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The Role of HR and How the Pandemic Affects Business Excellence Initiatives To Relook Its Role and Scope

Organizations across the globe have seen many ups and downs during this pandemic period, especially from supply chain disruptions, demand dips, and steep increases in raw material costs. It has been increasingly difficult to predict on any front like customer needs, as well as the skill sets and retain employees. Energy prices, global competition, sudden imposition of restrictions on goods and human travel per country, the pace of digitization, and the amount to be invested in future technologies all have to be considered as well.  Right from the last decade, the ability to proactively predict, monitor, identify, assess, address, and report emerging threats and opportunities was the need of the hour. However, the pandemic situation in recent years has thrown a real challenge to the techniques of environment scanning as the ecosystem has become too unpredictable. Coping with the uncertainties through the use of the advancement of technology is a good start. However, an employee’s motivation, retention, and wellbeing are softer issues that need to be tackled sensitively so as to keep manpower in a state to tackle challenges brought about by the pandemic.  As a matter of fact, it is HR that really has the uphill task to keep employees on board and on the same page. HR policies in the organizations have been rewritten to impart flexibility in the system to ensure the wellbeing of employees. These quick, innovative actions from HR are again under the spotlight in the wake of the new COVID-19 variant. Business excellence initiatives – be it EFQM model, BSC, six sigma, benchmarking, or maturity models – should have a renewed focus on digital technology and how these technologies can be leveraged into HR processes. Apart from the ‘Great Resignation’ trend in the USA, there is an unprecedented churn in the technology sector; although it increases ‘hiring intent’, at the same time, it sends warning signals to HR, which calls for them to have a nimble response. The renewed focus of business excellence initiatives should be on the following issues:
  • Employees’ retention and wellness
  • Increased employee outreach
  • Devising policies for virtual hiring
  • Smooth transition between work from home, work from the office, and hybrid
  • Addressing the question of salary during a pandemic and post-pandemic environment
Most of the HR processes have been migrated online; now, HR needs to rely on cloud technology to do their tasks. For example, hiring interviews are now online, but there are different software available for recording and analyzing the interview from verbal and non-verbal perspectives.  HR can use deep learning artificial intelligence to simulate the face and voice of key people – such as the CEO/COO for an awareness drive, special campaigns, training, or dissemination of information – without actually shooting the clip for each instance.  One such firm that offers this kind of service is Synthesia, a US-based tech company that developed the project and has a wide range of training tools. A client can choose from the available range of avatars for online training to be added with data and content. In a short span of time, the chosen avatar or digital trainer equipped with a realistic voice and video will be ready.  At the same time, the challenge to HR still remains for on-the-ground workers where human interaction is involved such as the medical industry, and one needs to vouch for innovative ways to see to a person’s wellness. Ensuring frequent testing, hospital tie-ups, teleconsulting with expert doctors, vitamin supplements, immunity booster diets, fitness programs, and support for dependent family members are key issues where HR has to play the lead role. In addition to having a technology-sufficient budget, it is also a prerequisite that HR has to plead with top management. The benefits ecosystem should now comprise of financial, medical, and wellness of employees.  These are just glimpses of the changes that are happening, as well as changes that need to be brought into the HR system. Business excellence initiatives should take cognizance of such developments and try to address these in their respective instruments. Audits and assessments cannot be limited to diagnostics; it needs to be taken a step further to suggest prescribed technology/innovative practices which can help in employee retention and creative output from employees.

Inbound Service and How It Can Impact Performance


Modern customers have a clear view of how the business treats them. Therefore, a customer’s voice defines a company’s reputation. A recent statistic developed by Bain & Company through a Customer-Lead Growth diagnostic questionnaire shows that 80% of businesses believe they deliver superior CS; in reality, only 8% provide it. 

Organizational excellence is a result that comes from individual and team excellence; businesses are based on humans. If we compare a business to an orchestra, the musicians should play from the same sheet of music. Also, they should increase their performance both individually and as a group. Each of them has a significant role and must follow their conductor’s instructions. What will it happen if each of them plays from a different sheet of music? 

This article will present an overview of the inbound customer service concept and the application of the concept to the performance management field. 

What is Inbound Service?

The term was created by HubSpot in 2006 and used initially in the marketing field which eventually got applied to sales and customer service. 

Inbound service is a modern process of finding potential customers organically by providing value, building trust, and more, focusing on customer retention rather than buying it as in the traditional outbound marketing approach. It supposes coordination of efforts of marketing, sales, and customer service. 

