Tag Archives: Utilization

What are Your Key Business Metrics? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A CEO has been analyzing the metrics that she uses to track her company’s performance. Historically she has used common metrics like sales, gross and net margin, profit and net operating income, budget plan vs. actual expenses, and sales forecast vs. actual sales. She is curious what other companies use to track performance. What are your key business metrics?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The most important financial metric for many companies is actually cash flow – how much cash you have on hand and your cash flow forecast. Two metrics that can help you to better understand and boost cash flow are:
    • Receivables – aging rate
    • DSO – Days Sales Outstanding
  • Additional financial metrics include:
    • Portfolio performance
    • Variable versus fixed cost ratios
  • To augment understanding of profitability, track “good” profit – revenue from customers who are profitable, as opposed to revenue that is either break-even or unprofitable.
  • Sales metrics to measure future revenue include:
    • Order backlog – by month for X months out
    • From this, forecast beyond visible orders
  • Marketing metrics include:
    • Net promoter score – would the customer refer us to a friend or family member?
    • Client and referral client retention rate
  • Metrics for utilization of resources for a service provider include:
    • Total hours paid versus total hours billed
    • Resource utilization
  • Business trend tracking. If business is seasonal, look for historic peak to peak times – this may be 3 months and may be 18 months. Determine this and make the rolling cycle equivalent to your business cycle.
  • Review your metrics regularly to reinforce their importance across the company

But We Don’t Produce Anything Measurable! Seven Metrics and Tactics for Service Companies

As a service company we find it challenging to measure project profitability and client satisfaction. What measures and metrics do you find most useful?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • For billable services: utilization percent defined as (hours available for service delivery)÷(billable hours)
    • Include in the denominator both billable hours and customer good-will or preventative maintenance hours. The latter, while not producing current income, are an investment in future income.
    • Set up audits for service needs, especially future needs, when working with customers. This will help you to stay abreast of changes in the service environment and to plan accordingly.
  • For fixed budget projects – measure budgeted vs. actual expenditures by project.
  • For fixed-fee services: a fraction expressed as: (income per customer company) ÷ (cost in hours for that customer)
  • Customer audits and surveys. Options
    • Exit “pizza party” with the client – may produce tainted results. While this builds customer good-will and may provide qualitative feedback, it should be supplemented by more objective measures.
    • Mailed survey – from 3rd party with a prize for responding.
    • Email follow-up from 3rd party that directs you to the 3rd party site to complete the survey.
  • Ambassadorial CEO visits to the top contact person in key accounts
    • Opportunity to learn about the customer’s present and future needs, staffing plans, business and strategic direction. Helps to anticipate changes in the competitive landscape.
    • The more your business relies on recurring revenue, the more important these visits are.

Key Words: Service Metrics, Project Profitability, Resource Utilization, Customer Satisfaction, Business Trends