPIs. I challenge you to come up with all 20! Let me know how you go.

Managing stress in business

Lessons from weight management

Years ago, I read that people who weigh themselves regularly have far more success in managing their weight than those who don’t. It’s as if the practice of being focused and aware of your current state gives you the information and impetus you need to meet your goals.

I’ve actually been recording my weight in Bizeo for some time, using a manual KPI, and I’d agree. Not only knowing my weight but seeing its trend over time has been really beneficial. It’s given me a greater understanding of my health as I get older.

Stressed out business owners

Recently, I decided to extend this experiment to measuring my stress levels.

The more business owners I speak to, the more I realise that stress is a massive problem in business. So often, we forget to look after ourselves, especially our stress levels. Many people can’t cope if they don’t receive a regular pay cheque, yet business owners face the daily uncertainties of business income and expenses to provide those steady pay cheques. We need to keep our heads when those around us panic about new challenges or uncertainties. And the personal crises of friends and family often end up on our shoulders as well.

Not to mention that the usual remedy for stress relief—taking a holiday—is one of the more stressful things you can do as a business owner (if you don’t have Bizeo!). You’re away from the office, your finger is off the pulse and things aren’t getting done without you there. And then there’s the enormous pile of work that ambushes you when you step back through the door.

Feeling stressed?

Measuring stress

To start measuring my stress levels, I developed a rough guide to what determined stress levels at various points on a scale from 1 to 10. Then I started using another daily KPI so that, when Bizeo sends me a daily email asking for my weight, it also asks for my current stress level.

At first, I thought this would be a gimmicky exercise. After all, I understand my stress levels very well after:

  • spending nearly 26 years in business
  • being the single parent of a teenage daughter
  • facing (many times!) the various personal and business crises that challenge us all from time to time.

I didn’t think I’d learn anything new—but I did.

Advantages of stress management

I learned that, just as weighing yourself regularly keeps you focused on your weight, recording your stress levels and seeing their history has a similar effect on stress. While this, in itself, doesn’t reduce the stress, it does keep you focused on what you need to do to keep the KPI within a tolerable range. After all, this is the fundamental promise of Bizeo.

This focus also helps you see trends and adds that extra mental impetus to do something positive when your stress levels have been high for too long or are trending in the wrong direction.

I’d definitely recommend trying this for yourself.

Try Bizeo for free

Of course, you don’t need Bizeo for this—you could easily do it in Excel (though Excel won’t email you each day to remind you!).

However, if you’d like try it in Bizeo, you can get a free subscription that allows you to monitor up to 20 KPIs. (We’ve just removed the 30-day limit on the free version, so there’s no excuse not to try it!)

Read instructions on setting up a manual KPI.

But no matter how you do it, please do take the time to do something for yourself. We need all our businesspeople to stay healthy and strong.

And, as always, please let me know how you go. You can comment below or leave a post on our Facebook page.

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