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KPI Metrics Tracking & Reporting: Everything You Need to Know

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Justin Reynolds, Contributor

November 4, 2022

NaN minute read

kpi reporting

Companies need to track key performance indicators, or KPIs, to understand how they’re performing against goals for growth, revenue, retention, and important metrics. But many aren’t equipped to ingest, transform, and visualize the large quantities of data from multiple sources that’s required to accurately track common KPIs today.   

Data-driven companies make a clear, ongoing effort to engrain analytics into every process and decision. To do this, they measure and track KPIs differently than the average organization—keep reading to learn how to implement modern KPI metrics tracking in your workflows.

What are key performance indicators (KPIs)?

A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measurement of how well your team or business is meeting its strategic goals. Types of KPIs vary: companies set KPIs based on measurable targets for things like acquisition, retention, revenue, and other growth indicators, while teams may set department-specific KPIs that aim to further company-wide ones.

The number of KPIs you choose to track is less important than whether you and your stakeholders believe they will clarify and further your overarching goals around sales team performance, churn rate, customer satisfaction, and other key business processes. 

What is a KPI dashboard?

KPI dashboards typically group KPI data by strategic goal or business function. They bring together analytics on different performance indicators to give stakeholders an overview of the organization’s health. 

The most accurate and comprehensive KPI dashboards are built by data teams equipped with powerful business intelligence platforms, but designed for the average business user to use without experience as a data analyst. Data is piped from sources like the company’s website, apps, accounting system, and marketing tools then loaded into a data warehouse using an ETL tool like FiveTran or Stitch. Users can then visualize and explore it using reports and dashboards on a modern BI platform like Mode.

Company KPI dashboards: why “North Star” metrics matter

Company-wide KPIs set the bar for all of the more granular goals that drive them. To build North Star company KPI dashboards, data teams must be able to centralize data from dozens or even hundreds of sources, normalize and transform it, and use it to create easily understood self-serve data that tells everyone how well the company is performing.  

Company KPI dashboards provide enough information to drive overall strategic decisions without overwhelming users with too much detail. For example, a few metrics we include at Mode are spot ARR, annual customers, new customer growth, and monthly user activation rate—our team members can drill down to understand more about each dashboard item, but to make informed decisions for their department they’d need their own KPI dashboard.

North Star company KPI dashboards help inspire everyone to work toward shared goals. They can be referenced in all-hands, used to set OKRs each quarter, and even displayed in common areas to foster a data-driven culture. However, they aren’t meant to be the only source of performance data—each team should have their own customized, interactive dashboards and KPI reporting that democratizes data for every stakeholder, analyst or not.

What is KPI reporting?

Reporting on key performance indicators is the more granular, deeper exploration of data in KPI dashboards. KPI reports can no longer be static products sent monthly, quarterly, or ad hoc to stakeholders—they must be dynamic and collaborative, letting anyone analyze their data using visually appealing charts and graphs.

Take this Shopify example. The ecommerce platform uses Mode to empower everyone at Shopify with the daily data they need, using KPI reporting to free up analysts to focus on what’s further down the road instead of responding to day-to-day reporting requests.

Who should help develop KPI reporting?

Both data teams and business teams should develop KPI reporting, together. Data teams can develop KPI reporting tools and help set guidance with metrics definitions and analysis, while stakeholders incorporate their business knowledge. 

Before developing an improved KPI reporting workflow, it’s important to speak with each team lead to understand their use case, technical ability, and dependencies

Take Conde Nast, for example, a Mode customer that wanted to transform their data culture globally. The BI team used Mode to build an internal data platform, called the Mode Portal, to provide a single, organized, and searchable place for the product analytics and marketing teams do analysis and share their results. 

“Building the Mode Portal has given my team full control over how we serve the business and its data needs ” explains the company’s Senior BI Platform Manager. “Now, we make sure what we are building is not just a few users but is for everyone.”

The reports in the portal weren’t created in silos, but with product or marketing leads using the governance set up by the BI team. 

On top of collaborating with each department on reporting, data teams should also work with execs to make decisions on what metrics and reports would look like for the board, investors, shareholders, and partners.

How to start creating KPI reports

To develop KPI reporting and clean, data-driven workflows, you need a modern BI platform that can process and visualize massive quantities of data in near real time. But before you can do that, you need to get all your data in one place.   

1. Choose an ETL tool

ETL tools pipe your data from all of its various data sources to a single warehouse. They first extract data, then transform (enriching and normalizing it based on the best practices and the data team’s guardrails) and load it into the warehouse of your choosing. Read the 2022 ETL Buyer’s Guide to choose the best ETL tool for your company.

2. Build out your most important dashboards and reports

Once your data is clean and accessible in a single warehouse, the data team can get to work on the most pressing requests. Typically this means dashboards for each department. 

Users of these dashboards should be able to click into a particular metric and see underlying report data, easily share findings and visualizations, and quickly export what they need for their own reports and presentations to leadership.

3. Decide what internal data products to build

Modern, dynamic KPI tracking goes further than allowing teams to see the reporting that was initially built for them. Data teams can build powerful self-serve products (like the Conde Nast portal we mentioned) that let non-analysts access flexible, customizable reports and even build their own without SQL knowledge. This takes some time and care upfront from the data team, but pays dividends once stakeholders can find what they need on their own using their new data products.  

Time to dig in: building KPI dashboards in Mode

Once your data is piped into a data warehouse, getting started with Mode is simple. Explore your connected database with SQL queries, use advanced logic with Liquid, and create visualizations for dashboards and reporting.

Mode is powered by the Helix data engine, an instant, in-memory data engine that creates a dual backbone of modern business intelligence and interactive data science. Mode automatically streams query results into Helix so that you can visually explore faster and with less database load—it shortens waiting times from minutes to just a few seconds.

As you run queries and Helix processes them, you can add reporting elements to your dashboards and customize your visualizations using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Mode makes it easy to view historical queries, use Python and R to explore your analysis, and present KPI metrics in interactive, real-time dashboards and tools.

Socializing KPI dashboards: know your audience

Building KPI dashboards should be part of a larger initiative to instill a data-driven culture into every team in your org. There’s a reason to include stakeholders early on beyond just getting the reporting right, and that’s because you need buy-in and adoption once KPI reporting is ready to use. 

To keep people excited and feeling empowered over their newfound access to data, arrange training sessions and communicate with each team as you roll KPI reporting out. Socialize them at all-hands meetings, get department heads to lead the conversation themselves, show examples of how reporting can reduce manual work and speed up initiatives—anything to drive a sense of ownership outside the data team.

You can also keep your own KPI dashboard that tracks adoption of the reporting products you’ve rolled created. If you see a downturn in usage, preempt attrition by asking your internal users what’s holding them back.

What’s next? Future usage and implementation

Once you have a well-oiled performance tracking process in place, you should check in on a regular basis to understand what new products might be helpful for your stakeholders and their business objectives.

When data is managed in Mode, it doesn’t take long to build and fine-tune new data products. You can monitor the way employees use your dashboards, add new self-serve capabilities, and sunset features that aren’t useful. Keep increasing your data team’s bandwidth the way Stitch did by using Mode to automated reporting, collaboration, and governance. You can even take the same data used in KPI reporting and extend its value by embedding analytics into your own products or sharing it in a partner portal. 

KPI metrics tracking is a crucial part of modern business intelligence that, if done right, gets you faster insights and lessens the burden on your data team immensely. To experience how Mode streamlines KPI reporting and makes life easier, start your free trial t

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