Metrics for Knowledge Management – Upcoming Webinar

You all know how much I love metrics…  If you are curious about metrics for knowledge management, join me on Wednesday, July 8th at 10am Pacific to discuss how to maintain success with knowledge management — well past the initial push and excitement of standard knowledge management projects.

This is a joint seminar with Melissa Burch of Irrevo; I will focus on metrics, my perennial obsession!

You can find more information and register here.

What are wireframes and why are they important to website design?

People are visual, forever drawn to images, color, and movement. And yet, when creating a new website an essential step is to create boring, black-and-white, text-heavy mockups called wireframes. Here’s an (intentionally very small) example of a wireframe, with a designer note on the left-hand-side:

and the corresponding colorful final page excerpt:

Why waste time designing wireframes when it’s much more pleasant to stare at the final pages, that leave nothing to the imagination? Simple: wireframes allow the team to plan the structure and placement of elements for the website. They are just as essential as a floor plan is to build a house.

The wireframes show the placement and priorities of elements on a page, either as drawings (usually PDFs, as shown above) or in clickable prototypes. Either method keeps the discussion focused on content, avoiding our natural biases that enter the moment color and specific typography are introduced.

Wireframes are iterative (like a floor plan), allowing plenty of opportunities for collaboration. And they can be tested with users to confirm the design team’s choices or to provide  evidence for changes to the plan.

Once all of the decisions have been made about placement and priorities, we move into the visual design phase, styling the pages with the final look and feel. Besides color and typography, we specify button, link, and dropdown styling. No need to go back and move things around; those decisions were made during wireframes! This saves everyone headaches, and preserves budget and schedule goals.

The next time your website designer shows wireframes, don’t think s/he is being lazy: it’s an effective technique to structure the design process.

Please contact me if you would be interested in restructuring your support website, or read more about our process.

The FT Word – June 2015

The FT Word

The FT Word is a free monthly newsletter with support management tips. To subscribe, click here. The subscription list is absolutely confidential; we never sell, rent, or give information about our subscribers.


to the June 2015 edition of the FT Word. Topics for this month:

FT Works in the News

Predictive analytics: Barry Duplantis of Hortonworks and I shared his experience building a predictive scorecards at last month’s TSW Spring conference. If you would like a copy of the presentation, please ask.

SaaS Support: I gave a talk on the differences and similarities between supporting on-premise software and SaaS at last month’s ASP Symposium. Let me know if you’d like a copy of that presentation.

The Art of Support II. After a conference-heavy month, I am planning a book-heavy summer… Richard Farrell and I have started working on a second edition for the venerable Art of Support book. Published in 1996, it can use some refreshing, starting with the Tools chapter, which reads like a time capsule!

Have you read The Art of Support? If so, dust off your copy and tell us what you think we should keep, discard, or change. And if not, we welcome your ideas for what topics should be covered in a book for support managers and executives about managing their organizations, 19 years after our initial attempt.

Please add your ideas to the list.



Curious about something? Send me your suggestions for topics — or add one in the comments — and your name will appear in future newsletters.

Françoise Tourniaire
FT Works
650 559 9826

About FT Works

FT Works helps technology companies create and improve their support operations. Areas of expertise include designing support offerings, creating hiring plans to recruit the right people quickly, training support staff to deliver effective support, defining and implementing support processes, selecting support tools, designing effective metrics, and support center audits. See more details at

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Balanced Scorecards for Support

Many thanks to Stephen LaRoche for suggesting this topic (and thank you for your patience, Stephen; it took me many months to publish this post!)

What is the Balanced Scorecard?

The balanced scorecard is an integrated system for planning and management created by Kaplan and Norton, iconized in a four-quadrant dashboard but with much more ambitious goals and scope of an integrated strategy implementation system, including setting objectives (KPIs) in addition to monitoring results (see more on Wikipedia). The Balanced Scorecard approach was developed for use with an entire company or organization rather than a specific department, but it can be adapted successfully to the needs of support. The four quadrants of the Balanced Scorecard include:

  • Financial performance
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Business processes (efficiency)
  • Organizational capability

Why use a Balanced Scorecard ?

A balanced scorecard approach forces scrutiny of areas beyond standard financial measurements, and past the pure efficiency metrics that support organizations love to death. Its very structure helps contain an over-abundance of metrics. And it is familiar to non-support executives, so tends to be well accepted.

If you have trouble imagining a balanced scorecard, this example (for a regional airline) may be helpful.

Making the Balanced Scorecard work for support

If you’d like to adopt the structure of the balanced scorecard, the first step is to define KPI (Key Performance Indicators) for each of the quadrants. I like to start with stories. For instance:

  • Financial: We want to contribute profits to the larger organization (or, for cost centers: we want to be thrifty of the organization’s resources)
  • Customer satisfaction: We want customers to demonstrate high satisfaction with our services
  • Business processes: We want our internal processes to run cleanly
  • Organization: We want to do the above without burning our people out

Translating the stories into KPIs may yield something like this:

  • Financial: hit the support revenue and support margin goals
  • Customer satisfaction: achieve ratings of 8/10 on the transactional survey
  • Business processes: keep the case backlog under 2 weeks’ worth of cases; achieve X unique visits to the support website
  • Organization: unwanted turnover < 10%; 2 training days/head/quarter

Then, you need to decline the goals all the way to the individual contributor’s level. Some of the goals above translate perfectly to individuals. Others need adapting. For instance:

  • Financial: close X cases per day on average
  • Customer satisfaction: achieve ratings of 8/10 on individual surveys
  • Business processes: close 80% of cases in one week or less; write or update knowledge base documents that are reused 25 times per quarter
  • Organization: participate in 2 training days/quarter

Then, and only then, worry about how to extract the data from your various tracking systems. You may need to compromise some at this stage, but do not start with a compromise!

(And of course, review and repeat ongoingly.)

Do you use a balanced scorecard approach? How does it work for you?