Streamline Delivery

Make Metrics Widely Available

What do you have to hide? Secret metrics generate only suspicion and bad feelings. If the selected metrics and the data they are run against are sound, then everyone should be able to see them. This means everyone inside and outside the functional team, within the limits of confidentiality concerns and permission levels, of course. One word of caution: a well-informed individual can learn much from apparently "innocent" functional metrics, so label them as company confidential and make sure they do not leave the company.

Use Subscriptions

Ever get an unsolicited letter? Did it go straight into the recycling box? That's what happens to metrics that are forcibly dumped in users' laps. Instead, allow users to manage subscriptions to the metrics they choose to receive. A self-service approach removes most of the administrative overhead and, as long as permission levels are clearly defined, subscriptions should not interfere with the existing confidentiality requirements. Users should be able to request tailored metrics that way, metrics that show what's happening in their particular team.

Make Them Timely

Metrics should be available promptly as the measurement period ends, so for instance weekly metrics should be available on Monday mornings. Old news is incredibly less valuable than new news: old news is no news. You may need to do some manual processing to produce the more complex metrics, in particular the dashboards, but stay with the discipline of almost-instant delivery. I always vote for a basic but timely metrics over fancy but delayed reports.

Make Them Automatic

Have the metrics run automatically. For one thing, that will help make them timely, and it will also ensure that they are generated even on busy days, which are the days they are most needed. The best arrangement is to deliver an e-mail to the subscribers containing the URL of the site where the metrics can be viewed—and printed if desired. Ideally, all metrics run at a particular point in time should be presented in a single e-mail. (I have yet to see this apparently simple feature in any tracking tool, sigh!) With complicated metrics such as dashboards it's worth automating the creation process once the structure of the dashboard is fixed.

Make Tweaking Easy

Rather than trying to create perfect reports for everyone, especially for "what if" types of analyses, use so-called stub reports that allow users to enter parameters before running them so they can be tailored to the specific needs of the moment. For instance, if you have a detailed campaign success analysis report, allow the users to run it on the campaign of their choice.

Make Spreadsheet Analysis Easy

One of the most useful analysis tools is a spreadsheet. Don't pretend you can meet every need even through stub reports and plan to offer a way to dump useful data into a spreadsheet. Complete dumps are often too granular to be useful to the users (no, users do not want to wade through every account note or every case note). Try using the more popular reports as a basis for the dumps.