You Need to Collect Metrics. Here are Two Approaches

Sunday, April 15, 2018, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

There are two approaches for organizations looking to start collecting metrics.

One is a formal, structured approach and one is an unstructured “let’s just do it” approach.

The Structured Approach

One way to get a metrics program started is to get a set of key stakeholders together and go through a planning exercise. This takes some discipline and forward thinking.

The overall steps would include:

  • Identify criteria for success

    First you need to define what success means to your organization. You would normally look at your business plan, strategy, vision, departmental objectives, etc.

  • Assign potential metrics

    Identify potential metrics for each of your criteria that provide an indication of whether you are achieving success. This is a brainstorming exercise so that you identify as many potential metrics as possible.

  • Look for a balance

    The potential list of metrics should be placed into categories to make sure that they provide a balanced view of the organization. For instance, look for metrics that provide information in the areas such as cost, project success, quality, productivity, client satisfaction, business value, safety, etc.

  • Prioritize the balanced list of metrics

    Depending on how many metrics you have identified, prioritize the list to include only those that have the least cost to collect and provide the most value to the organization. You usually want to end up with 5-8 metrics.

  • Set targets

    The raw metric may be of some interest, but the measure of success comes from comparing your actual results against a predefined target.

  • Collect and analyze the information

    Now the hard part – set up the processes to collect the metrics and analyze them on an ongoing basis.

The Unstructured Approach

There is another approach that can work. The basic philosophy is “just collect something, even if it’s wrong.”

In this approach, some key people in the organization get together and look for information that can be easily captured that provide some indication of success in some areas. Then you start to collect and analyze.

After you collect the data over time, you get a sense for whether the metrics are providing value and whether you need to find more or different ones.

This approach may seem haphazard, but it gets you into the habit of collecting and analyzing metrics first and allows you to improve your metrics over time. I have seen this method work for some organizations.

Summary

Deciding to start collecting metrics is a great first step, but then you must decide how to get started on the work. Many organizations like a deliberate and thoughtful process to determine the metrics program. This can help you be more successful the first time.

The problem is that sometimes you don’t get past the planning to actually collect and analyze the data. Many organizations are not sure what information they need, so they just start to collect and analyze what is available. They then improve the collection and analysis over time. For many organizations it is better to develop good habits than to try to get things perfect the first time.

Let 2018 Be the Year for Getting Serious About Metrics.

Yes, I know. Metrics are hard. Every organization knows they need to get better at collecting and analyzing performance data. But few do a good job. Yes, it is hard work.

We have a great model for setting up a metrics program. We can help you collect and analyze the right set of metrics at the project, program, portfolio or organization level.

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This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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