How Do You Measure Your Success? - by Blaine Scott

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McDanielCA
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How Do You Measure Your Success? - by Blaine Scott

Postby McDanielCA » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:40 am

Are any of you using metrics on a daily basis to determine the success of your day and the work that you perform? I certainly am.
I guess the root cause of my sickness began as a youngster in a small Idaho farming community. It seemed that metrics were used to determine the success or failure of almost everything we did. How many bales of hay could be rolled in the field in one hour, how many sprinkler pipes could you move before you were eaten alive by mosquitoes, how many aluminum cans could be collected per quarter mile, how many fish could be caught with just one worm? I know...it doesn't seem like an interesting way to spend your childhood, but it did help to establish a strong foundation for my future, and perhaps punishment, for the IT support staff who feel the results of my childhood learning.

I have been employed at the church for almost twenty years now and have focused primarily on the support side of the business and the last six years as the Director of Support. I eat, sleep, and breathe customer support concepts and ideas every day. Exciting? Absolutely; because I get to meet often with customers and help them do their job faster and more efficiently. ICS is focused on being fast and on-time in our services to our customers. That statement alone tells me that measurement is critical to our success. In order to improve our speed to delivery we need to have metrics in place that make a significant difference, and that help us identify the potholes in our information superhighway.

So what types of things should we measure?

Metrics should have a specific purpose and be used to influence behavior in a positive direction. Some of the key metrics that we have used in the support organization are:


  • Percent of incidents that were resolved within the SLA (Service Level Agreements with the customers).


  • Time to Resolution. How long did it take to solve the problem? I watch the oldest ten incidents and encourage my staff to keep their incident tickets off of this list.


  • Customer Satisfaction. ICS Support measures specific information regarding the customers’ interaction with the staff. We also measure staff skills, such as technical ability, timeliness, and customer service attitudes.


  • Trends in the number of incidents and service requests.


  • Volume of incidents per product. We also track the top ten products that cause incidents. It makes for some great feedback to the product managers.

This is just a few of the many metrics we use in our organization. I believe, however, that it is possible to over-measure. When the process of measuring takes longer than the benefit you are receiving from the measurement, you're measuring the wrong thing.

Perhaps the ICS employees’ eyes glaze over when my reports are created and published, but we've seen a significant improvement as focus has been brought into different areas. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased, incident management time to resolution has decreased, and the support staff understands what contributes to their performance reviews. This success causes staff to become more enthusiastic to watch the metrics.

I am very interested to know what you have found to be the top five metrics that you use to measure your success and the success of your organizations.

So, the next time you are catching that fourth fish with the same worm, remember that you may have just set a new personal best. It is time to evaluate your metrics and perhaps elevate your goal for your next fishing trip.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:25 am

Yes, it is possible to overdo it. A very interesting book is Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality. It makes a very strong case against management by numbers. The real problem is once a metric is set up, there's many ways to "goose" the metric while actually hurting the company.

That's not to say no metrics should be used, but one needs to aware of the unintended consequences.

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Postby bscott-p40 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 2:20 pm

I agree Russell...

For example...If we were to measure the volume of incident tickets that are resolved by a technician, it could become a game of who can enter the most tickets into the system for trivial things, and may not necessarily measure the value of the work to the customer. In this case, the measurement would encourage an inappropriate behavior, so it probably shouldn't be openly used. Some measurements, however, may be used behind the scenes by management to see patterns of behavior and performance in their staff.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:22 pm

bscott wrote:For example...If we were to measure the volume of incident tickets that are resolved by a technician, it could become a game of who can enter the most tickets into the system for trivial things,


To really damage things grade the department or tech on how many tickets they resolve. :eek:

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Postby MarkEWaite-p40 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:10 pm

I have been impressed with the writing of Cem Kaner on software engineering metrics and the way they can be "gamed". Some of his articles include:
I've not yet found any metrics that I trusted enough to use without deep, careful thought. Even with deep, careful thought, the metrics we're using are still "gamed" frequently
.

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Postby thedqs » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:42 pm

Even if you try peer/customer review matrices (similar to the education system), or any other matrix you will still have a bias which will. And if you don't have a bias in your matrix then it will be utterly useless and give you no insight. (A modified No-Free-Lunch theorem) so the best you can do is bias the matrix to what you want as a result. (Quality would get more customer reviews, quantity would be the number of tickets resolved, etc)
- David

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Postby bscott-p40 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:15 pm

One of my favorite quotes is one by President Monson where he states,
"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance
is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."

Thomas S. Monson. Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S.
Monson. Deseret Books, 1985

In order for us to see constant improvement in the work we are doing, or in the performance of our staff, it is important to have ways to measure performance and ultimately to assist in measuring accountability.

I encourage each of my staff to have specific goals they are working to achieve. One of the key factors of a good goal is that it is measureable. If you can't measure whether the goal is completed successfully...it probably isn't a good goal.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:42 pm

bscott wrote:In order for us to see constant improvement in the work we are doing, or in the performance of our staff, it is important to have ways to measure performance and ultimately to assist in measuring accountability.


Please consider the book I mentioned earlier Dr. Deming: The American Who Taught the Japanese About Quality. Used paperbacks are quite cheap.


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