Tag Archive | dashboard technology

Pitching from a mobile platform

Pitching to a group

Several of our customers and Bizeo partners have asked us about the best way to present Bizeo. Our customers want to use Bizeo to pitch data to a board, while our Bizeo partners want to pitch Bizeo data to their customers or potential customers.

One of the great things about Bizeo is that it works well on virtually any platform or device—old desktop PC, the latest Windows 8 PCs, an iPhone or iPad, or an Android phone or tablet (and even a Linux workstation, Windows 8 mobile or new BlackBerry).

However, if you’re using Bizeo to present to a group, there are a few small things you can do to make it easier.

Apart from plugging a projector into a laptop, which is the most obvious thing to do, you have a few great options for using mobile phones or tablets to present on large screens. How you do it will depend mainly on the type of platform you’re using.

Using an Apple device

If you’re using an Apple device, such as an iPhone or iPad, you can either:

  • purchase a HDMI out adapter and plug into a large screen or projector that way
  • spend $129 on an Apple TV device to wirelessly connect your Apple device to a large screen. This is possibly the best option, as it looks and works fantastically sitting at your desk with your iPad displaying wirelessly on a large screen.

Here’s a short video showing you how to do that:

http://cnettv.cnet.com/connect-iphone-ipad-ipod-touch-your-tv/9742-1_53-50151019.html

Using an Android-based device

If you have an Android-based mobile phone or tablet, there are ways you can do much the same thing. First, you can get HDMI or Micro HDMI adapters for most Android devices and some have HDMI outlets built right in to them.

You don’t need to be too envious of your Apple-fan brethren either. Many Android devices, such as my Samsung Galaxy S3, support a feature called AllShare Casting. Like the Apple devices, you need to purchase an external system that supports it. In my case, I purchased a Samsung Blu-ray player that incorporates ScreenCast support for just over $100. Many new TVs have this facility built in and the process is similar to that required for Apple devices.

Bizeo works amazingly well on the small screens of mobile platforms. No other system makes it easier to track exactly what’s going on in your business, and even retrieve and view graphs of KPI data on a small screen. But sometimes you need to share and that’s where a big screen comes in handy.

Do you have other Bizeo tips and tricks that you can share with the community? Let me know at mike@bizeo.com.au

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At the movies

This week something a little different—a movie review. The movie is the 2011 drama Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.

This movie is based on a true story. It’s the story of Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, a small major league baseball team with the third-lowest budget in the league.

Billy was tasked with winning the World Series against teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, which had many times this team’s budget.

Billy was smart enough to realise that competing against these vastly better-resourced teams on their own terms was never going to work. He needed a game changer. Literally.

When he met Peter Brand, an outspoken economist who believed that baseball could be played with a scientific methodology rather than the traditional ‘experience and gut feeling’ methodology, he took a chance—and won.

Here’s a short clip from early in the movie where these two men have just met:

http://youtu.be/qd1aZb4ORmw

And here’s another towards the end of the movie:

http://youtu.be/L-ZHLfhU4vA

Ok, so why am I doing a movie review on a business blog?

I love this movie because it highlights the shortcomings of an approach that many business owners are still using to run their businesses. And, as Peter Brand puts it, these business owners are ‘asking the wrong questions’.

Never before has the business world undergone so much change in such a short period of time. We’re now seeing entire industries being routed or transformed, and others emerging in the blink of an eye.

The game has changed. While experience is still important, knowledge and understanding of the past is not always the best preparation for the future.

If you own or run a business, go and watch Moneyball and then reflect on how you play your chosen game.

Strategy without metrics is no strategy at all

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that using KPIs to drive real improvements in business outcomes is a passion of mine. Metrics have always been important to me.

However, in the last few years in particular, I’ve been investigating how various organisations use KPIs (and when they don’t). I’ve also studied the behaviours and cultures around KPI usage, and strategies for their implementation. And I’ve seen some ineffective strategies around.

Looking at the entire sales chain

Quite often, I’ve seen businesses use metrics to measure targets, such as profitability, stock return rates and staff retention, without considering the metrics that might drive those outcomes.

To me, this shows a lack of understanding about how to develop effective business strategies—strategies that have structure and forethought likely to produce the intended income as opposed to just a measure of the result.

