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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Key Performance Indicators

This image is from The Dashboard Zone, a site offering "Free Dashboards, Examples, Screenshots, Tutorials, KPIs and Downloads"
Late this afternoon, I'll be at Ottawa' airport to greet Bob Kruhm from North Carolina, Chase from St. Catharines and Leslie Greenwood from Sault Ste Marie. They are all arriving on separate flights to land here between 5 and 6 pm. I'll take them to dinner at a restaurant near the airport (with Daniel Smith and my family) before dropping them off at their hotel.

They are here for the bi-annual company review/planning meeting. We have two key meetings a year; in the spring to look at where we are going overall, and in the fall, to define next year's goals and projections. These meetings of course are not inexpensive to co-ordinate. Travel and facilitation fees (Caswell Corporate Coaching Company are our facilitators) will reach close to $5,000 -- a not insignificant sum of money for our still relatively small business.

But I know these meetings are vital for the business, to help draw together the company around goals, enhance relationships, and address problems and opportunities in a timely and systematic manner.

With local employees and contractors, we'll have some 12 people in the room for three hours tomorrow -- followed by a two hour sales meeting/review. I'm going to bare the business soul; sharing its actual financial data. We'll also define our mission statement, and priorities. I will introduce the employees to the Open Book Management concept, and (I hope) we will start the process of defining some Key Performance Indicators -- the key measures we need to observe/follow to ensure business success and viability.

A few years ago, I would have thought this type of meeting to be a waste of time and money; a corporate junket using cliches and 'standard practices" that employees attended as an expense account lark. No need to sell anything; no need to do any real work; just sitting around a room thinking we are something important!

I now realize that without an organized business model and regular meetings, we fail to capture the essence of the business and its potential for success. We need cohesion coupled with individuality; rational rules of process without excessive and stifling structure. And we need the employees to work together creatively and effectively.

Do you have these types of processes for your own business? You probably should, as soon as your company reaches the point where it has a few employees (right now, the company has six employees on the payroll, along with core relationships with three key independent contractors).

Am I an expert on setting and defining the Key Performance Indicators we need to follow? Not yet -- and I want to be careful in implementing these systems, because nothing is more frustrating and wasteful in my opinion than gathering reams of data to measure something that really cannot help our business.

Here are some resources I've found on the web relating to KPI:

Sales and Marketing -- KPI Library

Dashboard Zone -- Marketing KPIs, Sales KPIs

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