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3 Key Tips for Reporting Production Studio KPIs to Senior Leaders

Studio operations consultant Adam Parker discusses how to share stats with execs and colleagues.

You keep using KPIs in your studios, so we keep bringing Adam Parker to The Creative Operations Podcast. The author of "KPIs, Reporting, and Dashboards for eCommerce Photo Studios," Adam knows loads about measuring and reporting data for your studio.

Get Adam's full chat with host Daniel Jester on our website, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Amazon Music. But if it's just a few lean technology tips you want, read on for the highlights.

Present Data to Senior Leadership Succinctly

Adam and Daniel agree that, when telling higher-ups about progress toward KPIs, it's tempting to give them a long-winded story with too much context.

"It was a snowy winter day in the studio..." Daniel jokes.

"It was raining when I was born..." Adam begins.

It's a tempting mistake to make, Adam explains, because you're passionate about your studio. But senior leadership isn't necessarily as excited by unnecessary levels of detail in your reporting.

"You can just see people glaze over," Adam says. "They're like, 'What's your cost per shot compared to last year? Period. That's what we want.'"

For this reason, you should distill your presentation to just a few memorable takeaways, Adam says. "Folks might walk away with three points from your meeting, and you want to tailor what those are to make your team look the best, or to get the headcount you need, or to show that you're kicking ass."

That doesn't mean executives never care about details, though. So don't be empty-handed if asked to provide more information. "You want to have backup information ready so you can drill down if you're questioned on something or challenged on something," Adam says.

Folks might walk away with three points from your meeting, and you want to tailor what those are to make your team look the best, or to get the headcount you need, or to show that you're kicking ass. - Adam Parker

Connect Goals to the Data Sources Measuring Them

You've maybe been in meetings where a data presenter is a person of mystery, pulling numbers from what seems like the sky, without the context and accountability of proving any sources. Not that it has to be a guy, but you know what we mean when we say don't be that guy.

"No one knows where he makes them, and he doesn't share them with anyone before meetings," Adam says. "He pops out, and it's some specious accusation that he's making. You don't want to be that guy. You want to be someone who knows how you've made the reports you've made, who knows that you've socialized the information that you have, maybe validated it with other people—that it's accurate—because all of these things can be complicated."

Articulate where it is that you get the data that supports your KPI. Discuss it when you set your KPIs and reference it when you report on your studio's progress. To the previous point about brevity for executives, this should be a quick mention if presenting to higher-ups and a more thorough explanation if sharing with studio colleagues.

Use Data Transparency to Promote Accountability

Your studio would soon have some serious basketball arena vibes if Adam had his way.

"I'm all about it," he says of making studio dashboards public. "I've said it before. I want a [expletive] scoreboard in the studio, just like in a sports arena. And I think having your main KPIs up on that board, visible to everyone, would be fantastic. It really, I think, builds a team environment where we're all working towards the same thing, we're all seeing the same data, we're all aware of the same trends."

Daniel points out that this can be met with hostility from people who see visible metrics as fault-finders, but "this is not intended to highlight somebody who's doing a bad job; this is intended for us to look at how we're performing as a team and where we need help, where we need to unblock some things."

Yes, visibility promotes accountability, but if you're making your data public while keeping the right attitude, then that emphasis is more collective than individual. "It's not about saying, 'This person's too slow and this person's a rockstar,'" Daniel explains. "Definitely celebrate your wins and address your problems. But it's about, like you said, us as a team, 'Are we meeting our goal?'"

You already have some inspiration to report and display your KPIs in effective ways, but for Adam and Daniel's full chat, from Adam's destiny as a New Yorker features writer to Daniel's penchant for reading management books, catch the entire episode on our website, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Amazon Music.