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Buyer's Guide

by Daniel Harris,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 18, 2017

How do you measure success? A sales manager might shoot for a high client acquisition rate, an application developer could want to deliver the least number of defects at launch and a CEO may live or die by their gross profit margin.

These are examples of key performance indicators (KPIs)—important metrics that teams, departments and whole organizations monitor to measure their success (or lack thereof).

KPI software automates the tracking of these important stats and presents them in easy-to-understand dashboards so users can track performance and spot trends at a glance. These platforms act as a centralized hub for decision makers, aggregating data from various integrated sources and allowing users across various departments to compare their KPIs against preset goals.

This guide is meant to help those researching KPI software for the first time. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Common Functionality of KPI Software
Benefits of KPI Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Key Considerations for Buyers

Common Functionality of KPI Software

KPI software is a type of dashboard software, and thus the platforms share common functionality:

Data integration Pull data from multiple sources, including Excel files, proprietary databases and commercial business platforms.
Customizable dashboards Create customized dashboards at an individual or team level so users only see the KPIs that matter to them.
Reporting Use standardized reporting templates, or customize your own, then have reports sent to stakeholders automatically as necessary.
Web accessibility Cloud-based KPI software platforms allow users to access their dashboards from anywhere.
Trend spotting Track KPI data in real time, or compare over a set timeframe to identify trends.
Automatic alerts Send notifications via email if performance tracks drastically over or under KPI goals.
KPI dashboard in InetSoft Style Intelligence 

KPI dashboard in InetSoft Style Intelligence

Benefits of KPI Software

KPI software offers a number of benefits to organizations both large and small:

  • It visualizes vital information at a glance. Many BI platforms can help you dig through and analyze millions of points of data. KPI software helps you hone in on a few priority metrics at a time to avoid analysis paralysis.
  • It focuses your organization’s efforts. No more confusion about goals—once your KPIs are set and your team can monitor their performance against them, team members can focus on improvement.
  • It gives you a centralized view of your data. The data to measure your KPIs may be scattered between your CRM system, multiple Excel spreadsheets and a proprietary database. KPI software can pull all of this information together into one centralized location.
  • It saves time on data collection. Once your data sources are integrated with the platform, KPI software takes care of the rest. Gone are the days of manually updating numbers on a recurring basis.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

KPI software buyers tend to fall into one of three categories:

High-level executives. Needing a high-level view of their organization’s performance, many executives rely on KPI software to boil down the many facets of their business into a few key metrics, which they can easily monitor and report to shareholders.

Managers and department heads. Using a single KPI software platform, various managers and department heads can create customized dashboards and views in order to aid decision making within their business units.

IT users. Though non-IT workers continue to account for nearly two-thirds of BI software purchases, IT professionals still make up a significant chunk of KPI and general dashboard software buyers. These buyers are looking for an efficient way to digest sizeable amounts of data related to internal business systems.

Key Considerations for Buyers

Deciding whether to invest in KPI software and choosing which platform is best for your needs requires considering a variety of factors. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

Is KPI software all you need? KPI software only offers a fraction of the functionality found in larger BI platforms. Consider more robust suites with data mining and predictive analytics capabilities if you want to make use of more information and gain greater insight into your organization’s performance.

Where does mobile BI come into play? On-premise systems have their benefits (more data storage space and customization), but many buyers take advantage of cloud-based systems and dedicated apps that enable them to access KPI dashboards from a mobile device. If you have a remote workforce, your vendor’s mobile BI capabilities could play a huge role in your purchase decision.

Who will be using the system? IT staff may be able to work their way around a complex KPI tool, but what about your sales team? Depending on who’s using the software and their technical literacy, you may need to make user-friendliness a top priority when deciding on a KPI vendor.

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