The Services Dashboard

Right now I am working on a “services insight” paper for members titled “The Services Dashboard.” How to create an effective dashboard is one of the most common inquiries we receive. Every line of business eventually establishes a dashboard to communicate the health of the business. Service businesses are no different.  There is an entire industry composed of both software vendors and consultancies that support the creation of business dashboards.  These vendors and consultants cite common attributes for an effective dashboard:

  • An intuitive graphical display that is easy to understand
  • A logical structure to the information presented
  • Little or no user training is required to interpret the dashboard
  • Regular and frequent updates of dashboard information for accuracy and relevance to current conditions.
  • A consolidated source of Information from multiple sources, departments, or markets can be viewed simultaneously.

With these design principles in mind, the leaders from all of our associations have worked with both member companies and leading industry consultants to craft a baseline services dashboard that can be used for almost any line of technology services (support, professional services, managed services, etc.)

Categories

First of all, we reviewed the data being gathered by the benchmark instruments of AFMSI, SSPA, and TPSA. We also reviewed those instruments with leading technology companies from our membership to understand what information they are were tracking for their services business. Finally, we reached out to firms providing consulting on how to optimize services strategy and operations to gain their opinions on what data should be tracked in a services dashboard. Through all of that discussion and analysis, we were able to define ten universal categories where services businesses need to baseline their performance. The categories are outlined in Table below.

Category

Relevancy

Example Result, Metric or Practice

Business Performance

Is the services organization delivering key business results such as target revenues and profits?

Services Revenues

Services Bookings

Project Margins

Customer Experience

Is the services organization delivering an acceptable customer experience?

Customer satisfaction results

Customer satisfaction compensation practices

Services Delivery

Is the services organization delivering services offerings efficiently and effectively?

Billable utilization rates

Productive utilization rates

Project completion ratios

Services Operations

How mature and cost effective is the infrastructure supporting the services organization

Cost of G&A as % of services revenues

Ability to track resource availability

Time to source services engagements

Partner Management

Does the services organization have a mature and effective capability to evaluate and enable services delivery partners?

% of services delivery sub-contracted

Services partner margins

Time to enable services partners

Services Engineering

How mature and cost effective is the capability to design and deploy new services offerings?

Time to market for new offerings

Cost of services development as % of services revenues

% of services engagements that receive formal project reviews

Services Marketing

Does the services organization have the ability to enable sales channels to sell services, help drive demand, and increase customer awareness?

Cost of marketing as % of services revenues

% marketing dollars spent on demand generation

Services Sales

Is the services organization effective at selling services offerings?

Discount rates

Realization Rates

Cost of services sales as % of services revenues

Hit rates

Attach rates

Product Development Impact

Does the services organization effectively influence the development process for new product offerings

Defined process for engaging services into the product development life cycle

Defines process for information from the services knowledge to influence product features

Economic Impact

Does the services organization have the ability to calculate its influence on key metrics such as total account profitability or product renewal rats?

Total account profitability with and without services engagement

Product renewal rates with and without services engagement

Using these ten categories, you can map almost any result, metric, or practice related to managing a services business. But the elegant aspect of these categories is how you can map them visually.

 Graphical Representation

The core five gauges of the services dashboard represent the life cycle of the services experience. First the service is sold to the customer by Services Sales. Services Delivery is then responsible for delivering what was sold. Services operations is responsible for scaling delivery capabilities. Services Engineering is developing and optimizing offerings. Services Marketing is creating demand, which leads right back to selling services.

The four areas of influence for a services organization are customer experience, partner management, product development, and economic impact.

 The complete services dashboard is shown in below. The placement of the dials is relevant. Customer experience occurs at the intersection of Services Sales and Services Delivery activities. Services Operations and Services Delivery both touch services delivery partners.  Services Marketing and Services Engineering should be partnering to influence the features in new product releases. Finally, economic impact metrics such as the influence of services on pulling product sales are an extension of core services business results such as project margins.

The Services Dashboard
The Services Dashboard

At first glance, this dashboard can be overwhelming, but every dial on the dashboard is mapped to key data points that reveal the effectiveness and health of the services organization. I would argue this is a solid template to begin with if you are being tasked to create a dashboard for your services organization.

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4 Responses to “The Services Dashboard”

  1. Neal Barnes Says:

    Great stuff – exactly the kind of thing I’m working on. Please keep me posted as this develops.

    Neal Barnes

  2. Donna Taylor Says:

    thank you

  3. Jodie Paxton Says:

    Exactly what we are discussing. Please update me when the paper is complete. Thanks!

  4. Dianne Lawson Says:

    This is very insightful and the best tool to get one glance results! Looking forward to reading the paper on this! thanks

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