From The Editor | January 23, 2013

From RSPA INSPIRE: Yes, KPIs Can Be Fun

Top Federal IT Initiatives Include Security, Disaster Recovery, Digitizing Records

Running your reseller organization often gives you a rush – landing a big installation, seeing your ideas brought to life, negotiating a deal, discovering new technology at a trade show. But talking about key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business isn’t exactly pulse-raising stuff. Even just reading a list of some KPIs can induce a yawn. Examples include warranty work cost, value of obsolete inventory, and office supplies as a percent of overhead.

If you’re still awake, here’s some advice for you the resellers and vendors attending this week’s Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) annual INSPIRE winter conference in Curacao have already learned. You can bring KPIs to life by engaging your entire team in improving your business. You’ll not only achieve and surpass your KPIs, but you can have a blast while getting there.

Here is INSPIRE speaker Tom Bouwer’s six-step list he calls a Rapid Improvement Plan (RIP) which will increase the chances you’ll achieve KPIs:

1.       Select a key performance indicator

2.       Determine the objective and duration

3.       Quantify financial benefits of winning

4.       Identify participants and action steps

5.       Create a theme and build a scoreboard

6.       Identify a celebration

At the INSPIRE education session today, Bouwer divided the attendees into small groups who were tasked with building a sample Rapid Improvement Plan for a reseller organization. I’ll share with you highlights of my group’s RIP which followed Bouwer’s six-step process.

1. Select a KPI: New customer revenue

2. Determine objective/duration: Increase Q4 new customer revenue $100,000 (vs. last year’s Q4)

3. Financial benefits of winning: Increased sales/profits, more money to fund paychecks and incentive pay, more commission for sales reps which will aid the stability of the sales team, more potential recurring revenue, larger customer base to renew in the future

4. Participants/action steps: Everyone in the company participates, not just sales. Sales will need to meet weekly productivity quotas including reviewing each inbound “suspect” (a potential prospect), sending drip marketing materials to prospects, plus a pre-set number of phone contacts, face-to-face contacts, demos, and proposals. Techs also have a productivity goal to submit to the sales manager five suspects each week. The techs should uncover these company names during their service calls. Admins have a weekly job to research new business licenses and construction permits and submit those to the sales manager.

One other action step includes a senior executive dividing the organization into four teams that balance salespeople, technicians, and admins appropriately.

5. Theme/scoreboard: The contest is titled Fantastic Fourth Quarter. The four team names will be Mr. (and Mrs.) Fantastic, Invisible People, The Things, and Human Torches. The overall contest scoreboard will be a giant poster with the image of a torch. It starts blank but is colored with a red marker as the organization achieves new sales. In addition, a weekly scoreboard tracks productivity goals and is updated in a weekly all-hands meeting. At that meeting, each member of the group with the highest productivity receives a traveling trophy to keep at their desk for the week. To keep costs down, the trophy would be a laminated page featuring the Fantastic Fourth Quarter logo.

6. Celebration: Each week would be a mini-celebration with the presentation of the traveling trophies and applause for teams that achieved their productivity goals. The grand celebration for achieving the overall goal of increasing new customer revenue for Q4 $100,000 would be a Superhero Party for the staff. The team would stop work Friday at noon to enjoy a catered lunch (hero sandwiches, of course), drink superhero punch, and play superhero games.

The cost of this effort would be about $900. Marketing would mostly be guerilla marketing, but mailing and search engine optimization could cost $400. The cost of the party would be up to $500 (could be less or more depending on the size of your staff).

Ten different groups at INSPIRE developed and presented Rapid Improvement Plans, and while all of them were strong, the Fantastic Fourth Quarter earned first place. Thanks to resellers Les Farrance of CRS in Kalamazoo, Mich. and Lynn Skurla of  Skurla’s POS Solutions in Alaska, Mark Fraker of BlueStar, and ScanSource’s Jeanne Aiken and Ansley Hoke.


The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort in Curacao hosted RSPA INSPIRE Jan. 20-23, 2013. For complete coverage of RSPA INSPIRE, go to and