Measuring What Matters
By Maureen Vavra
Our clients often call on us at StrataFusion Group to help with Business Intelligence projects to validate and monitor major corporate initiatives. BI and Big Data have become fundamental in managing profitability and improving efficiency for business today. Managing with data can also make a big difference in smaller internal change management or projects, too.
It doesn’t need to be too complex, and the payback is clearer understanding up front and a better grasp of what an initiative needs to accomplish to be successful. I find that working with clients to identify a few key measures is a good way to quantify the level of change they want and can realistically achieve.
For projects or initiatives, define success before you start – which needle do you want to move?
Any big effort has to boil down to a few quantifiable outcomes, usually along the lines of the project management mantras of cost/schedule/performance. Define your outcomes and your tolerance for variance. Make it all explicitly clear.
For any change, the Performance area is the most important. Before you start to plan a project or a major change, define the outcome, and what success looks like. Make sure you can measure impact.
Keep a close eye on the business imperatives you don’t want to adversely impact – and reward people for maintaining their high standards. It’s called “managing multiple priorities.”
Measure what matters – don’t spend a fortune on reporting in the early stages
Ask the people doing the job or receiving the service what really matters.
If any effort is monitoring more than 4-5 key measures, you have overthought it.
On a “replace functionality” project, cut the number of reports you generate in half (even if you just did that.)
Think about metrics as if you’re driving a car – how many dials can you watch and still get somewhere?
Got a problem or roadblock? Value the naysayer
Vocal employees are saying what others are thinking. Examine the barrier: real? big? how can it be tackled? Make it a measure you knock down.
Accept it: good employees who are negative about a new project or change usually have a point – get them to quantify why they think something won’t succeed and help turn it around.
Challenge critical thinkers deliberately: to suss out what could go wrong, develop risk mitigation tactics, and help quantify and test the system for failure points.
Take a victory lap that boosts morale
Set solid milestones for internal initiatives, monitor and acknowledge when they are met. Recognizing specifically what worked, why something is more efficient, provides better job clarity.
If something fails and you catch it early, credit your measures for giving you an early warning – that’s a major value add.
Tie your measures to the bottom line, saving or making $, improving quality, increasing Customer Sat – it keeps the CFO happy.
People like to be rewarded for specifics, to know what to do to succeed – show them that something they did made a difference.
Finally, once a change management initiative or project completes, having quantifiable data can be invaluable in assessing key learnings and planning for follow-on activities as well. If there is a larger BI or reporting effort required, the foundation has been set.