As the CEO of the company Celaque, I need to know and analyze the main events and metrics in each of the departments. The best way I have found to stay up-to-date is through a recurrent review of key indicators and documents within the company. In an established company, this is usually all set up, but in a startup, that is not always the case.
I learned this the hard way as a manager a few years ago. I would sometimes get a question about something that was going on, and I felt embarrassed because I didn’t immediately know the answer. I was in the dark because I didn’t have the numbers at my fingertips or I hadn’t checked in a couple of weeks. I realized then that I needed to find a way to stay on top of the information I needed.
First, I had to figure out the metrics I wanted to review and create the reports that would include them. I then had to find a system that would remind me to review the information every certain amount of time.
Creating these reports was no easy feat. When I first started working on this in 2013, I was managing sales for Alianza, a real estate development company. I started with our Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), which at the time was Zoho CRM. The system had preset reports, but given the nature of our industry, these needed to be modified to fit our requirements. There are certain parameters we measure that only apply to real estate development.
I started by asking myself what I needed to know ongoingly, and this is what I came up with:
How many closed sales did we have: this is by far the most important metric because this is the entire goal of sales
How many new leads we have
How many people have visited the project we are selling
The size of our pipeline: the number of active opportunities (possible sales)
Conversion: out of the new opportunities we have, how many become clients
Lead origination: how did we find the leads, or how the leads found us
On the CRM, I programmed the reports so they would provide the information we needed to make decisions. Creating the final set of reports took a few months because it involved trial and error and I had to adapt them to the company’s idiosyncrasies. For example, the reports needed to be filtered by location and product type. I started by reviewing what was ready and gradually added/perfected the rest of the reports until the information was complete.
The next step was to set up the process to review these reports. Not all the reports needed to be reviewed at the same intervals, as some had to be reviewed on a weekly basis and others monthly. So, I separated the reports by how often they each needed to be reviewed:
I set the weekly reviews for Thursdays because most of the week was over, yet I still had Friday in case there was an urgent issue that needed to be solved. I scheduled monthly reviews for the third of the month to give everyone else time to close out that month. For more on how we program processes at Celaque, please read my blog post, How to Improve and Grow Your Business with Effective Processes.
The benefit of having a set review process was that it was impossible for me to forget to check in again. With the new process in place, I always knew what was happening, and the information was timely enough that I could quickly change course or improve the way we were managing sales.
This recurrent process worked so well that I started adding all my reviews to this model. As a result, Thursday became my review day. That same year, I started going over the accounting department documents using the same system. The easiest way to maintain a high level of review quality was to follow the same concept.
I selected the reports that needed to be reviewed recurrently. The accounting system didn’t allow report modifications, so I selected the ones that fit best and added them to my review process. As I started carrying out the practice, I modified which reports I reviewed. The list of tasks within the process grew and then eventually shrank as I simplified and found the combination that worked best. These weekly and monthly reviews also provided an opportunity to check in with my team. When I am performing the review, I connect with them to go over our results for the month and clear up any questions any of us may have.
To this day over five years later, I still have my weekly and monthly review processes. They have gone through dozens of iterations as my role has changed, and the information I review keeps evolving as we develop better metrics for Celaque. The core idea, however, remains the same, and I doubt I will ever change it. Whatever happens during the week, I always make sure I do my weekly and monthly reviews because it is the heart of all my work.