Driving your operational excellence to the top!

2016 is not very far away.It’s the perfect time to think about New Year's resolutions. What about driving your operational excellence to the top?

Operational excellence is a major element of organizational leadership.

It involves the application of a variety of principles, systems and tools toward the sustainable improvement of key performance metrics. But more than that, it is a continuous improvement journey, a philosophy, a culture, and data is its catalyst. Once the journey has been defined from mapping current and future stakes to creating the framework and execution plan, you need to identify which data can be quickly retrieved to track your efforts and help you generate performance.

This goal has two core principals: First, data and KPI’s need to be accessible everywhere and visible by everyone, this is what we call a Data Democratization! Second, measurement and data are here to track your efforts and alert you when strange events or wrong behaviors occur. We call this a Data Continuous Improvement.

When these two elements are reunited, we can then talk about operational excellence, offering to all your teams the real vision of your business. You can let them track what is good and what is wrong with only one purpose : to improve your business and efficiency.

Stay updated and learn more on Captain Dash, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our blog.

Written by: Bertrand Verret, Chief Revenue Officer at Captain Dash

Mobile dashboards and efficiency

For years businesses have worked with and focused on desktop dashboards but given the increased mobility and rise in the use of tablets versus PCs in recent years the mobile dashboard has come into the spotlight. While this is but of course a natural progression, the part where things get sticky is how mobile dashboards are created.

Dashboards imported over from the PC version

This is the cheapest way to create a mobile dashboard. Here the dashboard is literally imported over from the computer version as a picture or opens up in a web browser. The user has to scroll on the device to be able to view the entire dashboard!

This is also the worst way of creating a mobile dashboard if the goal is an efficient dashboard.

Squeezing a dashboard meant for a computer screen in to a phone or tablet screen results in what one can only call abstract art.

Dashboards in pieces or Dashboardlets

A dashboardlet can best be described as an independent screen created for a mobile device which when combined with others like it forms a full screen dashboard for a computer.

While this method is better than the previous one it still does not create what one can call a complete dashboard experience on either device. The reason being that while it is created for a mobile device it still has constraints due to the fact that it needs to be fitted on to a computer.

A mobile native Dashboard

The rarest of all three and by far the most efficient is the mobile native dashboard. This dashboard is designed to the specifications of a given mobile device – tablet or phone.

It is completely separate from a computer or web dashboard even if it utilizes the same data sources.

The real estate on a dashboard is considered rather precious but that of a mobile dashboard is even more so. By choosing dashboards especially created for such a space, organizations can maximize the ROI on a mobile dashboard.

In this age of instant gratification not only does a mobile native dashboard make navigating a dashboard on such a device intuitive for a user but, as the Captain Dash team has observed, makes it as quick and as fun as any other mobile app.

Written By: Meghna Verma

Love that KPI, but let it go!

There is a saying that if you love something let it go, if it comes back it was meant to be. Sometimes companies tend to latch on to their KPIs for too long. The question is how long is too long? There are three ways to figure out if it is time to let go of a KPI:

The KPI has achieved a target and is stagnant

KPIs are meant for measuring very specific metrics and should have specific goals that define the purpose of the KPI. The basic idea behind this is to put into place improvement measures that help the team to achieve those goals. But, the fact is that not everything can be improved upon forever.

For some KPIs when they reach their goals the organization needs to take a step back and ask whether they are a priority anymore or not. If these KPIs have a lower priority since they have achieved their goals as opposed to KPIs that are still in progress then it is time to let those KPIs go.

It is better to pour resources into things that actually need to be improved instead of trying to improve something that has already reached the desired level of improvement.

Change of strategy

As a company grows and changes there are bound to be changes in the strategy and future goals. If the organization has a set of strong, well performing KPIs then their KPIs will be well aligned with their goals and strategies. As changes come about some of these KPIs will no longer be in alignment with the new strategies.

If a KPI no longer aligns with the goals of an organization or a team then it needs to be let go to make space for one that does.

Usefulness

Choosing KPIs is a science but also an art. There are times when a chosen KPI does not measure up to the expectations a team may have had. In the case where a KPI is found to not serve its purpose or found to affect other areas negatively it needs to be let go.

Letting go of KPIs does not mean to just discard them. It means that they do not have a place on your dashboard for the moment.

When letting go of a KPI the best practice is to archive the KPI so that it can be retrieved as and when needed.

Written By: Meghna Verma

 

Why Startups Need Dashboards

When one hears ‘business dashboard’, one thinks of executives and decision makers from big fortune 500 companies, banks, consulting firms and startups! Wait, startups? Yes, I did say startups.

Captain Dash is a startup and to top that we are a startup, which creates dashboards focused towards operational excellence. It seems rather obvious that we would use dashboards within the company.

