An important part of moving any company to new levels of performance is measuring progress.  One of the first things I ask a client for is current metrics and the reports they use to run their business.  All too often I get a spreadsheet and am told that there is all the data I could want there.  And that is usually correct.

    But no one wants a spreadsheet to run their business.  Executives in each area of the company need one-page dashboards to look at their business health and monitor performance.

    For store owners that may mean a page that reports their transaction count and change versus year ago and plan, average ring and change versus year ago and plan, labor hours and run rate versus budget, operating costs and margin run rates.  Assuming there is a decent budget, the owner can look at that and determine if the store is running within a safe boundary or if there is a specific area that needs deeper analysis.

    For a functional area (merchandising, supply chain, promotions, HR) there are key health indicators that should be monitored on a weekly or monthly basis.  Decision support resources, IT, finance or analysts who are NOT providing a one-page summary to the executives they support need to make this an immediate priority.

    It is an old saying that winners keep score.  KPI’s, operational metrics and other measurements are critical to keeping score.  But no one needs to see the score for every SKU/Store/Week juncture.  An inability to summarize to meaningful enterprise metrics is just as detrimental to the business as the inability to drive metrics down to actionable levels.  Both have their place, but far too many companies continue to operate at the executive level with granular reporting that keeps conversations too tactical to change the business trajectory.

    If you have a strategic role, ask yourself if you have visibility to strategic reporting.  If you do, then ask yourself how many different reports would you have to look at to find those metrics.  Pull together the METRICS THAT MATTER onto one piece of paper.  Use a scissor, tape and a copier if you have to – but get what matters onto ONE PAGE.  (Yes, this is YOUR job – do not delegate that.) Give that to your team and tell them not to come back until you can have that report delivered regularly.

    Until you do, you can expect to continue to be frustrated by the lack of forward progress on driving new levels of performance.