For example, the process of measuring sales outcomes is quite well defined. Yes, everybody looks at sales revenue and net profit. However, we analyse the entire sales chain.

Savvy managers also look at metrics such as the number of leads generated, conversion rates, time to close etc. By using this well-defined business process, professionals have learned to measure the metrics that drive the outcome, not just the outcome itself.

Unfortunately, I don’t always see this type of methodology used elsewhere.

How metrics drive your stock returns

Let’s look at another example—stock returns. Anyone who sells merchandise knows there’s a high cost associated with returned stock. In some industries, a single returned item might cost the organisation the equivalent margin of 10 or more sales!

So let’s think about the types of metrics that might drive a particular stock return level.

Perhaps:

  • the wrong products are being shipped
  • the addresses are incorrect
  • the products have a higher-than-expected failure rate
  • the products aren’t meeting the customer’s expectations.

Depending on the product, dozens of factors could be driving a high or low return rate. Yet many organisations don’t monitor these metrics effectively enough to determine the core causes or, just as importantly, help them drive change.

Another example is staff retention rates. However, I’ve saved this one for next week’s article, so keep an eye out for it.

What’s your strategy?

If you want to improve your organisation’s performance, you need to start developing a strategy to improve it and, of course, measure it. Because any strategy without metrics is usually ineffective.

Just a few things for you to think about…

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.

Death by Dashboard!

Here are some questions I’d like you to ponder:

  • Have you used dashboard technology in your business?
  • How useful did you find it overall?
  • Did you feel like you were across your business?
  • Did you have time to look at all the information you collected, let alone use it to improve business?
  • Why do you need so much information anyway?

And finally…

  • How did it all get so complicated???

Information overload

It’s official – we’re suffering from information overload. All day we’re bombarded with ads, social media, blogs, newsletters, emails and more. With all these competing distractions, we’re supposed to be across every aspect of our business. And, often, it’s not until disaster strikes (like a flood!) that we realise the truth – we’re not.

So, in recent times, we’ve implemented dashboard technology to give us all the information about our business that we could need – graphs, stats, trends and pretty colours. Except now we don’t have time to look at it, so we’re still no clearer on whether the various aspects of the business are doing ok at any given moment. Something isn’t working.

When I started out in business, it was pretty easy. If I had money in the bank and work to do, I knew everything was good. But it’s just not that simple anymore.

Now I have a massive number of KPIs to measure, including sales pipelines, websites and IT systems, customer satisfaction levels, telephone call response times, Google ad campaigns, building and network security systems, staffing levels, production rates, machine maintenance, currency exchange rates, stock values, spoilage rates and many more…

No wonder business owners are more stressed than ever. (It’s true – you can read all about it here.)

The KPI burden

The other problem for business owners is the cost of getting all these KPIs. Someone has to write a report and run it, or calculate a figure or check on a machine.

KPIs then need to be collated for management, and presented and reviewed. And most KPI reports contain not just the key metrics, but all the supporting details as well.

Graph showing with dashboards that as the number of KPIs increases, so does the effort required to get them.

This ‘KPI burden’ has caused organisations to abandon many measurement practices, and managers to stop analysing their reports and dashboards. In the last month, I’ve read at least two columns about how to prioritise and cull your KPIs down to only a handful to make them more manageable.

This isn’t the solution!

How I solved all this

Well, the solution wasn’t to give up measuring my business just because I didn’t have time. In the end, I solved the problem by inventing something brand new. (I’m in IT – it’s what I do!)

I invented a business monitoring system that could monitor hundreds of KPIs across my business BUT take me less than a second to confirm that everything’s ok. I can get more information if I need it and reassurance if I don’t. The collection processes are all automated and, no matter how many KPIs I add to it, I still have still one single indicator to check on.

Graph showing that, with Bizeo, as the number of KPIs increases, the effort required stays the same.

It’s so vital that I measure what’s going on in the business but I don’t need (more) reams of paper on my desk. I don’t want each new KPI to add more time to my day or another page to a report.

I want to know basic, but very important, things. Where are we now? What is the trend? Is everything ok? And I want to be able to check any machine (desktop, notebook, office space, tablet computer, mobile phone) to find out.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and hire an IT expert to invent something like I did. I’m so proud of Bizeo that I want everyone to use it. Don’t suffer death by dashboard anymore – let Bizeo take the stress out of your business!

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