The Icimo transformation: Finding the reporting holy grail

Editor's note: At Icimo, we work to create VizAbility™. Focused on training, professional services and licensing to drive the moment when our client’s business is transformed from being limited by data, to being empowered by their data. We make the Icimo Experience™ about enabling our client’s success in all aspects of discovery, governance, deployment and evolution of their analytics journey. Icimo has used Tableau for nine years and offers a full-service Tableau training center with a regular cadence of classes either at their headquarters in Cary, NC or on site.

Individuals within organizations of all frameworks are pursuing the holy grail of data-driven transformation compelled by the need to unlock insights, drive efficiencies, and deliver innovation. Data and analytics are strategic priorities for organizations and the key accelerant of their transformation efforts. In fact, Gartner, Inc. predicts by 2022, “90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.”

Often the most challenging aspect of becoming a data-driven organization is determining where to start. Case in point: Icimo. As a company that transforms data into meaningful business value, we were neglecting our own data journey. Externally, we were transforming organizations into lean data machines, while internally we were still in start-up mode. What worked for us as a three-person company no longer applied given our rapid growth. We were relying heavily on Excel, countless spreadsheets and referencing multiple platforms to analyze our resources and operate our business.

It was time to turn our expertise inward by asking ourselves, "What business objectives or problems were we attempting to solve?" We started collaboratively as an organization, then by department, and then by individual, defining our objectives and identifying business priorities. As a service firm, the ability for us to accurately forecast projects, estimate and bill against resources, and deliver on contract was our holy grail and our key priority. Operationally, we were referencing disparate systems: our CRM system for customer management, a productivity tracking system for resource management, and an accounting system for all contracts and transactions. Essentially, we had all our planes in the air with no air traffic control.

How we did it: Integrated dashboards that show a holistic view

Tapping into our team of expert analysts, we identified our data sets and integrated data sources by creating the appropriate connections utilizing Tableau. Utilizing Alteryx, we created a repeatable workflow including all the various steps and information we needed with automated refreshes so anyone from executive stakeholder to business user could access the data in real-time. Integrated dashboards were created to provide a one-stop view of all our key metrics.

From an operations perspective, we created a contract-pacing dashboard which highlighted our number of active contracts, our number of billable hours by hourly rate, and percentage to contract completion. Within each KPI, we have the ability to drill down deeper by individual contract and view the project financials, where we are with time tracking, and further details from our CRM.

Figure 1: Icimo Contract Pacing dashboard for managing contract status, billing details, and more.

As a service firm, accurately forecasting resources is mission-critical and our finance department needed the ability to look backwards in order to move forward. Leveraging our time-tracking software, we designed a dashboard to show our week in review and how we were tracking on hours. With the ability to drill down by project, we can see where we are tracking presently versus historically, spot trends, and identify resource issues before they become problematic. Pulling from our CRM and time-tracking systems, we created a forecasting view allowing us to see the number of projects active versus those in the pipeline so we could affectively resource and allocate staff based on project needs.

Figure 2: Icimo Week in Review dashboard used for forecasting, tracking hours, and managing resources.

We created a dashboard to analyze our productivity which provides detailed views into project activity with various drill down options to look backwards and into the future. We can drill down by number of hours, by team member and/or department to identify who is working on what and when, allowing us to see gaps in productivity and overall utilization so we can staff appropriately and service our clients efficiently.

Figure 3: Icimo Production Snapshot dashboard used for sizing and staffing projects appropriately.

The ability to access our data and see a one-stop holistic view of our entire business is our holy grail. With dynamic dashboards fueled by Tableau and Alteryx that highlight every aspect of our business, we have strategically positioned each employee in our organization to see, understand, and make data-driven informed decisions, driving value and providing a solid foundation for long-term growth and lasting success.

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