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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Cooper

Getting the right metrics

I often hear people say they have metrics in place and they are achieving them, therefore they are being successful, however, this is not always the case.  For example, if they have a response SLA target of 95% and they are hitting 98% but the users aren’t happy, then they’ve got the wrong metric or targets. You see time and time again that generic, out of the box metrics are used as they are “industry standard” or tell the story that someone wants to tell.  This is short sighted and provides you with a false perspective on what’s really going on.  A couple of quick tests you can use are:

  1. Does your customer feedback align with the metrics you are seeing?

  2. When you present the metrics is there any response?  This can mean 2 things

    1. If there is a big challenging response, then you need to see if there is a misalignment

    2. If no-one says anything then do people care about the metric and the value of it changing?

The key to a good metric is one that aligns to your company, department or personal goals, rather than a generic metric that is in the industry as all companies are different.  It can be tricky to align a metric to a company goal but try to focus on a capability it becomes easier and can help build business cases for change. If the company is external facing and wants to improve customer loyalty then a great set of metrics might improve availability of external platforms, website scores and IT security score. Improving these will improve the customers experience and therefore the company’s performance Before you setup your metrics you need to sit with the business, customers or supplier and understand their goals and expectations and also discuss yours, then work back from these data points to agree the Key Performance indicators (KPI’s) that show you’re on track.  This ensures that you both understand the metric and that it provides value.  Remember though, it’s a 2-way discussion and if they ask for a metric that is hard to reach/impossible (often the case in IT), educate them on why this is the case and let them know the cost or trade of.  Often their ask is greater than their need when they discover it will cost twice as much to achieve what they want.  The last thing you want is to become the yes person as you’re now an order taker and not a partner. A couple of final tips:

  1. Consider the unknown that can come to play and ensure you’re not right on the edge of what you can achieve. When baselining a metric try to use a large time frame to understand what you achieve over time.  If you measure ticket volumes over December, is likely to be less that other months as people are on leave and you might set yourself up to fail.

  2. Don’t be afraid to renegotiate over time or commit to a periodic review.  New metrics are hard to nail down, so a review after 3 months is a great way to ensure they are metrics that stand the test of time

Metrics and reporting was something I struggled with for a long time and it’s not easy to get right, so I hope this helped and provided a couple of insights If you liked this newsletter, please share and let you friends and colleagues know as I’d love to help more people!

Example I thought it would be good to show an example of an “Industry Standard” metric that doesn’t work for specificity and I’m using a no-IT one BMI for Sports professionals or those that workout In the UK we have the BMI or Body Mass Index which is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. The BMI calculation divides an adult's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared.

  • below 18.5 – you're in the underweight range

  • between 18.5 and 24.9 – you're in the healthy weight range

  • between 25 and 29.9 – you're in the overweight range

  • between 30 and 39.9 – you're in the obese range

Below is Sonny Bill Williams, a professional rugby league and union player who won 2 world cups with the New Zealand All Blacks, played at the Olympics and held the New Zealand Heavy weight boxing belt. Sonny Bill Williams by the BMI metric is overweight and nearer to obsess than healthy. Now BMI is a good metric for a national population, but it doesn’t work in all cases and takes nothing into account for the individual.  Much like metrics for an organisation, it’s incredibly hard to measure yourself against others as even small changes have a big impact.  Two companies with 10,000 users sounds the same till you find out one has 2 offices in London and the other has 100 around the world Specificity and value to the audience is key


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