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KPIs SMEs Must Track In Their Quarterly Business Reviews (With Free e-Book)


With the end of the first half of 2024 imminent, now is a good time to review how well your business has been performing in relation to the goals you've set at the beginning of the year.

For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, quarterly business review (QBRs) are especially valuable. Because in today’s connected digital world, your customers have rapidly changing expectations on quality, availability, price, and business interactions with your brand.

SMEs and fast-growing companies that succeed are those with a clear framework in place - among other success factors -  to assess performance, continuity, and resilience.


When Setting Your Business Goals At The Start Of The Year, Make Sure To Avoid Falling Into These Five Pitfalls.


In this blog post, we’ll look at the importance of internal QBRs for SMEs, which KPIs must be tracked to ensure an effective QBR meeting (among other necessities), and why an ERP software could be a valuable tool to carry one out successfully. 


Why Should SMEs Run Internal QBRs?

Essentially, the goal of an internal QBR is to ascertain whether the departments, teams and employees of a business are still ‘on track’ with the business’s goals, and then make strategic decisions as needed.


1. Improved Decision-making Based On Data-driven Insights

QBRs provide a platform to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) and other relevant data, allowing SMEs to make informed decisions for the future.

By regularly reviewing performance data, businesses can identify trends, patterns, and areas that require attention, enabling them to adapt their strategies accordingly.


2. Enhanced Accountability And Performance Tracking 

Regular QBRs help ensure that teams are held accountable for their performance and progress towards goals, fostering a culture of responsibility and ownership.

By setting clear expectations and regularly reviewing progress, QBRs can motivate teams to stay on track and deliver results.


3. Alignment Of Business Goals With Strategic Initiatives 

QBRs facilitate the alignment of day-to-day operations with overarching business objectives, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.

By regularly discussing progress and challenges, QBRs help maintain focus on the most critical priorities and ensure that resources are allocated effectively.


4. Identification Of Growth Opportunities And Areas Of Improvement  

By regularly assessing performance and discussing challenges, QBRs can help SMEs identify areas for growth and improvement, enabling them to seize new opportunities and address potential issues before they escalate.

QBRs provide a forum for open discussion and brainstorming, allowing teams to share insights, best practices, and innovative ideas that can drive the business forward.


How to Conduct Effective Internal QBRs

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The adage "what gets measured gets managed" underscores the importance of scrutinizing processes to not only gain a deeper understanding but also to identify areas for improvement or course correction.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) serve as a vital tool in gauging strategic, financial, and operational performance against predefined targets, objectives, or industry standards.

While many SMEs tend to focus on traditional KPIs tied to business outcomes such as profit, growth rates etc., these are lagging indicators for past performance. SMEs that solely concentrate on these during their QBRs may only realize they've missed their targets once it's too late to make adjustments.

A more effective approach would involve incorporating leading KPIs into your QBR. These forward-looking metrics provide a glimpse into future outcomes based on current trends. By leveraging leading indicators, you can proactively adjust strategies or investments to steer towards your desired goals and outcomes.

So to for SMEs to conduct more effective QBRs, you can look at:


1. Using a Framework of Both Outcome and Leading KPIs

Consider building your internal QBR on a framework that not only uses lagging KPIs to track progress already made, but also includes leading KPIs which forecasts future outcomes based on current trends. 

It's especially important to use leading KPIs which directly reflect the goals you wish for your business to achieve. For example, while a business may use last quarter's turnover as a lagging KPI for sales performance, the number of new leads obtained in that same quarter would work well as a leading KPI for the same.

With a framework that blends both lagging KPIs for performance, and leading KPIs that measure agility and continuous process optimisation, your business will benefit from:

  • Having an early warning system that reduces risk
  • A stronger, reinforced business vision
  • More focused employees to deliver results and solve problems
  • A growth mindset, data-driven culture that helps foster innovation
  • Reduced friction points for more optimal employee, customer, and vendor experiences

For more specific examples of leading KPIs, get the free e-book from Microsoft in the link below.


2. Involving the Right Stakeholders And Team Members

Ensuring that the right stakeholders – executives, department heads, and key personnel included – are involved in the internal QBR is key to its success, for they are the ones who will be responsible for executing your revised objectives.

This means getting buy-in from every level of the workforce in your business across the board, from core leadership and executives, to middle management, all the way down to your operational-level employees.