The opposite methodology is the outbound customer service, focused mostly on reaching the clients using cold calls. It is focused primarily on lead generation and sales, then secondly on performing customer satisfaction surveys or offering initiative-taking customer service. 

Inbound customer service is a win-win methodology that implies attracting, engaging, and turning your loyal customers into loyal advocates. 

Tom Reilly affirmed in his book Customer Service is More Than a Department: It’s an attitude

If you define success as helping others achieve higher levels of success, you will have all the success you can handle. This is one of the great promises of business. If you believe that your first mission is to help customers achieve great things, they will ensure you achieve great things. Profit follows performance. To excel, you must put the customer first.”

Is Inbound Customer Service relevant for Performance Management?

Customer service should be a priority for the whole company, not just for the CS department. If the Performance Management System is based on the customer experience, the business will grow and prosper.

When businesses develop a sound Performance Management Framework with aligned tools, processes, and techniques, they will also build a Performance Management Culture. In this regard, every employee understands his or her role within the organization. 

When CS Representatives are following the internal process over the customer wants, by using cold scripts and skipping human conversation, this will hurt business results and conduct to underperformance.

To develop a customer-oriented culture, being focused on having satisfied and engaged clients means to implement the inbound CS methodology as an extent to the Inbound Organization strategy.

How to measure what matters in Customer Service Performance

Let us suppose a business’s long-term objective is to increase customer satisfaction. It will measure performance by using KPIs such as $ Revenue per client, # Complaints received, and % Customer satisfaction. One of our initiatives is CRM software implementation.

If we apply the principles of Inbound methodology, we should focus more on innovative ways to grow and listen. This supposes that we have already measured and found ways of improvement, and already implemented a CRM software solution. The Inbound approach is a step forward in CS Performance Improvement and we should use the following techniques such as: 

  1. Conduct a Net Promoter Score Email Survey to identify promoters by collecting answers at the end of your customer journey. This measures the larger customer sentiment. 
  2. Conduct a Customer Effort Score Survey to measure the entire experience. Collect specific feedback at key points of your customer journey, using the feedback asking feedback after post-ticket feedback.
  3. Use a 3-point satisfaction survey using emotions: smile, angry or neutral faces. This survey should happen at key moments in the customer lifecycle.
  4. Designate a feedback collector. The results should share at all company levels, cascading from top management down to employee level. 
  5. Compile a list of your potential advocates to find who your supporters are.
  6. Design an advocacy activation plan to activate your advocates who will help your business grow. 

A hybrid system of Inbound and Outbound Customer Service

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a big demand for delivering transformational experiences, especially when customers are passing through challenging situations. Inbound customer service teams will monitor the incoming live chat and incoming calls, while outbound customer service is more focused on selling and marketing, trying to reach customers via email, phone, or even by text messages. 

The inbound approach is aspirational and future-oriented, and it can do more than generate revenue or reduce the number of complaints. It can include generating revenue using upselling and cross-selling. Since what matters is customer satisfaction and resolution speed, for inbound contact centers, outbound contact centers’ performance focuses on high conversion ratios.

In a hybrid call center, agents are responsible for both receiving calls and reaching out the potential customers; it reunites and centralizes all communication channels. For most businesses, it is important to use both approaches and deliver both proactive and reactive support for customers.

In today’s fast-paced digital environment, customers are changing their ways to do business at an exponential rate. If a company needs to survive in these conditions, it must fundamentally shift its thinking. Today, businesses should create relationships and increase ideas, which will help them have a competitive advantage, increase brand recognition, and grow market share. 

The whole company should be a part of delivering an extraordinary experience for the customer, not just marketing and sales. Everyone must be aligned with the company mission, culture, and strategies to deliver value to the customers. 

To upskill your knowledge on measuring and improving Customer Service Performance, join The KPI Institute’s upcoming editions of the Certified Customer Service Performance Professional.

KPI Governance Structure: Understanding the Roles of KPI Owners and Data Custodians


Image Source: relif | Canva

When implementing a Performance Management System (PMS) based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the organization needs to create a favorable context to plan, organize, coordinate, communicate, and control performance. Such endeavor implies multiple initiatives, resources, and most of all, employee engagement. However, challenges are inevitable. These challenges often arise from the mechanisms and relations by which the KPI Measurement Framework and KPI-related processes are controlled and directed. 

As such, unclear definitions and overlap of roles and responsibilities and lack of ownership, commitment, or clarity in terms of target achievement accountability are some of the most common challenges that may endanger the achievement of strategic business objectives and goals. The root cause of these dysfunctions is that KPI governance structure has never been clearly defined or described.

