Measuring What Matters
By Jenni Doyle
I worked in an organization once that had their managers spend an extreme amount of time on Excel and PowerPoint. Their job was to build operational reports about system performance, open tickets, project milestone trends, average hair loss of middle-aged people, you get the idea….
Measuring performance is important. You can’t get better if you don’t know where you are starting from. How much time should you really spend measuring? At what point should you spend less time measuring and more time making things better? Measure what matters.
Determining what your want to resolve within your organization is critical. Make a list and throw it all on there. Involve your teams, your clients, anyone who has some stake in the game. Then play a game of word-association. Which topics are duplicates? Which ones are related? If you can group them into logical topics, then you can plan a little easier. Which ones are short-term wins? Which ones are game-changers that will make for lasting gains or allow you to tackle other areas? Try to narrow it down to a Top 5 based on priority and where you have the resources to work on the areas.
Can It Be Measured?
Once you have figured out your areas of improvement, you can assess how you will measure each of the areas for current performance. Not only do you have to review what tools you have to measure but what data is relevant to measuring the impact of the changes that you are making. For example, you want to improve MTTR (Mean Time To Respond) – so how are you going to capture the Response? What is considered a Response? An Email? Are you going to have your teams log the response in a tool? Is this really feasible? Be careful about what you decide to measure and how you measure it, as you may face resistance from your teams if you are asking them to work extra hours to log data to measure a change they are not totally on-board with in the first place. Doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tackle it, just means that you have to address it in a different way.
Measure What Matters
Once you have a measurement plan in place for your Top 5 issues, then you are ready to decide on which ones to tackle. Not all of them at the same time – pace yourself! They are all going to make a difference (based on your initial assessment) so which ones do you have the resources to tackle now? Which ones do you have the resources readily available to work on the change? Pick your 1 or 2 efforts and then launch your effort.
Put down the email. This is a project. It has a defined start (today) and a schedule, and a scope. What is your overall objective for improvement? What is your timeline for making the change? What milestones do you want to achieve along the way? Build your team of people to help with your effort and get their buy-in during your launch meeting. Help them see how this change is going to make things better for your Customers or Employees. Why should they invest their extra time (ha!) on this effort. They need to be advocates for the change so they have to be bought in from the start. Take the time to host a Kick-off Meeting to launch your effort. Get your team excited about taking on this new effort and the difference that they can make to the organization. Explain the measurement plan and how it compliments the project milestones and the team’s ability to track their progress. And post the progress – let others see the great work that your team is doing!
As you continue down the road for your change effort, eventually, you will hit your goal. You have to consider how you will continue to measure the ongoing effectiveness of your change without the extra efforts. Can you re-use your existing reports to measure on a monthly basis instead of daily or weekly? Without a lot of overhead? Automating your reporting may be critical to validating that you implemented sustainable change.
Change is required of any efficient organization but making sure that you are changing the right things and not spending more time measuring than changing – is important to the overall success of your organization.
What methods have you used to launch a change effort in your organization? How did you balance the need to measure the rate of change against the additional workload to gather the data?
Jenni Doyle is a leader with over 12 years of experience in various areas of IT including business analysis, project management, application development, and vendor management. My experience has shown me that hard-work at the start of an effort will increase the likelihood of successful results at the end. Because of this belief, I am a believer in quality business analysis, vendor management, and project management. You can read more from Jenni on her blog, Perspective – by Jenni Doyle.