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4 Types Of KPI Software You Should Be Aware Of
Getting confused about the different types of KPI monitoring software that are available? Consider this your “cheat sheet.”
You need a way to track your strategy, manage your reporting, and showcase the results—but how do you even begin looking for the right kind of software for the job?
We’ve had many inquiries from organizations that are looking for data visualization software, or strategic planning software—but after taking inventory of their wants and needs, we realize that they’re actually looking for report generation software. All of these buzzwords make it difficult to understand what you really need. So, we’ve created this “cheat sheet” of the four most common types of KPI software options.
1. Strategic Planning Software
Strategic planning software allows you to develop and execute your strategy within an organization. A lot of the functionality with this type of software revolves around creating an organizational-level strategy and implementing it across your departments and divisions. For example, if one of your objectives is to improve cross-selling of your products, you could have organizational-level objectives trickle down into your various departments. Strategic planning software helps you ensure that each division is held accountable for their portion of that objective or measure and allows you to evaluate how they’re each contributing.
The type of company looking for strategic planning software is either just getting started with their strategic planning or has a small strategic planning department. They’ll very likely want to use the software to create or mend their current strategy, which is beneficial if they’re just getting started. If you already have a solid strategy in place or are looking for a lot of flexibility in customizing your strategy, strategic planning software may not fit the bill.
2. Balanced Scorecard Software
The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic framework based on the Norton and Kaplan methodology. With BSC software, all of the various components of your strategy can be organized in a way that allows you to see what your goals are, whether you’re achieving those goals, and what projects you have in place to meet those goals in the future. It is a very popular framework, as it allows organizations to see a high-level view of their progress.
BSC software is ideal for organizations that already have a Balanced Scorecard concept in place in their organization or are in the process of creating one. Organizations who have a scorecard in place tend to be big proponents of strategy mapping, which allows you to see a one-page visual of your high-level qualitative goals. One of the downfalls of the BSC is that it is fairly regimented in its structure, which makes it less flexible than some frameworks.
3. Report Generation Software
Report generation software is as it sounds—it allows you to easily aggregate your data and create reports. It handles what a lot of people use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint for, but it is easier and quicker. Using report generation software, you can create reports with just a few clicks and export them to a number of different formats.
In terms of efficiency, report generation software can most certainly expedite your current process. Customization is another benefit; you can typically make your reports match your current branding and mirror the look and feel you’re going for. The negative is that strict report generation focuses more on performance measurement than performance management. Performance measurement focuses on how you did—but performance management takes it a step further and focuses on what you can do about it over the next reporting period. So you may want to consider a solution that takes both into account.
4. Data Visualization Software
Data visualization software allows you to take massive data sets and configure them in a way that is simple, digestible, and engaging. It is visually appealing and modern, as it allows for the creation of data visuals and charting that is far more advanced than your basic bar chart. One popular option—Tableau—could create geographic heat maps, if you wanted to see, for example, which states in the U.S. are using the most water on their lawns.
If you want to see what a particular demographic of your customers bought on Saturday of last week, data visualization software could provide you with great results. But if you’re more interested in seeing trends or qualitative takeaways, report generation or Balanced Scorecard software is probably more down your alley.
Keep in mind that popular software options on the market today aren’t always “cut and dry” between these four categories. You’ll often see a hybrid of these options. So, be sure to do your homework, and know exactly what your organization needs to fulfill through the use of software. (If you still aren’t sure what features you need in a tool, this free checklist should help you narrow it down!)