This content, written by Nick Walker, was initially posted in Looker Blog on Jul 12, 2020. The content is subject to limited support.
At Pike13, we strive to help our customers spend more time doing what they love by reducing the stress that comes from managing the things they don’t. From fitness studios, martial arts dojos and music schools, our customers leverage ’s software to take care of business activities such as scheduling, client management, reports, and billing.
Since joining the Pike13 team, I’ve spent my time supporting this mission by building out reporting frameworks, both for our customers and for our internal teams. Externally, these have been in the form of in-product reporting, which enable customers to maximize their revenue with product features like the Failed Transactions and Unpaid Visits reports. Internally, we use reports to power our organization, our business decisions, and to evangelize the value of good, clean data.
With everything we had accomplished with data, we knew we could accomplish more to expand upon the insights our customers could use to run their businesses and continually improve our own understanding and efficiency.
The limitations of in-house reporting
Our existing solution, a simple internal reporting framework I’d built with Ruby, made publishing and maintaining the old reporting system a tedious and time-consuming task. While we had an expansive internal reporting database, the limitations of our in-house system meant what we could provide to our employees was limited by the time and resources we could devote to manual reporting. We needed a solution that would make it easier for employees to track and improve their own performance and to share and publish reports to help their teammates do the same.
Beyond wanting to provide increased internal reporting capabilities, we wanted to offer more reporting functionalities within our product to our customers. Without a dedicated business intelligence solution, we were having to repeatedly update our homegrown, in-product reporting framework to stay on top of performance and provide various degrees of report customization for our customers. Not only did each version of the reporting system take multiple man-years to develop, but it often required deprecating functionality in previous versions to maintain satisfactory performance.
Looker: More than just a solution
To solve these challenges and improve both our internal and external reporting, we chose to implement Looker. And while we initially thought that would be the extent of our data goals, we quickly found the benefits of the platform expanded far past simply being a replacement reporting tool.
Since our implementation, the benefits have been quickly noticed both internally and externally by our customers.
Less maintenance, more development
Historically, our in-product reporting functionality was built manually, which made it difficult to maintain and expand on over time. Today with Looker, our dev team has more time to focus on developing the core of our product, rather than spending up to one man-week whenever we wanted to add new reports or update old reports, which typically was every month or two.
Value with dashboard customizations and functionalities
How people need to view data often changes as new goals are set, additional KPIs are measured, or adjusted as goals and the market changes. For our teams, we love that the visualizations capabilities in Looker make it easy to see our business, spot trends, and identify new questions and opportunities. The ease of customizing tiles, and adding descriptions, and adjusting formats to fit different regional and team goals makes it easier for everyone to look at the dashboards and quickly get value that they can use to understand and do their job better.
Ease of query customization for customers
Some of our customers have special reporting needs that require customized queries. Before Looker, we had to manually run these reports on a weekly/monthly basis prior to emailing them out. Today, we’re helping our customers learn how to build their own reports and save them as a Look or dashboard, enabling them to self-service their own reporting needs and run queries when they need additional answers.
This is an exciting new feature we’ve now been able to provide to our customers. Currently, a lot of our users have to change/update filters and run reports every week or month for their business - a task made much easier when it’s scheduled. Over 20% of our customers that use Looker schedule their reports, with a majority of the reports being scheduled on the 1st of each month, followed by Friday afternoons.
The drill-down feature is one we already had available to customers within our product. Looker has improved the drill-to-detail experience and makes it easy to add more actions and act on insights gleaned from drilling further into the data.
For our customers that own multiple businesses, the flexible permission controls in Looker allow them to view all their business data together, while also allowing them to compare to spot trends, identify, and then implement best practices across sites. This helps our customers to identify new ways to save cost and power high standards across the board.
What’s still to come
Our journey with Looker has already proven to be invaluable for creating new and more powerful internal reports that help us gain insights into the running of Pike13.
While we’ve been able to provide Looker to our more sophisticated customers, our vision it to make it accessible to all our customers by:
- building out more dashboards and reports for running their business
- offering simplified options to avoid overwhelming the user
- optimizing how we use Looker for localization