When & How to say “Good Riddance” to Useless Metrics


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The morning office routine is pretty standard in most industries. You go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, stop by a few friendly desks, check your emails and log into your dashboards to check how the business is doing. Chances are, you skim through the dashboards and only look at those KPIs or charts that interest you because your screen is cluttered with entirely too much information. Is it all really relevant to you? Or can some of it be cut out? How exactly can we get rid of useless metrics? Below are two easy steps to help you think about how to go about it.

Think about what it is you need to measure

Your KPIs should be tied to a business goal. For example, if you’re an ecommerce organization and your goal is to have less than two percent of at-risk parcels, there should be metrics in place to identify the number of online orders placed against the number of parcels that are at risk of not meeting the expected delivery date. This dashboard will allow the business to track progress and monitor, but also action, those at-risk parcels before they are outside of the service level agreement. Receiving those parcels on time will create a better consumer experience and likely a repeat customer.

Oftentimes, we keep things for the sake of keeping them because “that’s the way it’s always been”, or the thought that it will come in handy one day keeps it alive. Here’s a tip: Much like clothes, if you haven’t used it in over two years, it’s time to part ways. Perhaps two years is quite a long time for your business, but set norms based on relevant factors. For example, if you’re reporting at a daily frequency, two years might seem like an eternity, but this is not so for quarterly reporting structures. Additionally, consider how frequently your objectives shift and act accordingly.

Create the right dashboards

It’s important to have accurate, consistent and widely understood definitions for metrics. This will help you to understand the behavior of your consumers as well as allow you to make sound business decisions centered around data.

A major reason data is often pushed to the side by those who really should be using it, is that they simply don’t understand it. So before your team mentally checks out at the sight of yet another table, it’s a good idea to know your audience. Also remember that data requirements will differ based on who needs the information. A senior vice president will likely need a high-level dashboard, whereas a manager will need more granular details. In order to get buy-in from cross-functional business owners, make sure you’re addressing not only their profile, but also their personal data consumption preferences. For example, your beautiful pie chart dashboards are useless if your audience prefers contextually rich KPIs. Most people want to be a part of the data building process so they understand what the KPIs mean to them and the business. Therefore, involving them at the early stages of conceptualization can mean greater commitment to acting on their data in the long run.

Most of all, dashboards need to be engaging. If your audience doesn’t have buy in, you simply can’t expect them to act on the data they provide, rendering them ineffective.

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Rosa Ruiz

Customer Success Manager at Sweespot. With an extensive experience in working with retail clients, Rosa is an expert on the ins and outs of eCommerce reporting and optimization.

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