The 6 Rights of Accountability

Great accountability occurs when a company is able to get it right with

1. Vision / Mission – Visions do not change very often, but the mission may change more often to fit the vision. Of course for very successful businesses the vision may evolve – think of The Marlin company that started out making guns, shifted to safety and now delivers world class corporate communications

2. People – People grow and so do companies. Based on the other factors the fit for those people may change as well.

3. Process – Long-term success demands process. The challenge with process is to maintain the leadership quality and/or innovation that lead to the past success when create structure via the process.

4. Goals / KPI’s – When a company has the right vision, team and process, success is soon to follow. This success can be many things but probably means increased sales, higher quality or higher profits. Setting the right goal and then finding true leading indicators is a powerful tool to manage the activities needed to achieve the defined goal(s).

5. Teamwork – Accountability can be accomplished individually, but it is very limited. Great accountability is typically associated with a team. Trust, respect, cooperation and frank communication are characteristics that make accountability work.

6. Tracking – Great tracking means accurate information is derived through the standard operations to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Life cycle of accountability

The funny thing is that fixing one of the rights may change the answer to a different right. Think about entreprenuers. They get things started but often are not the right people later. They may start without a lot of rules. The process is inspiration and hard work. With success, more process and structure may be right. Likewise, the wrong person without a clear process may be the right person once the right process in in place.

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Convenience Store Performance Dashboards – Data Analytics Using Filters

One of the ironies of Big Data is that insights often look like just a few points of data. The ability to extract the right data from large quantities of data is one way to move toward the insights. Filtering data into groups is a technique that allows related information to highlight a big trend in a particular group that may be hidden when viewed in a larger set of data. For example, key relationships for top sales performance can be lost when looking at summary data of all stores regardless of their relative sales performance. By using simple statements such as ‘Stores with a 5% increase in sales in the last week’ an analyst needs no database knowledge to extract sets of data to view and study that data that best fits his performance criteria. The goal of any dashboard is to show performance intuitively. By adding simple statement s, C-Store operators can look at key data groups to understand what is causing both good and bad performance.

Combining grouping filters along with other selections such as date range, regions, districts and stores allows interesting sets of data to be analyzed with little effort. Examples of filters that can be used for C-Store Analysis include:

  • Sales changes over a time (day, week, month, quarter or year)
  • Categories (e.g., rural, urban or suburban)
  • Traffic flow
  • Seasonally dependent (e.g., Summer versus Winter)
  • Staff Turn-over
  • Management experience

Adding new groupings with understandable criteria enables different views to be studied. Once an analytical tool is in place, it is a simple process to add new criteria. Slicing performance data is a powerful way to understand important performance information. Getting results quickly improves performance and identifies other things to study. It is a simple process to add additional filters to a dashboard to continue to dissect and better understand key performance trends.

The C-Store Performance Dashboard combines unique analytical grouping filters with the standard filters such as date range, region, district, and store to provide a simple method of business analytics. C-Store operators need not have extensive technology or Big Data skills to spot trends. Tracking and Accountability for Convenience Store Performance is enabled with a ready-to-use dashboard that presents information the way C-Store operators think and work.

Establishing a powerful dashboard for business analytics does require strong technology skills. The process need not be overly time-consuming or hard to use, however.  It is a straight forward process to extract and transform data from the mainstream C-Store systems such as ADD Systems, PDI/Enterprise, DataMax Envoy, Factor Store Trak or most other commercial systems. Pentaho CTools is a great product to build dashboards and enable them to work with any data source and allow for easy modifications.

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KPI Tracking – When did you start?

Preliminary results regarding how long companies have been tracking their KPI’s are in. The BandyWorks Tracking Key Performance Indicators survey is still active. This survey will collect information on how companies are using KPI’s for tracking and accountability.  Please spend 2-3 minutes to take the survey and see the full results!

 

 

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Accountability Data – Balancing – Simple, Complete and Automated

Accountability works well when Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) used are simple, automated and complete. Good results happen when two of the three are in place and used consistently. Great results happen when all three occur. Some argue that it is impossible to accomplish all three in a large organization as it is not simple to automate KPI’s that provide complete results. The closer one comes to a balance of these three factors, the better the results for the investment in the KPI system.

 

 

Simple

Using KPI’s that a team understands are accurate indicators of performance greatly increase their accountability and thus performance. The fewer the items that are tracked the simpler the communication process for using the KPI’s. Additionally, the fewer the number of KPI’s used, the simpler it is to explain and justify. Understanding is often deemed essential to team buy-in. There is much debate about the reasons that accountability improves performance, but there is little debate that simple trumps complex when addressing the communication to those that participate.

Complete

Simplicity, however, will not allow team buy-in if there is not a adequate representation of the performance that is indicative of success. Looking at sales alone without consideration of the cost of sale of the quality of service may not provide a long-term measurement of success. Others may counter, however, that long term tracking of sales does consider quality and costs as only profitable and quality sales are sustainable. If KPI usage is going to be a trending tool to suggest change, then early information is essential. It may be that a ratio of multiple KPI’s can be formed to provide a simple presentation, but may have a complex process to gather and calculate.

In a survey by BandyWorks , 76% of the companies reported using 2-10 KPI’s, while 10% reported using more than 10 measurements. Finding the right number, need not be a onetime judgment. As tracking is used, performance results will show which indicators are best. For companies without any KPI’s in place, it may be better to start with a few extra if the collection burden is reasonable and then fine-tune after results are determined.  Of course, accuracy must be considered or the determination cannot occur with meaning.

Automated

While measuring important results is critical to performance management, time spent tracking instead of performing one’s main task is not time spent producing. Ideally, measurements result from the natural execution of work. More likely, systems are created that capture performance metrics as part of the process (e.g., gallons of gas sold, POS sales results, pounds of product produced from a machine). Many times, however key tracking information such as phone calls, sales visits, web site visits have limited automation to record and consolidate with other KPI’s.

Top performers usually believe in tracking and want great accountability, but few of best prefer manual recording of information. Not only is it time consuming, it is has potential for inconsistent, untimely and inaccurate results. Automation should be used when it has the ability to provide an increase in accuracy, faster results or less labor. Of course, such systems require an investment and have risks of completion. A good management and IT team should be able to create processes with automation that provide accurate results at a price that returns value in a reasonable amount of time. Of course, many consider the cost of not having such a system in place when they allocate funds. Typically, those companies that are growing and have distributed locations, machines or people are those with high justification for automation.

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