We recently had the opportunity to talk to Jesper Juul Andersen, COO at BetterNow. Jesper shared his perspective on the importance of choosing the right metrics and told us how BetterNow tackles this challenge.
BetterNow is an online social fundraising platform for charities all over Europe. Supporters can create their own fundraiser or donate to their charity.
Reading time: 5 min.
How do you go about choosing the metrics that matter to BetterNow?
We always start with looking at the overall goals of BetterNow. In our situation, we know that what we're looking for can be found in our lagging metrics*. For example, we want to maximise the total volume of donations that goes through BetterNow, but this is not a very action-oriented goal as these are difficult to influence in the short term. Instead, we try to break down the lag metrics and turn them into lead metrics**. These metrics can for example be number of blog posts written, number of opportunities added in Salesforce, response time to support tickets, or other metrics that employees can influence on a day-to-day basis. So we start out with the big overall metrics, as they are of interest from a business intelligence perspective, and then we break them down to more useful metrics that we can act on on a daily basis.
Why did you start using Geckoboard and how were you communicating your data before?
Prior to Geckoboard we used another solution, but it was discontinued (metricly). We have always been very keen on communicating the metrics in our organisation, but until we started using Geckoboard we were struggling to find the right solution - now we’ve finally found what we were looking for! Not only is it very easy to set up, but we have more connections to all our cloud based systems than ever before. And it looks amazing on a big screen.
After you placed your Geckoboard on a big screen on the wall, did you notice any form of impact or any changes as a result of creating data openness?
Hehe, well - we still have problems with that because of our boxee and the whole Google spreadsheet memory leak thing, so it has actually been turned off most of the time. But the goal of having these metrics on the big screen is bigger employee ownership. So we are almost only showcasing lead metrics which each employee know they can influence. Having it on a big screen for everyone to see simply increase ownership of these metrics.
What do you think are the biggest challenges when building a data-driven culture?
The biggest challenge is without a doubt to identify the right metrics. This is a very difficult job, good metrics need to be aligned with the overall goal, and at the same time be metrics that employees can influence on a day-to-day basis. Don't just measure what you can measure - take the time to identify the right metrics and and then do whatever it takes to find and measure these metrics.
What advice would you give to an organisation that is trying to become more data-driven, but doesn’t necessarily know where to start?
Identify your overall goals and the metrics that best align with them. Thereafter start the process of breaking down these overall metrics into action oriented metrics that each employee can influence. To be successful you really need to take the time to do this right, as the problem with measuring and using metrics is that people change their behaviour according to it. This is a good thing if you have chosen the right metrics - but bad if you have chosen the wrong metrics. Locating the data in your organisation and in your systems, and setting up the API connections to your dashboards is the easy part - thanks to Geckoboard.
*A lagging metric is referring to an event that is currently happening, but you're not able to measure its impact until after it has happened. These metrics are normally easy to measure but hard to improve, as you can't see the result of your actions until they have happened.
**Lead metrics are trying to predict an understanding of the future. They will indicate what's most likely to happen, and by doing so they give you a chance to change the outcome.