BI Whitepaper

Author: Chris Miller
Last modified: October 13, 2020

Operating and scaling a professional services company is incredibly challenging. Every element of the business is in constant motion, and cash seems to fly out the door faster than it comes in. In addition, managing the queue of projects, scheduling employees, monitoring sales, and business development are all essential for your organization’s growth.

As there is no one-size-fits-all platform to operate our unique businesses, we all use a collection of management tools that work best for our use cases. Each of these tools provide some type of analytics, usually a combination of reports and dashboards. The problem is that each of these tools report on one facet of your operations, whether that’s accounting, sales, project management, time tracking, or attendance.

Given the fast pace our businesses move, it’s a daunting, if not impossible task
to keep on top of the overall operational health of the organization. Let’s face it, as good as each tool may be, we simply don’t have time to sift through a dozen browser tabs of dashboards and reports, much less attempt to mentally map that data into something meaningful. You simply reach a point where you are flying by the seat of your pants and you can’t scale.

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In 2017, we added Business Intelligence (BI) to our professional services lineup. While we had plenty of experience with the technical building blocks in the cloud although we hadn’t had the luxury of aggregating our data sources to get better analytics on the business. We had been using an increasing number of SaaS software solutions since 2010, and let me tell you, we were like kids in a candy store, brimming with ideas around what we could now do with this data.

There were two areas of the business that were the greatest concern of ours, employee productivity, and the financial health of the company. In the years prior
to using BI, we were aggregating data exports from our accounting system, our employee attendance records, and our time tracking and invoicing system. To be frank, it was a pain in the ass and it was done very sporadically. None-the-less it was very enlightening to discover why our revenue generation was very sporadic at that time.

As a small organization, things tend to be a little less formal and it takes time to build up the proper management processes as well as systems to monitor and enforce policies. Not to say our employees were doing anything bad, we’re just aware that clock is always running and at some level every minute is an opportunity to bleed money.

As you probably know, your annual revenue per employee is a function of :

((Annual Working Hours – PTO/Holidays) * % Billable Hours) * Average Hourly Rate

((2080 Hours – 21 Days Off) * 75% Billable Hours) * $150 = $215,100 or $17,925/mo

Your numbers are probably similar, and likely variable based on a number of factors. As you also know, maintaining a consistent flow of new business coming in, and keeping your team busy and operating at peak capacity is a constant battle. When you hit those seasonal lull periods, your employees are billing less hours. While you can generate monthly billable hour reports from your time tracking software, this alone does not provide details such as true labor cost per hour of revenue, average billable rate per employee, percentage of billable vs. paid hours, percentage of tracked time, and other factors.

As an example :

Individual Contributor Productivity Dashboard

Our first project was centered around this area of the business, and the result was an employee productivity dashboard we released to all of our employees. This serves as a feedback loop to each member of our team, giving them access to their own performance metrics and allvowing them to proactively work toward reaching their monthly goals. Without this information, they simply don’t know their individual contribution to the company until after the fact. At that point it’s too late to course correct when necessary.

Chris Miller

About Chris Miller

With over 20 years of experience in the IT technical field as a system administrator and operations manager at a local internet service provider, Chris founded Cloud Brigade to support the growing number of companies adopting internet technologies in the cloud.

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