Today, I would like to explain why we feel that dashboards are important for all startups and not just us.

Startups operate in a very dynamic environment and they usually rely on the data they produce to help them stay on course as they navigate through clients, legal issues, innovation and investors, among other things.

Relying on data is one thing but just because we are a startup it doesn’t mean we should not have solid metrics that we turn towards on a regular basis. Dashboards help us track our activity as linked to our goals – short and long term. We depend on them, we hold ourselves responsible by them and they motivate us.

A startup’s resources, both human and non-human, are often meagre and very precious. These resources need to be aligned along the correct axes and that is where dashboards come in.

Our dashboards help us figure out what to focus on to attain operational excellence. Where to put in our sales efforts, how our marketing efforts are performing, in which direction does the development team need to go and where do we stand with regards to our goals.

A startup goes through various phases of growth initially and unlike bigger, well-established companies the main thing to keep in mind is that objectives will change with time and all the metrics need to be decided within that context. These metrics may take some time to determine and need to be reviewed regularly.

For example, in the beginning the goal is to create a product that brings value to the client. All metrics need to be chosen with this goal in mind. But once the product has been created and released some of those metrics need to be reviewed in order to cater to the new goal of getting clients. I say some, because the product cannot be put in the back seat and needs to keep evolving with clients’ needs.

Another area dashboards help us with is investors.

As a startup chances are good that you need funding and you need to woo investors. You have the projected revenue curve going up like a check mark with your business plan. But, investors look at many other factors like risk, market, expenditures, etc. A dashboard that measures all these factors with open data and your own data can serve as a much better personal indicator for you to make sure that you understand fully where your company stands. You can work towards reducing risks and creating a better positioning.

From one startup to another we would love to hear if you use dashboards and why or why not.

Written By: Meghna Verma

Micro Services - Preparing for the Transition

We have often talked about how working with Micro Services brings about changes at many levels in an organization. Today we will tackle the how to prepare for these changes to come and the transition can be made smoother.

The 3 main things to consider are services, dev-ops coordination and security.

Services:

Aside from changing network speed and construction, Micro Services tend to have a huge effect on the services associated with the applications. Given the loose coupling necessary to obtain a functional Micro Services architecture the dev and operations teams need to divide their network services between those directly associated with applications and those that are not.

Service discovery needs to be implemented as well. The tool used for this needs to be equally dynamic on and off cloud. The service discovery has a direct impact on your infrastructure since it affects how the services interact.

In addition to all this the rise of containerization services has led to a need for compatible management services to make the workflow smoother.

Dev-Ops coordination:

Making the transition to Micro Services is not especially easy on teams and because of this the development and operations teams need to work in synchronization to facilitate this transition.

Ideally in a Micro Services structure exclusively one team from start to finish handles each application, but often, if your team is small this does not happen. Instead the team is handling multiple applications and sometimes working with other teams. In such a scenario the operations and development schedules need to be synched to perfection to make for smooth deployment.

Security:

Security is not something one thinks of first hand when considering transitioning to Micro Services. The biggest advantage of this infrastructure is the agility it affords and every malicious attack that your security blocks, is one less stress on your application. Thus, a sound security system helps your applications to perform stress free and with the required agility.

To stay updated with our series on Micro services architecture follow us on twitter or subscribe to our blog.

Written By: Meghna Verma

The KPI Curse

KPIs have a way of turning many organizations on their heads. Sometimes this happens because there are too many KPIs and too much data being gathered but often times it is because KPIs are misunderstood.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator with the emphasis being on indicator though people often tend to put the emphasis on performance. Due to this, KPIs more often than not become very closely entangled with targets.

At Captain Dash when we consult with our clients over KPIs we advice them to narrow their KPIs down to metrics that are closely related to the global goals of the organization.

By this we mean that KPIs are not the goals themselves; instead they are indicators of said goals. For us, KPIs help us to measure certain data points that help us to determine the progress made towards achieving our goals and delivering on our key priorities. This thus implies that KPIs indicate whether we are on track or not. They exist to provide objective information, which helps us to strategize better.

If on the other hand when one uses KPIs as targets they end up as short-term numbers to be achieved by departments and just serve as a scorecard more than anything else.

There is of course a reason why KPIs and targets get mixed up together. Other than the fact that they are both metrics there is the fact that for KPIs to work they need targets or benchmarks. It is very easy to see these targets as the targets that the organization or departments need to achieve.

Do not let them confuse you, these benchmarks serve as a reference point to see if we are on track and how much adjustment is needed, if any, in our strategy.

If you use KPIs are the indicators they are meant to be and let them guide your strategy they end up as very powerful tools to guide improvements across the organization.

On the other hand, an indicator that you could implement to measure progress could be the Key Transformation Indicator or KTIs.

Written By: Meghna Verma