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PHOTO: Rhett Wesley

Managers are under pressure to track anything and everything that goes on in the digital workplace using metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators). However, the challenge many organizations face is not a lack of metrics, but rather a need for more useful metrics and an understanding of how to deploy them to have a meaningful impact on your organization.

Metrics and KPIs that lack a strategic relationship to company goals will only drain resources and time. A metric’s ability to provide ROI and impact an organization is dependent on its response to goals and relevance to the KPIs. An organization that is able to properly implement and take advantage of metrics will be able to optimize operations and ultimately achieve a stronger workforce. 

Here are three steps to setting up the right metrics for your digital workplace and, in return, ensuring the success of your business.

Define Digital Workplace Business Goals and Plan

The initial key to any digital workplace’s success is defining overall business goals and the strategy to implementing them. Without goals, it’s difficult to determine the metrics that should be tracked, and therefore, how to track them. Goals should be set up for both short-term and long-term periods. Having weekly or monthly goals allows employees to focus on the task at hand, while having yearly goals and even five to 10 year goals helps them keep the bigger picture in mind. Once you determine your goals, creating a realistic timeline will help to establish successful completion.

As an article in Entrepreneur puts it, “A business plan can be used for several things, from monitoring your company's progress toward goals to enticing key employees to join your firm. Deciding how you intend to use yours is an important part of preparing to write it.”

One tip to keep in mind when outlining business goals is to always include smaller, incremental goals along the way. For example, an organization aiming to increase employee productivity by 20% within one year could break that into 5% quarterly checkpoints. Not only does this put less pressure on the end objective, but it ensures the overall strategy stays on track and gets completed.

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Analyze KPIs

Once you’ve defined the goals, the next step is translating them into KPIs.

While KPIs are different for every business, they’re the most important metric to analyzing the performance and health of your digital workplace. So what’s the key to successfully deploying them? You must be able to measure them — and everyone in your business needs to measure them the same way. Deciding what it is exactly that you’re going to measure differs from company to company and aligns closely with the chosen business goals. A measurement can be number of customers, number of sales, or total revenue. 

Metrics are important, but until you start making comparisons, they are simply numbers. According to this Adaptive Insights blog, “A metric is typically a combination of two or more measures, such as the number of customers over time or the total revenue over time. Metrics illustrate whether the values are good or bad and can help with financial forecasting and benchmarking.”

Take efficiency for example. Often times leadership uses the efficiency of employees as a KPI. Say you just implemented a new project management system. After about a month or so of full use, it’s time to evaluate the efficiency of your employees. Has it helped them increase productivity? Or has it been a challenge to adopt and ended up hurting production in the long run? Whether it’s been a valuable implementation or not, the takeaway here is to consistently be analyzing those KPIs and business goals and reset them when necessary. Being in the digital workplace, strategies are always changing which means your business goals and KPIs should be too.

Whichever path you’re taking, remember that change takes time. Thanks to today’s technology-driven society, tools such as workforce management solutions and built-in analytical dashboards make the process for change and adoption easier by enabling continuous monitoring of business performance.

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Establish an Implementation Team

Once your business goals and KPIs are set in place, it’s time to assemble a team that will consistently monitor those metrics and ensure your digital workforce is on the right track. This team is responsible for conducting an analysis of current business trends and resetting your goals when necessary.

An optimal way of populating this team is selecting people that occupy influential roles throughout the organization. Choosing members from different departments, such as project management and IT or web development, will give you a diverse set of viewpoints for how to tackle the project. By giving the implementation team the chance to troubleshoot, they’ll eventually be able to anticipate the challenges and growing pains your business may face — and, as an added bonus, you’ll have a team of individuals who are experts at knowing your business goals, strategy and KPIs.

One important question to consider is how the size of your digital workplace impacts your ability to transition to new systems and metrics.

Small- to medium-size organizations will be nimble and able to adopt new ideas and software quicker than most. While their agility makes the transition more seamless, they also have fewer employees to tap to take on the task of creating new strategies and implementing new technology.

For large organizations, utilizing an implementation team is especially helpful. A company with thousands of employees spread across dozens of departments and multiple time zones will require a significant amount planning in order to ensure full deployment.

No matter the size of your digital workforce, having key strategists to implement and track metrics will help for a smoother transition and allow for critical feedback.

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A Plan for Future Growth

Setting up metrics that coincide with your digital workplace allows you to improve overall results and align your people with your process and organizational objectives. By setting attainable goals, analyzing them on a regular basis and selecting the right KPIs for your organization, you can track the meaningful metrics that will further the growth of your company for years to come.