Blog

September 2015 - Volano Solutions

Are You Making These Common KPI Mistakes?

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What do you think of when you hear “KPI”? Do you think of a magic goal or number created by someone who has never held your job, that is meant to improve performance but what it really does is make you want to pull an Office Space on the closest piece of office equipment? Yeah, that’s how most people feel about KPIs.

Don’t get us wrong, businesses have to have a system in place to measure and improve performance, but we see a lot of them making the same mistakes with their key performance indicators. Are you guilty of these super common KPI mistakes?

Are You Setting Too Many KPIs?

As organizations grow, the departments within them create their own KPIs, those are blended with manager imposed KPIs and then of course you have seasonal KPIs, industry standard KPIs and then there are the KPIs that you’re still tracking because, well, that’s how it’s always been. Before you know it, an individual worker will have 57 KPIs.

Please remember, it stands for Key Performance Indicator. There is simply no chance even half of those can be categorized as “key”. Take a step back, figure out what ideal performance looks like in a given position, figure out what factors drive that success, and measure those drivers. Experts say that more than 10 KPIs will result in lack of engagement and unintended consequences because of the mutual exclusivity inherent with too many KPIs.

Are Your Setting KPIs That Can Be Accurately and Objectively Measured?

Nothing will tick off a staff quite like a KPI metric they don’t trust. What can we mean by that if we’re sticking with numbers? Numbers don’t lie. Well, here’s a “for instance” that we came across.

A restaurant implemented a customer satisfaction survey and used the results as a KPI for the staff. When the dismal results came in, the staff was genuinely surprised. So, a handful of workers took the survey to find that there were very confusing rating instructions, not to mention the survey was so lengthy, it was clear that customers were simply pressing a number button to get through to the free dessert code at the end.

Be sure that the standards you’re holding your staff up to can be accurately and objectively measured. This goes beyond the measurement of performance, and into retention, engagement and employer branding.

Does Anyone Care?

Team A hit every KPI! Good for them, keep up the good work. Team B missed every one of those suckers. We’ll get ‘em next time. We’re not saying throw a parade for every hit KPI and fire anyone who falls short, but we are saying that there have to be drivers and consequences behind KPIs. Another reason to keep it simple with less than 10 KPIs and transparent prioritization.

If you expect these people to continue to improve performance and drive the success of the organization, a paycheck alone just isn’t going to do that; that’s been proven. Discretionary effort and engagement at work come from good leadership and workplace satisfaction.

You cannot improve upon what is not measured, and that’s a big part of what we do at Volano Solutions. We help businesses track, measure and improve upon…whatever it is they need help tracking, measuring and improving upon! Let’s talk about the metrics that matter most to your organization today.

The ROI of Information Management

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When employees constantly have to sift through resources, dig to find passwords and find the right person to grant them access to information, it’s more than just an annoyance, it’s a serious waste of company resources. There is a surprisingly high cost associated with the mismanagement of information and resources.

A McKinsey study revealed the average worker spends 1.8 hours each day searching and gathering information. That’s insane, right? One fifth of your payroll is paying for information mismanagement. This is a problem.

Email is a Culprit

Another McKinsey 2012 study reported office workers spend about 2.6 hours per day reading and answering emails. A large portion of that time is dedicated to searching email. You’ve done it, scoured through several emails to find one little snippet of information that likely should have been captured and stored in a centralized, easily retrievable place. Email is not a tool to store or organize information and it certainly can’t take the place of a project management system. It just wasn’t built for that, yet, we continue to waste time and search.

Lack of Accountability is a Culprit

Email doesn’t provide the environment where accountability thrives.  Here’s a scenario: Your sales guy just won a new deal and a week later the client calls him up to ask for the delivery date to be a week sooner.  The salesperson says sure and later emails the operations manager and cc’s the project manager to let them know this.  That operations manager forwards the email to a few supervisors which end in the abyss that is the email server.

A few weeks later the client calls the account manager and asks where we’re at on the delivery.  The account manager has no idea that the delivery date was pushed up a week.  They can’t reply to the customer with any confidence if the order will be on time.  They need to “research the answer”.  They need to find who may have taken accountability for this because expectations were not clearly defined.

This process happens in different ways and scenarios all the time because there is no explicit accountability in everyday processes.

Take a moment and think about what your work day would be like if you had all the information you needed, without roadblocks. Obviously, there will be external hold ups no matter what you do, but what if everything internally were to flow exactly like it was supposed to? The correct information was in the right place, expectations were defined and explicit, and accountability of for each step of the process in this wonderland workplace was built in.

We help businesses find their workflow wonderland. We create software that makes work flow the way it’s supposed to. Find out how to get more work done now.

