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The Best of CSI, Part 3

Creating a Metrics Program
Originally Published on November 30, 2010

Every organization should create a metrics program to ensure that business and process improvement goals are being achieved. We need to have the ability to show that processes achieve results and we must review and schedule process audits.

A metrics program describes the measurements needed to achieve business goals. It also identifies how to collect the data and how to use the information to continually improve performance. An effective program focuses on what you should measure to achieve business goals, individual process performance and process interfaces.

Each of the best practice frameworks stress metrics as a way of assuring continual improvement. ITIL defines the "7 Step Process" for identifying, collecting, analyzing and using data.  The Deming Cycle's "Check" stage requires that we have methods for monitoring and measuring processes.  The Balanced Scoreboard looks at performance from multiple perspectives.
Here are some useful steps for creating a meaningful program:
  • Step 1: Determine Management’s Vision
  • Step 2: Identify Critical Success Factors
  • Step 3: Identify Key Performance Indicators
  • Step 4: Identify metrics
  • Step 5: Verify metrics are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely)
  • Step 6: Identify required data elements
  • Step 7: Test and pilot your metrics and reports
  • Step 8: Document your metrics and reports
  • Step 9: Place approved metrics and reports under change management control
  • Step10: Continually review reports for effectiveness

The key to a successful metric program is to keep it simple.  Avoid measuring what you can, instead of what you should.  Produce metrics that are sufficient to control monitor and predict performance. Leverage automation whenever possible possible to analyze performance and look for trends. It is particularly important to communicate your findings via dashboards, presentations, reports, newsletters, portals or  intranet sites.  Celebrate achievements and encourage continued progress and feedback. If metrics are moving in the wrong direction, investigate quickly and determine an appropriate course of action.

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