iCharts is a cloud-based business intelligence (BI) tool that embeds natively within Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. As a company, iCharts faces the same challenges that many growing startups go through. With a rising headcount and locations in Mountain View and Roseville, California, it’s important to maintain agility and flexibility as a company. More people and more locations means more ways for the message to get lost. Without standard Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that everyone agrees on, along with up-to-the-minute snapshots of the company, people can spend as much time looking for information as they do acting on it. As a company scales, the problem can get worse and worse.
Fortunately, iCharts is in the business of solving that problem. For our own organization, we’ve set up a shared iCharts Dashboard that covers almost every aspect of the business. Because of this, data goes into almost every decision we make. By using iCharts, everyone can understand the data and be sure it’s up to date. Instead of spending meetings figuring out the numbers, we talk about what we’ll do about them. Everyone from management to sales uses the same data, and the same charts, so we’re naturally aligned to tackle new challenges.
If you use iCharts, or you’re thinking about starting, here’s an idea of how we use iCharts at iCharts, along with some background on how the company started.
Data Analytics Problem
The idea for iCharts came when our founder and CEO Seymour Duncker started his career at SAP. At the time, he spent his nights poring over Excel spreadsheets and pivot tables. “There was a 64,000 row limit at the time, and we bumped that multiple times,” says Duncker. Meanwhile, analytics technology was emerging, and a bunch of friends were starting their own companies.
Looking around, Seymour could tell there was a ton of room for improvement in the way people interact with their data. “We literally generated a gigantic excel workbook that contained the whole entire database, and sent this thing around. I felt that was a seriously broken process,” says Duncker. Seymour found himself in meetings where people spent half the time figuring out which spreadsheet to look at. “This has been the issue wherever I’ve been. When you don’t have clear KPIs, clear metrics, you have people in the room wondering about the data. They’re not on the same page.” Furthermore, the data was only accessible to a select group of people.
Even if they managed to solve the problem of distributing this giant spreadsheet, most people would have no idea what they were seeing. Data was difficult to analyze, difficult to distribute, and difficult to understand. Out of these frustrations, the idea for iCharts was born.
Seymour started iCharts and got to work building a lightweight business intelligence solution that works natively within existing SaaS tools. At first, iCharts the company was too small to take advantage of the product. A few people sitting around a conference table didn’t have problems syncing up. Before implementing iCharts at iCharts, Seymour’s team relied on the same methods that many companies still use: SalesForce reports, Excel spreadsheets, and plain old email. These methods were slow, manual, and ripe for error. As the company grew, it became harder to align around data. Furthermore, employees needed the ability to slice and dice their data for their own needs. Seymour started iCharts to solve the problem of data alignment, and he soon found the same problem emerge at the company he was building. iCharts needed a taste of its own medicine.
The iCharts Solution
Before long, Seymour started using iCharts the product to run iCharts the business. “There’s a whole spectrum of top level KPIs, and individual contributing KPIs. So what we’ve developed is a chart book that highlights all of those segments,” says Duncker. As CEO, Seymour has real-time insight into every aspect of the business, and so does everyone else.
Every department, and nearly every employee uses iCharts on a daily basis. For specific needs, employees customize their dashboards to highlight the data they need to do their jobs. Furthermore, they can shift their focus at any time. “With sales, at the end of the month, new sales is key. Middle of the month, I’m interested in meeting production numbers. Quarterly, I’m interested in churn and customer satisfaction,” says Duncker. At any given time, employees have access to the charts they need. If a situation calls for something particular, it’s easy to make something new.
With eyes on so many parts of the business, we can examine new challenges with solid data that’s ready to go. Instead of fishing around for information, or wasting meetings sniffing out an old Excel file, we can focus on solutions.
iCharts at iCharts
Seymour and the management team rely on a core set of KPIs that show the state of the business at any given time. By putting them together in a chart book, management can get everything they need to know in one place. “As a management team, we look at this daily, sometimes multiple times in a day,” says Duncker. There’s no longer a need to quibble about information, everything they need to know is right there, and they know the data is accurate.
For another example of how iCharts uses iCharts, let’s look at sales. “Salespeople by nature are a competitive breed, so we put in the rooms a big screen and we have rotating metrics that show the top performing SDRs and AEs,” says Duncker. Before long, their strategy of giving salespeople more information paid off. “We’ve had situations where at lunch time, one SDRs was on top, so another SDR said ‘I’m gonna beat this person,’ and booked three meetings by the time the other guy got back from lunch.” A simple leaderboard with real-time data was all it took to create an environment where sales could thrive.
Marketing offers another example of iCharts at work. After looking at the chartbook, Seymour and his team noticed leads were more expensive than they wanted. Their “cost per lead,” or CPL, was rising, and it raised some questions. As soon as they opened up the data, the answer was obvious. “We figured out one particular channel was extremely expensive, so we switched that channel off and cut our cost per lead in half overnight,” says Duncker. Without iCharts, such a problem could take weeks just to identify. With iCharts, the company found it and solved it within a day.
There are endless examples of how iCharts has used iCharts to identify a problem and find a solution, but according to Seymour, the real value is having everyone on the same page. “I’m not wasting people’s time reporting to me. Instead of wondering where my organization is, I can play more of a support role and help people be better at their jobs. We can focus on what’s working, and what’s not working,” says Duncker. “There’s nothing like a clear discussion on clear facts. With data up front, the nature of the conversation changes immediately. We can take action. We used to spend a quarter trying to figure out stuff, and we’ve cut that down to two weeks.” With iCharts, the company is able to think about what’s next instead of wondering what’s going on now. The burden of creating reports and running them up the flagpole disappeared. Information comes to you, and not the other way around.
To learn more about iCharts, visit our iCharts for NetSuite page.