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3 min read

Create a free KPI tracking system in a few hours (thanks to APIs)

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A story of data and tools

We all need some key data to run our project, our company but we have tons of them, spread over multiple tools and generated every time we interact with them.

We choose at Meta API to create a dashboard to make our key data available to everyone who bring value to our company: employees, investors and advisors because we believe these data help people to see "the big picture" to be invested by common objectives and, more important, to see their impact in their day-to-day work.

So we create Polaris, the "North Star" for our company to display and track these KPI and we want to build them from the most relevant data.


Polaris-KPI-only-emoji
Polaris : our homemade tool to track our KPI. Of course, there is some data instead of emoji 😉

We figured out two things :

  • We need to get data from multiple tools, multiple SaaS platform (like Stripe, Matomo, Google Spreadsheets) and our own data, the most valuable

  • We need to process these data: filter, aggregate and transform to make them relevant and easy to understand for everyone.

A journey through an ocean of data

Our data are nowadays spread on three different tools:

  • Our own API, where we can count our users, their activity and some global metrics like the number of requests made on dev environment and prod environment

  • Matomo : our privacy-kind tool for getting some statistics on our website, blog and platform and tracking some key events

  • Stripe : use for payment and invoicing

In the future, we want also to plug in:

  • Pipedrive : to follow our sales process and track our prospects engagement

  • Google Ads : to combine the data of our campaigns with effects on registered users and visits on our website

How we build Polaris with Meta-API
We would like to create a quick tool, in less than two days of work to display these data.

Our platform, Meta-API, is made to connect different APIs and process the data the way we want, using Javascript code, to return only relevant and refined figures.

We split our work between Marcel and myself :

  • Marcel has to create a frontend using React able to send API request to our Meta-API platform and then process the data to display them nicely on a webpage. Of course, this page needs to be secured with a password.

  • I had to create all the Spells (API integrations blocks with their own endpoints) responsible to gather data from the different API and process them in order to have the simplest JSON file coming to the frontend.

Here a back-stage look on the Spells we created :


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Polaris' Spell for processing Stripe data

Here some highlights about this Spell:

  • We need to use a loop to process all the invoices, because data coming from Stripe's API are paginated (using a cursor index)

  • Normally, we only need two connectors : one for getting the initial page of invoice and the second one (the same one) to get more invoices if we hit the pagination limit. We double it because we retrieve, at the same time, the previous period to see the evolution for month-to-month for example

  • We all to personalize using request's params the period we want to retrieve : 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, etc.

So in less than 130 lines of code, we create and abstracted API able to:

  • Made requests to Stripe's API, taking care of pagination and retrieving at the same time two different periods

  • Filtering the invoice based on our own workflow

  • Calculate our MRR and counting the number of clients

  • Returning all data in a simple JSON object, easy to consume on the frontend

  • Be consumed on any client, backend or frontend, with no dependencies

As we created this Spell, all the monitoring is done automatically and if Stripe is changing it's API, we will be notified.


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Our monitoring interface to check status and performances of our Spells


We created 4 different Spells like this one :

  • One for Stripe's data

  • One connected to our endpoint to retrieve global statistics

  • One connected to a specific endpoint to follow our user's onboarding process

  • One for Matomo's statistics

And for our upcoming tools and usages, we'll just need to add more Spells or to improve the existing ones to extend their capabilities. All these endpoints are secured, monitored and can be used on API client we need.

What Polaris brings to everyone and why we'll make it our only "North Star" to follow

Making Polaris available to our team brings 3 major changes to our organization:

  • Anyone can look on these data which create stimulate discussions and ideas on how we can improve them. Everyone feels both concerned and powerful over this metrics.

  • We know we can add more KPI in a snap, from any tools and without spending days maintaining them.

  • We have the power to correlate data from different tools without depending on their built-in integration, making us closer to our users and customers.

Data is power when you need to take enlightened decisions for your company: so take them and share them to your teams, with your own tools and your own style. It's the only one that matters.

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