Microsoft were switching from a business model based on several outsourced HR providers to one where they hired freelancers. The task of these freelancers was to solve tech issues with Microsoft applications.
However, they didn't yet have the proper dashboards in place to monitor this, improve efficiency, and reach goals.
The aim of the project was to build dashboards with multiple KPIs to monitor performance of freelancers and improve efficiency using business intelligence.
Since I have a lot of experience as a freelancer myself and I am skilled in business intelligence, I was a good fit.
My initial goal was to understand the context of the situation, meaning both the previous HR set-up and what the client now had in place.
Secondly and more importantly, I had to understanding their goals. I wanted to know where they were heading, which I qualified in milestones: where did they want to be a year from now? And so on. This was important in order to build something with longevity.
Next, I mapped out the data sources available to me.
I started by asking stakeholders about what data they had and how it could be accessed.
Then I started mapping and understanding the data, which came from many external providers. Sources included, for instance, invoices from platforms where they found some of their freelancers and active directory information from inside Microsoft's CRM ticketing software.
At this point, I talked with the client about the KPIs they wanted.
Now that I had a deeper understanding of their data, I could add more value to this conversation, because I could already see what was possible and what additional data we might need. In short, I could help identify the gaps.
Through a series of bidirectional conversations, I was able to understand the client's specific needs — what was important for them to measure and assess. I also offered insights from my own experience as a freelancer. All of this enabled us to best define our KPIs.
You always need to understand who the end user of your reports is. If your end user is someone that likes to dive into the data, you won't provide them with the same tools as you would a business user. For different readers to understand the numbers you need to structure the information differently.
The best way to go about this is by using an iterative process. I start small using a few KPIs, then I build on top of that implementing feedback from the user. It's a process of continual adjustment.
In the end, I built over 10 dashboards, all consisting of multiple KPIs.
With these dashboards, Microsoft were able to understand their resources by tracking things like attendance, how many people were working during each hour of the day, different time zones, languages, and so on.
Once they knew what they had, they were empowered to make changes, ultimately becoming more efficient.
The need to be 'agile' is a cliché, but from my experience, it's true. The business doesn't wait for the technical team to build an infrastructure and it doesn't wait for you to establish your KPIs. Competitors may launch new products that you need to compete with. When things like this happen, you need to adapt fast.