digital transformation KPIs: myths and meaning

This week I spoke at the NCVO Trustee conference in a session on digital transformation, with my particular bit being on the practical angle of measurement. It was a great session with talks from Megan Griffith GrayPatrick Nash and Kay Boycott highlighting the need to view digital transformation not as a subset of Comms, and not as “Digital”, but instead as Service Transformation.

My favourite bits included when Kay challenged the audience of Trustees to educate themselves and stop dismissing digital strategy as something they can delegate purely to junior staff. Seeing Patrick highlight the proven 70% – 80% savings possible in using technology to support delivery of services also made it to my highlights.

When it came to talking about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), we asked the audience of around 40 to raise their hand if they were exposed to their digital KPIs as trustees. Sadly an awkward absence of raised hands followed. It’s not often I’m left that speechless…

Moving quickly on, I spoke on a few myths and meaningful factors to be aware of. Here’s the top-line points:

Myths

  • Big numbers matter
    • In their own right big numbers are misleading, having lots of traffic or social media followers means nothing if people are not actively engaging and doing things that contribute to your charity goals.
  • Improved results are always good
    • Seasonality and external environmental factors could be causing peaks which have nothing to do with any actions your charity has taken. While this improvement might be beneficial, it isn’t always an indicator you’re doing more things right.
  • Digital needs its own KPIs
    • Everyone owns the performance, not just the digital team. Equally digital should be woven through all you do as we live in a country where digital is embedded in our lives. Measures should no longer sit in a silo and be the interest of the few ‘experts’.

Meaning

  • Outcome driven
    • Start with understanding your audiences and what will genuinely impact them and your related charity goals. Measures like ‘opportunities to see’, ‘page views’ and ‘impressions’ mean nothing unless you can prove impact within or for your target audiences and mission.
  • People and culture
    • Building capabilities within your team is critical, you can’t assume younger workforces automatically have workplace appropriate digital skills. Taking a phone call personally doesn’t directly translate to what works professionally, this is the same with digital skills. Baselining and monitoring skills and personal development is key to encouraging and supporting digital transformation.
  • Shifts
    • What you really need to pay attention to is shifts, and aim to track this over time. Benchmarking your results and spend against the external environment will help you understand performance and whether you might be lagging behind. Using stats like the Ofcom Communications Market Reports can help define whether you should be investing in other areas based on consumer behaviour.

The session ended with a quick Q&A which exposed enthusiasm but a shared concern about getting the right help and resources. Personally I feel its too easy to use these challenges as excuses to brush aside change as unobtainable, but I’m hopeful this room of Trustee’s will start to change things.

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