Video: How the Volano Culture Delivers for Clients

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Yeah, I would love to come in, soak in some third party information about a client, and code for eight hours to create customized software for a company and process I know little to nothing about.  Said no software developer ever.

It can be hard for some to wrap their head around what we do here at Volano. Put simply, we build customized software to improve and automate workflow processes, but there’s more to it. While we are in a very specific niche of the software industry, our company culture differentiates us even further.

How We Make Work Flow

When we take an organization from spreadsheets and whiteboards to fully automated workflow solutions, we do it differently. We take out the middleman. Instead of the client, project manager, business analyst and software developer playing a rousing game of telephone with boat loads of information, our developers work directly with our clients. This allows not only for transparent communication and expectations going both ways, but this direct interaction facilitates a bond between the software developer and the person using the software.

Our unique approach to workflow solutions eliminates creative roadblocks in the process -perhaps one of the strongest and most overlooked parts. When the client and developer have their own cohesion, we have found that this fosters the most comprehensive, yet simplistic of solutions. When we first meet with clients, we explain that this won’t be your typical development project and by the way, meet your software developer…

Meet Your Developer

We realize that every organization will have their differentiator –The [Company Name] Difference! We chose not to get too complicated with it. We follow the school of thought that satisfied, engaged employees make satisfied, engaged clients. So far, it’s working out phenomenally.

Creating a work-life balance for employees is no doubt an investment, but it’s one with amazing returns. Software developers aren’t a dime a dozen, and software developers who invest discretionary effort into their work are most certainly not a dime a dozen. We like to keep things laid back in office -beer, darts, casual conversation -all welcome around here. Burnout is a very real thing in this industry, so we crafted our company culture and management style with that in mind. Beyond the physical work environment at Volano, these are the folks our clients are interacting with, these are our brand ambassadors, if they’re not happy and engaged, it shows.

So, yeah, you could call it the Volano Difference (insert stock photo of business person smiling here). Our company culture was thoughtfully made a solid part of our strategy. We create effective solutions for businesses with a unique approach that goes beyond your typical project interaction. We dive in, we build things, and we make work flow.

How to Keep the 20% of Customers that Generate 80% of Your Business

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While there are many pieces to this customer retention puzzle, today we’ll focus on operations. Obviously, you still have to give ‘em the ol’ razzle dazzle with fantastic customer service but for the most part, this sale is won. The 20% of customers that generate 80% of your business are your recurring revenue stream (the ones you can’t afford to lose). So, let’s talk about how to retain these precious few with a flawless operations workflow.

Work Queues

How many times have you experienced operations delays because information was passed along via the telephone game? How many times has an operations process come to a halt because no one was there to take over at the next step? The worst part of these all too familiar scenarios is that no one is held accountable, because no one has been made accountable. Furthermore, your 20% doesn’t really care who’s accountable; all they know is they don’t have their order.  

Every operations department, or group of departments, should have automated work queues. The idea is that with every step of a process, the right person is notified of their expected action. Going further, these work queues should include all information needed to carry out the action, as well as a timeline for the process. Once one step of the process is complete, the next queue is triggered.

Automated work queues don’t forget to pass along information and they don’t give vague instructions. Work queues let employees know what is expected of them and what they are accountable for, making it easier for them to deliver.

Transparent Workflows

At Volano, we probably overuse the word transparency but with good reason. Firstly, transparency in operations specifically, grants each moving part a bird’s eye view of the whole process, increasing accountability and virtually eliminating bottlenecks and those wretched cracks that things are always falling through.

Secondly, and just as importantly, transparency creates context and where there is context, there is engagement. When a person knows how their efforts tie into the big picture, a sense of ownership occurs. It’s leadership 101 –engaged employees make happy customers. Engaged employees by definition are invested in the goals of the organization. If your goal is to retain your 20%, it’s your employees’ goal too.

Repeatable Processes

Transparency and automated work queues sound awesome, but they are part of a bigger workflow solution -repeatable processes and business rules. Establishing these rules and processes will take some trial and error, but they are 100% worth it. A customer can feel every pain point in your operations process -every time they get a product in the wrong color or size, every time their order is shipped 3 weeks after purchase, every time they can’t get someone on the phone. Tailoring and fine tuning your repeatable processes means a consistently positive experience for your customers, leading to their retention.  

Not very surprisingly, we found that operations failures aren’t caused by laziness or lack of attention, but rather ineffective processes. Please don’t be fooled by the current loyalty of your 20%. If they aren’t looking for a better product, service or solution now, they will be. Unless you work at improving your operations, they’ll find it. Their loyalty to you depends on your investment in their retention. Let’s talk about customer retention now.