KPI governance structure

There are multiple parties involved in governing and managing KPI-related processes, and all play a specific role in promoting, supporting, designing, implementing, and maintaining the KPI measurement framework. A typical KPI governance structure includes the following  components:

  • Performance Manager – Responsible for supervising the entire process
  • PMO specialists – Support the persons involved in the process, analyze data and check it for accuracy
  • KPI owner – Responsible for KPI target achievement
  • Data custodian – Responsible for KPI results collection/ data collection

KPI owners and data custodians have two of the most operational KPI governance roles within the organization. While the data custodians are responsible for ensuring that high-quality KPI data is gathered and communicated to all interested stakeholders, the KPI owners are mainly responsible for the KPIs under their management, making sure that they are viable and measurable.

KPI owners’ role and responsibilities

Within a standard Data Governance Framework, a data owner is in charge of ensuring that processes are followed to guarantee the collection, security, and quality of data. Frequently in a senior or high-level leadership position, a data owner has a role in planning the data, supervising access to it, ensuring data security, and defining a repository to contextualize the data.

Similarly, a KPI owner is responsible for overseeing the process, function, or initiative that the KPI is monitoring. That person has access to the data, knowledge of how that domain functions, and, most of all, is empowered to make decisions on improving operations. 

In a nutshell, the KPI owner is responsible for reaching KPI targets through the following actions:

  1. Monitoring (looking at) the measure over time
  2. Interpreting its trends and patterns and seeking causes for them
  3. Communicating this information to people affected by that performance area
  4. Initiating action to improve performance in that area
  5. Following up to be sure that actions have the desired effect on performance

Data custodians’ role and responsibilities

Within a KPI governance framework, data custodians are involved in the design of performance data collection, receipt and storage, process, analysis, reporting, publication, dissemination, and archival or deletion of data. The daily processing and management of performance data are therefore under the control of appointed data custodians. The person assigned with such a role must demonstrate high levels of data literacy as well as skills in data management software systems and tools. 

Other required competencies for a data custodian are as follows: 

  • The ability to intuitively identify and recognize any variance from the data quality dimensions
  • Can contribute to better ways of collecting data
  • Focused on the improvement and automation of the process
  • Can competently apply the behaviors and skills of managing change
  • Uses change as an opportunity to advance business objectives
  • Works to minimize complexities, contradictions, and paradoxes or reduce their impact
  • Unifies leadership support for direction and smoothens the process of change

We may say that the data custodians are the guarantors of a sound performance data gathering process. Because of that, the profile of such an individual should also cover an analytical mind, experience in measuring and reporting metrics/ KPIs, information technology skills (basic Microsoft Excel or more advanced data analysis tools, depending on the data architecture`s level of automation), and a strong sense of integrity and ethics.

While some companies may hire specialized professionals, such as data analysts, other organizations may assign the data custodian roles to the existing employees. 


Building a strong KPI governance team is a key part of the KPI-related processes and functionalities and of successfully overcoming the inherent challenges of implementing a PMS. Once the right people are on board, they need to be guided towards making the right decisions and focusing on the correct issues, ultimately making sure that information is being governed for a purpose that aligns with business objectives.

Discover the world of KPIs, from best practices to developing scorecards and dashboards, by signing up for The KPI Institute’s KPI Professional and Practitioner training courses.

How To Establish Self-service Bi System Using Google Sheets and Datawrapper


Image Source: Oleg Magni | Pexels

To learn more about implementing a self-service business intelligence system, read the author’s previous article: “Embracing Data Visualization: What Is a Self-service BI System?”


Google Sheets needs no further introduction, but let me make a reminder that it builds on arguably one of the simplest cloud-based storage solutions, Google Drive. That will help us build a basic data warehouse that will be connected to the visualizations, as explained later in the steps. Datawrapper is also a famous online-based data visualization tool that is commonly used by news organizations, but also can be used by any business, as we will see in the how-to section of the article.

How-to time!

The how-to section will be divided into two parts; the first on how to establish the system, and the second on how to use it afterwards. These two will be followed by a final part that includes additional tips to keep the system sustainable and in best shape. So, let’s get started!

