Technology Decision Makers

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A group for those in nonprofit IT decision-making roles to connect with peers and share best practices. This Technology Decision Makers group is for nonprofit IT or MIS Directors/Managers as well as CIOs and CTOs to connect with their peers and share best practices. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to: hardware and software management, product reviews, emerging technology, best practices, collaborating effectively with other departments, and management conundrums. Membership is restricted to IT staff at nonprofit organizations.

Reporting Services metrics

  • 1.  Reporting Services metrics

    Posted Dec 03, 2018 12:00
    ​Hello everyone,

    Last year I took over the reporting services department, along with IT.  I "rebranded" the new department the information technology and business intelligence group and added in analytics to get things up to par with the way the industry is going.  What I did not do was develop KPI's or meaningful metrics to determine overall performance.  I have my IT metrics down, but this is a new role for me.  I thought I would reach out to see how others measure their teams performance on the reporting side of the house?  My mind instantly dives into more IT type metrics such reduction in customized reports, proper data governance, training, etc.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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    Melissa Berrett
    Director of IT
    Oregon Health and Science University Foundation
    Portland, OR
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 2.  RE: Reporting Services metrics

    Posted Dec 04, 2018 10:34
    Hey Melissa,

    I'm firmly of the belief that if you're measuring the same thing every year, you're probably measuring process, not progress. In other words, what you would measure really depends on where the department is at. We help stand up BI/analytics/reporting functions, and at first, what we have learned is that the most important factor for success is how often reporting delivers consultation services to other departments. In other words, we observe three patterns of conduct, only one of which is really effective. The first is apathy - folks basically keep doing what they're doing and don't access data services. The second is using reporting as an admin function: asking them to prepare and produce reports. Neither of these is ideal.

    The third is strategic partnership. In this pattern, reporting offers ongoing consultation and is included in program (or whichever department) planning, and charged with designing metrics and reporting that will meet the program team's measurement needs. Program explains what they need to know, reporting proposes how to measure it, program approves, and reporting builds the reports and dashboards, and iterates on the design and ensures it's what was actually needed.

    Given that the latter is what you want, the things to measure are to what extent reporting is really included in planning. Another thing to recognize is that the IT metric of time to resolution is turned on its head. If reporting is a strategic function, you want to see them spending more time on issues, not less.


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    Isaac Shalev
    http://www.sage70.com
    Stamford CT
    @Sage70
    isaac@sage70.com
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 3.  RE: Reporting Services metrics

    Posted Dec 04, 2018 16:26
    Hi Melissa,

    I am a consultant, teach a class "Data Driven Fundraising" for NTEN and work with nonprofits to help set up systems, KPI's and processes.

    I agree with most of what Isaac mentioned in his post, but do not agree that by measuring KPI's we are measuring process and not progress :-). That said, it's important to use a metric with proper consideration and within proper context.

    Also, I agree 100% that a reporting organization cannot simply sit in a remote corner, churning/using their own KPI's and visualizations. They need to come out and actively educate and nudge the rest of the organization to adopt a more data driven mindset. Their job should be to create processes (for the lack of better word), and tools to make data & metrics more accessible to the rest of the organization.

    In addition, I also believe that just like with a CRM or database system (there's an ongoing thread on this topic current on one of the boards), set of KPI's are unique to each organization. It's impossible to give 10 KPI's and uniformly apply to each organization with same success or purpose. You can apply them but some of them just may not be the best fit, and will be ineffective in giving a clear picture that the organization seeks. This is because, KPI's are meant to track how well we are achieving or approaching goals, and each organization has different goals and strategies to achieve them.

    Hope this helps.

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    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)
    www.topcloudconsult.com
    medhananal@topcloudconsult.com
    650.600.9374
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 4.  RE: Reporting Services metrics

    Posted Dec 04, 2018 17:09
    Hi Melissa,

    I started a Business Intelligence team a bit over two years ago, and as of January will be moving into a role overseeing both the BI and the IT groups -- so joining you in a similar role, but from the opposite side.

    On the BI side, I've found a few things to be true (and echo things that both Isaac and Medha have shared):

    1. KPIs around reduction in customized reports have been helpful when viewed through the lens of routine reporting. So, while our requests for customized reporting have increased (a good thing), our requests for running existing reports has gone down (a very good thing). Creating transparency around existing self-serve reports has helped us achieve this, as has educating the requester rather than giving in and doing it for them. A member of my team (Director of Training & Data Stewardship) sends routine emails and newsletters highlighting popular reports (often seasonally appropriate) as a way to encourage and remind people to use them instead of emailing the team to ask for something custom. These are more transactional in nature.

    2. KPIs around data governance are also helpful. My team is responsible for all record creation and biographical data entry/updates in our CRM, KPIs around accuracy are helpful as a management tool. Externally, KPIs can also drive engagement. One idea that we haven't yet employed here but that I've heard from others is running "contests" around specific data points to help clean-up and bulk up the database. For example, we dedicate a lot of time to engaging young adults, but our age data is not where I'd like it to be. So, we could use KPIs around completeness of age data in records that are assigned to fundraiser portfolios as a way to encourage fundraisers to enter data in CRM.

    3. The strategic partnership approach that Isaac mentions is absolutely the gold standard and what we strive for. It's time intensive for everyone, and it requires people on your team who know the other side of the business (or can quickly understand it) and who are data driven but also pragmatic. It is also what has given the team the most visibility that then drives requests for partnership.Managing scope, priorities, and expectations around participation and ownership becomes much more important compared to the transactional reporting. From a team measurement perspective, it's less about KPIs (I haven't figured any out, at least) and more about meeting goals, communication, adherence to goals, etc.

    Happy to toss ideas around or discuss more!



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    Lauren Abrahams
    VP: Business Intelligence Group
    Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
    labrahams@jewishla.org
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 5.  RE: Reporting Services metrics

    Posted Dec 06, 2018 13:14
    ​Lauren, I'd love to virtually buy you coffee and chat more about how your department is designed and about the information you mentioned!!

    Do you have a full day tomorrow?  I only ask for such a sudden date as I go on vacation for 3 weeks on Saturday!  If not, I'd love to chat in January.

    My work e-mail is berrett@ohsu.edu

    What say you?

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    Melissa Berrett
    Director of IT
    Oregon Health and Science University Foundation
    Portland, OR
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    Tech Accelerate