Several years ago the term “KPI” was enough to make my heart stop.

As a marketer, our job is to report on a number of things, from how many visitors come to the website to the click-through percentage an email receives to how many leads we are cultivating for our sales team monthly, if not weekly. Some of these metrics are easy to get; a quick visit to Google Analytics, for example, spells out pretty much everything I need to know about website performance.

But several years ago, when I was leading a digital marketing agency, we had no way to efficiently report on our client relationships, client deliverables, inbound marketing efforts or project profitability, among other things. Every report was custom. Each month what we reported on changed. The days were filled creating one-off Word, Excel and PPT presentations for upper management and… worse… for our clients. And so, the term “KPI” became my kryptonite.

I knew there was a better way to report out other than color-coded Word documents and lackluster PPTs. It pained me every single time we sent spreadsheets to our clients, delineating all the work we had done for them to date. But we simply didn’t have the tools and technologies to improve the process. (It was after all 2013—a time when HubSpot marketing automation and Salesforce had just begun to pique the interest of marketers).

So each week looked pretty similar. My team would send me Outlook emails reporting on how they were consuming their billable hours, I would create unconsumable Word docs to review with my supervisor, my team would copy and paste information into Excel spreadsheet for clients, I would log into three different systems a day to get information on one client… and so on and so forth.

It was painful, tedious and wholly inefficient.

And I did nothing to fix it.

It’s not that I didn’t know how to fix it. I knew a few things we needed to do like: free ourselves from Excel hell by investing in a reporting tool like Tableau; integrate our custom email marketing platform with our WordPress website; tap our IT team to help us create a single source of client truth, and many other things. But like most leaders, “the other work” got in the way. I had so many other balls in the air, and since we were “getting by,” I let the manual madness continue.

Looking back, I realize now that as the Marketing leader, I should have raised the flag to my boss to say, “There is a more efficient way to produce reports on our agency efficacy and profitability.” I should have built the business case for what “that way” would look like—from the technologies we should invest in to the business intelligence solutions we should explore.

But I didn’t. And you may be finding yourself in a similar boat.

Right now, you may be thinking, “What’s my broken process,” or the one process in your department or organization that is no longer serving you? The one process that keeps you up at night as you know it is bleeding money, time and effort right out of your organization. It may seem daunting to call this broken process to the mat, but it’s the very thing you need to do as a change-oriented leader.

As you begin to raise the flag to improve, upend or replace this process, consider:

  • The Cost of Continuing ‘As Is’: Start running some numbers to get a feel for the urgency around this broken process. In looking back, I can see now that my team spent an inordinate amount of time generating one-off reports—probably about 25% of their billable hours a week. We were also unable to derive the maximum ROI of our marketing and sales platforms due to a lack of systems integration.
  • The Technology Piece: Many times broken processes exist because organizations are either using legacy technologies or relying on new-age technologies that don’t speak to one another. When evaluating the impact of your process, consider how technology can play a critical role in the solution. Sometimes an integration, custom add-on or business intelligence solution can remedy the problem at hand. For instance, if you have an employee who is manually pulling executive level dashboards monthly, leveraging a tool like Tableau or Power BI—and ensuring your data sources are all integrated—can greatly improve your reporting process.
  • Your Leadership Currency: Today’s business climate favors the leader who is a change champion—trailblazing in the innovation sphere, instead of being the laggard. As you continue operating “the way it’s always been done,” consider the negative affect this has on your leadership currency. Instead of being the leader who lets the problem persist, be the leader who raises the flag, explores a better way and marches towards that path. Be the leader who inspires others in your company to also do better.

Ready to start tackling that broken process in your organization but unsure of where to start? Drop us a line here. In a collaborative session we will explore your existing environment, hopes for a better future, and review how technology, integrations and business intelligence play a critical role in helping you reach that better end state.

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