Part 1: Establishing the system

Step 1: Create your Google Drive data warehouse
  • If you are not using Google Drive for file storage at your organization, you can easily do so by creating an account.
On Google Drive > Click: Go to Drive > Click: Use another account > Click: Create account > Follow instructions  

GIF 1: Creating a Google Drive account | Source: Author

  • Create folders to categorize and build a hierarchy for the data files that you’ll add later. For instance, you can create a folder for each division in your company and then subfolders for each team within the divisions.
On Home Page > Click: New > Click: Folder  

GIF 2: Adding a folder on Google Drive | Source: Author

  • In each folder, upload the relevant data files.
Inside the desired folder > Click: New > Click: File Upload  

GIF 3: Adding a file on Google Drive | Source: Author

OR   Drag the desired files/folders from your computer > Drop it in Google Drive
  • Give suitable access permissions to your team members to relevant folders.
Right Click on desired folder > From dropdown menu, Click: Share > Enter colleagues email addresses > Click: Done  

GIF 4: Sharing Google Drive folder with colleagues | Source: Author


Step 2: Prepare datasets for Google Drive

As we will be connecting the datasets you’ve just uploaded to Datawrapper, we need to structure them in the way that the visualization tool can best read and interpret them. Here are a few things to make sure of:
  • There must be only one header row.
  • Do not merge cells.
  • Eliminate thousand separators as they will be automatically inserted on Datawrapper.
  • In the columns of values, do not mix letters with digits (You can add prefixes and suffixes later on Datawrapper, if you need to).
  • Inside the tables, do not leave any blank cells:
    • If the value is unknown/non applicable, put down a dash “-”.
    • If the value is zero, write a zero digit “0”.
  • Do not write any notes, source… etc. below the table in the spreadsheet. That can be added later on Datawrapper.

Step 3: Initiate your visualizations catalogue

  • Create a Datawrapper account.
On Datawrapper > Click: Login > Click: Create a new account > Follow instructions  

GIF 5: Creating a Datawrapper account | Source: Author

  • Start creating one type of visualization for each type of data you have. The visualizations you’ll create will serve as templates for your colleagues when they start using the system. 
On Datawrapper Dashboard > Click: Create New > Click: Chart  

GIF 6: Creating a chart on Datawrapper | Source: Author

  • Connect the spreadsheet from your Google Sheets with the chart
First: Get a shareable link for the sheet | Go to your spreadsheet on Google Sheets > Click: Share > Click: Change to anyone with the link > Click: Copy link  

GIF 7: Getting a shareable link from Google Drive file | Source: Author

  Second: Paste the link in Datawrapper chart | Go to Upload Data page on Datawrapper > Click: Connect Google Sheet > Paste the earlier copied link in the text box  

GIF 8: Linking Datawrapper to Google Sheets| Source: Author

  Hint: You may need advice from a data visualization expert on what visualization type to choose for what type of data to achieve what purpose. Here are a few general guides for the most common types of data:
  • For timeseries data with one or two values, choose a line graph.
  • For timeseries data with more than two values, choose an area graph.
  • For a simple comparison, like comparing values over a few months, choose grouped column chart.
  • For a little bit more complex comparison, choose a single column chart with a filter above.
  • Publish your chart.
Go to Publish & Embed > Click: Publish Now  

GIF 9: Publishing a Datawrapper chart | Source: Author

  • Create the previous steps to create one chart for each type of data as explained above.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully established your SSBI system with Google Sheets and Datawrapper!

Part 2: Using the system

Use 1: Creating new visualizations Users in your team will be able to create new visualizations by following the same previous steps that you followed in Part 1, except:
  • Instead of creating a new visualization from scratch, they can duplicate an already formatted existing one, and just change the data source.
First: Duplicate an existing chart | On Datawrapper dashboard > Click: Archive > Choose the closest chart representing similar data > Click on the chart > Click: Duplicate Second: Change data source | Copy and paste the new data source in the duplicated chart’s Upload Data page
  • Republish the chart to get the changes in the new chart reflected.
Go to Publish & Embed page > Click: Republish  

GIF 10: Duplicating a Datawrapper chart | Source: Author


Use 2: Editing or updating existing visualizations

Users can also edit or update an existing visualization
  • If editing or updating the data itself is what is needed, you’ll need to edit or update the source data spreadsheet, and then go to the connected chart on Datawrapper to republish it, so it reflects the new changes in the data source.
Go to Google Sheets > Edit/Update the dataset > Go to the connected chart on Datawrapper > Go to Publish & Embed page > Click: Republish  

GIF 11: Updating a Datawrapper chart | Source: Author

  • If editing or updating the chart itself is what is needed, you can head directly to the chart, make your changes and republish as in the previous steps.