It might be a good idea to get all your key stakeholders together to discuss the findings of the QBR, and come to a consensus as to how they would work together to put the business back on track when it comes to achieving the established KPIs. To avoid groupthink, consider managing the discussion with change management techniques such as the Six Thinking Hats.


How Can You Avoid Groupthink In Your ERP Project Implementation Team? Assign Specific Roles To Your Team Members With The Six Thinking Hats Technique. Here's How To Do So.


It also ensures that everyone is aligned with the findings of the QBR, and secures their buy-in as well. Having them all present in the meeting also facilitates open communication, and encourages collaboration across their teams and departments.


3. Implementing Actionable Strategies And Follow-up Plans

After the internal QBR has been carried out, it's crucial to review the key takeaways and recommendations from the meeting and identify specific actions that need to be taken. These must be prioritised based on their impact, urgency, and alignment with the business's strategic objectives.

Then, each action item should be broken down into smaller, manageable tasks. These should then be assigned as the specific responsibilities of individual employees, teams, or departments. Make sure to clearly communicate their roles, and the expected outcomes accordingly.

Establish realistic deadlines for each action item and task, and define intermediate milestones to track progress and ensure that the progress of each task remain on schedule.

Require regular updates from responsible individuals or teams to maintain visibility and accountability. You can schedule regular follow-up meetings to review the progress of each action item, address any obstacles or delays, and adjust as necessary.

Finally, acknowledge the completion of action items and achievement of milestones when they occur, and recognise the efforts of the individuals and teams responsible, to help maintain motivation and accountability across the board.

How An ERP Software Complements The Internal QBR Process

(1 PAGER) Business Central Infographic - Realizing results with Microsoft Dynamics 365 (1) (1)How an ERP like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can integrate your business processes and operations for better review, analysis and insight; Source: Microsoft 


An ERP software can significantly aid in conducting an internal QBR by providing comprehensive data management, analysis, and reporting capabilities. Here's how:


1. Consolidation Of Data From Across The Business

ERP software is designed to consolidate data from various departments and processes across a business, which ensures a comprehensive and holistic view of its overall performance.

This single source of truth is exactly what is needed to serve as a foundation for an internal QBR, as it enables the thorough data analysis that generates the insights to be presented in the meeting in the first place.


2. Availability Of Real-time Insights

ERP software is designed to offer real-time or near real-time updates, which means that the data used in the internal QBR will be up-to-date.

By extension, all key stakeholders participating in the meeting will also be assured that the insights presented will reflect the current reality of the business, assuring them that any decisions made during the meeting will be made on the latest information.


3. Customised Reporting And Dashboards

ERP software come equipped with reports and dashboards that can be customised to the specific metrics and KPIs that are relevant to the agenda of the internal QBR meeting.

This helps participating key stakeholders to easily identify trends, opportunities and areas of improvement, and thus buy-in to the responsibilities required to support the decisions made during the meeting.


4. Automation Of Data Analysis And Report Generation

ERP software is designed to automate repetitive, but necessary tasks and processes such as data collection, analysis, and report generation. This saves time and reduces the risk of human errors when preparing for an internal QBR.

With the time and effort saved, your key stakeholders can focus more time and effort on understanding the insights derived from the data and making decisions accordingly, making the QBR process more efficient.


5. Forecasting and Planning

Some ERP software come equipped with forecasting and planning modules, such as NetSuite Planning and Budgeting, that help businesses predict future performance based on historical data and market trends.

During internal QBRs, these capabilities enable stakeholders to set realistic goals, allocate resources effectively, and devise actionable strategies for future quarters.


Internal QBRs Helps SMEs Adapt To Changing Business Conditions

An internal QBR can play a crucial role in helping SMEs navigate ever-evolving business conditions, and come out on top. By reviewing current performance levels against established metrics, and identifying both challenges and growth opportunities, businesses can make informed decisions and drive progress.

Conducting effective QBRs involves gathering relevant data, involving key stakeholders, updating objectives, implementing actionable strategies, and documenting outcomes. Using an ERP software can further enhance the QBR process by providing consolidated data, real-time insights, customised reporting, and automation of tasks.

An effective internal QBR would not only show how well your business is achieving the KPIs established at the start of the year, it can also shed light on which KPIs should have been included based on realities on the ground, and thus considered for inclusion in the next annual review.

For some insights on which KPIs might be essential for your business to track in the near future, click on the image below to download the e-Book "Essential KPI for SMEs" from Microsoft.



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