Use 3: Exporting and embedding visualizations

Now, once the visualization is created, it can be exported in both interactive and static forms, to be embedded in web pages, pdf reports… etc.
  • To get an interactive version of your chart, you’ll need to get its HTML code and paste it into the editor of your web page.
First: Get the code | Choose the desired chart > Go to Publish & Embed > Under Embed code for your visualization > Click: Copy Second: Paste the code in your web page | Go to the backend of your web page > In the text editor > Click: Text (Name and form below may differ) > Paste the code > Save the page > Should Appear on your front end  

GIF 12: Embedding an interactive Datawrapper chart | Source: Author

  • To get a static version of your chart, you’ll just need to export it as an image, and then you can use it as any other image.
Choose the desired chart > Go to Publish & Embed > Under Export or duplicate visualization > Click: PNG  

GIF 13: Embedding a Datawrapper chart as an image | Source: Author

  Congratulations! The SSBI system is now up and running!

Additional tips

For this system to keep working efficiently and with as little flaws as possible, here are a few tips of good practice:
  1. Make your data folders and files naming systematic and understandable. Then, name the connected chart with the same name of the spreadsheet. That will enable easier reaching for users in the future, using the search function on both tools.
  2. You can let your team use the same account you created for Datawrapper, but that of course is not advisable. Instead, you can create teams within your account, and invite relevant members through email, assigning specific access authorities (in the same fashion of giving access on Google Drive). For more on this, you can see Datawrapper Academy articles on how to create a team and how to invite others.
  3. Create a shared guide document with your team containing detailed steps, color codes and all standards for all the uses above (You are also welcome to embed a link to this article as well!).
  4. As an appendix to that guide, add a part for the technical issues that faced your team when working with the system, and document how you solved them. Keep that part updated with every new issue coming up.
  5. Assign yourself or one of your team members the responsibility of doing regular checkups on datasheets and newly created or updated charts, to make sure you are avoiding human errors and random technical ones as well.
  6. Depending on your needs, you might consider paid plans of Google Drive and Datawrapper. Click here and here respectively to see what they have to offer.
That’s it! Thanks for bearing up with us all the way down to this point! Now before you go, we have one more thing to say. If you would like to discover new knowledge and the practical application of best practices used in analyzing statistical data, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Data Analysis Certification.

Embracing Data Visualization: What Is a Self-service BI System?


Image Source: Buffik | Pixabay

Gone are the days when analyzing and visualizing data to get information was a job that was limited to the IT and business intelligence (BI) divisions. Gone also are the days when the sole possession of knowledge, skills, and tools for data processing was in the hands of the “data guy.”

Data is becoming more and more abundant and essential for various business operations. This makes centralizing data processing on one or two divisions an inevitable bottleneck. On the other hand, analytics and visualization tools are becoming easier to use, with more intuitive user-friendly interfaces that require less and less technical expertise.

What SSBI Is About

Self-service business intelligence (SSBI), also called self-service data exploration, has become an important approach for data-driven insights in business. It means giving the ability to the wide range of employees who are not experienced with data to drive insights from relevant datasets and create exploratory visualizations to help them better understand the data and to use it in reports. It’s also a part of what is called data democratization if you’d like another fancy term on the plate.

It should be, however, distinguished from the second approach called dashboarding. While the latter should still be the responsibility of the experienced BI team, turning amounts of data to finely curated reports on the most important KPIs within a well-developed narrative can happen. The SSBI approach aims to:

  • Avoid time delays in data-driven decision making among the low and mid-level teams that may happen due to the centralization of analytics responsibilities.
  • Minimize intuition-based decisions that can be made by low and mid-level teams on a daily basis due to lack of analytical capabilities.
  • Enhance internal communication within the teams by making data-driven insights and visualizations easier to generate, and therefore more frequent integration of reports.
  • Enhance external communication of the organization as the insights and visualizations can also be easily used in developing publications, like blog posts for example.

Google Sheets and Datawrapper

There are tons of visualization tools out there that can enable you to create an SSBI system for your organization, some of which are technologically advanced, but each has its best uses and downfalls. 

Just like Google Sheets and Datawrapper. The advantages of using these tools are the following:

  • – Businesses with no capabilities of experienced teams or infrastructure can implement the system.
  • – Anyone can use it as it requires little to no technical expertise.
  • – Visualizations can be easily duplicated and edited, suiting fast-based work routines.
  • – Visualizations can be easily well-formatted and laid out, leading to efficient reporting.
  • – Generate both interactive and static visualizations that are suitable for embedding in various forms of reports, from web-based all the way to paper-based.
  • Using a self-service BI solution can help streamline operations and support critical decisions. It also encourages collaboration, simplifies daily business needs, and increases one’s competitive advantage. With the efficiency brought by SSBI, businesses can focus on what matters most to them.

    Want to understand how visual representations can support the decision making process and allow quick transmission of information? Sign up for The KPI Institute’s Data Visualization Certification course.


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