Metrics: How to Improve Key Business Results Part 24

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Step 2: Determine if the service fits within your predefined categories.

If the service does not fit within your predefined categories-is it because you missed the inclusion of a particular category? Or is it a service that doesn't fit within your mission? If the service doesn't fit, perhaps you should stop providing it.

Step 3: Identify the service providers.

Who within the organization is responsible for the delivery of the service? It may be a cross-unit effort, or it could be part of the definition of the org chart. The ideal situation would require finding the product/service providers meant going across the org chart to identify the different places where contributors exist. Rarely is a service provided by only one person or unit-even in a functionally-focused organization.

Basically, what are the a.s.sets involved in the provision of the service or product? What and who goes into satisfying the customers' needs? These insights are some of the benefits a service catalog gives the organization.

Step 4: Identify the customer base.

A simple way to look at identifying the customer base is to look at who uses the outputs from the service/product. It really doesn't matter if the final customer is internal or external to the organization. It doesn't matter if the service/product is a "for-profit" or "not-for-profit" endeavor. You need to know who the customers are. Is it a large customer base? Is the customer base a niche market?

Step 5: What is the service environment?

What is the service's compet.i.tion? Is it a "monopolized" service? Does the customer have choices in who provides the service?

Is it a local market?

Is it a geographic market?

Is it a national market?

Step 6: What is the service level agreement?

Service level agreements are essentially contracts between the organization and its customers. It clearly defines, for anyone interested, what will be delivered and how it will be delivered. If possible, it should be more than what is agreed to be provided-it should capture the customers' expectations.

If you can't directly ask customers about their expectations, which is the case when you have a large customer base, you need to determine the expectations from existing information. You can glean expectations from sources that explicitly state the requirements. Written agreements, statements of work, or contracts are good sources of information. Many times your own marketing literature will capture the level of service promised or wanted. Sometimes you have to find expectations from implied or suggested inputs like informal promises made by one department for another or requests by the customer.

Another source is the feedback you'll receive in the data collection process when you are measuring the health of the service. Even though you haven't developed your metrics program yet, you very likely have already been using customer satisfaction feedback tools like surveys, comment cards, or unsolicited feedback.

Regardless of where you get the information, the goal is to determine what the customer expects of the service. This will be useful when developing expectations for the metrics.

Step 7: Costs.

If it's a fee-based service, what is the cost? Even when you are not a profit center, there may be "costs" to obtaining the service. It could require a members.h.i.+p of some type or that you are a registered purchaser/owner of a product. Some of our services had no other a.s.sociated costs beyond customers being either a faculty, staff, or student at our inst.i.tution.

These steps are also logical headers for the catalog. You can organize them using your service categories. You can also organize them using any of the earlier "steps." If you create an electronic (online) version of your catalog, you could allow searches or sorting on any of these steps.

There are other important questions you can ask and answer about your services. One of these crosses the boundaries between a Service/Product Health focused catalog and one built around Process Health. What are the key/core services? This question doesn't answer a customer question, but it can be answered by them. The answer is useful for the Service/Product Healthbased catalog, so that you know which services to measure (a.s.suming you don't have the resources to measure them all). From the Process Health-based viewpoint, the key/core services tell you other important information.

Process Health (Efficiency) Service Catalog.

If you will use the results of the service catalog for internal process improvement (the second quadrant of the Answer Key specifically), you will need to ask a few additional questions.

Step 8: Key/Core services.

The cla.s.sification of the services and identification of ones considered "key" or "core" to the organization's success can be determined by asking some of the following questions: Which services are core to the organization's success? Which are the main income drivers?

Which are seen as the customer-generators?

Which services are of higher priority? Where should most of the resources be allocated?

Where should the best resources be allocated?

Which services are seen as representative of the organization's brand? Which services have to be done particularly well?

Which will help set the customers' view of the organization as a whole?

Step 9: Dependencies.

Along with the identification of which services/products are essential to the organization's success, it is also helpful to understand where and how a service is dependent upon another service. This builds toward the clarification of service families. The questions you'll want to ask include the following: Are there internal dependencies? What is required to deliver the service?

Are other services dependent on this service?

How does this service fit into the overall service architecture of the organization? Is this a foundational service?

Is this service a pillar for other services? For a key service?

When you a.n.a.lyze the services in the service catalog, you will use these two possible viewpoints (effectiveness or efficiency) to determine how you will build your metric. So, it comes down to the root question (again). Is the root question a Service/Product Healthtype of question, or is it focused on Process Health? There are, of course, opportunities to use both measures. If your root question is not about a group of services, but about a specific service, you may need information from each type of catalog.

Let's say your root question is "How can I increase the customer base for service X?" This question needs a lot of work. How much of an increase? Why do you want to increase the customer base? What is the actual thing you want to achieve? But, let's use this as our starting point. Perhaps the unit that provides this service needs to increase its customer base by 30 percent in order for the organization to consider it a viable part of the service portfolio. So, the manager of this unit, the service provider, wants simply to know how his unit can survive.

The answers to this very specific question can use information from multiple quadrants. It will be important to have information from the customers' viewpoint. Since your goal is to increase the number of customers (by 30 percent), it should be obvious that you need to see the service from the customers' perspective.

You will also benefit from looking at the efficiency with which you deliver the service. If you can improve the delivery, usage, and or customer satisfaction, you'll have a good chance of gaining more customers. While Effectiveness measures will tell you if you are succeeding (and where to focus your efforts), Efficiency measures will normally tell you "how" to improve. For example, if you determine that you could benefit from delivering the service in a more timely manner (faster), you'll want to look at ways to do it more efficiently-to do the internal processes "faster." Of course, you'll also want to ensure that you are delivering it at a high quality. You can't improve the speed of delivery and have drastic drops in quality. Both of these are internal process viewpoints.

You can even possibly benefit from some Future Health measures. You will likely need to prove the need for additional resources. You will also likely want a.s.surances that if your unit reaches the goal (30 percent increase) that it will be spared the hatchet. This means that you may want items in the strategic plan that include if-then statements. If you succeed, what happens? Of course, if you fail, the consequences can also be captured. Do you have to achieve the goal in a month? A year? Three years? Is incremental improvement over time acceptable?

So, the goal that is driving your efforts may have come from the Future Health quadrant. It may well be a part of the strategic plan. It can also be considered a "project" or part of a program. In any case, the results are obviously future-focused.

So, does the Employee View fit here also? How does the Organizational Health play? First off, it doesn't have to. Note that the Future Health's inclusion wasn't necessary. Effectiveness and Efficiency are critical, but measures of the strategic level or the project/program levels are not as critical. That said, let's see if it fits.

The first question is how will the results of the efforts affect the workers? Will jobs be lost if the service is deleted? Will the workers be laid off or will they be rea.s.signed? If they succeed, are their jobs secured? If so, for how long? How will the situation affect morale? How will the success or failure affect morale of the unit? How will it affect the morale of the rest of the organization? All of these questions are within the Organizational Health quadrant and all are valid concerns.

Granted that the questions for the third and fourth quadrants didn't require the service catalog at all, but I wanted to give you the full picture of how the measures from the different quadrants could be used to answer a specific root question about a particular service. The catalog was helpful especially for questions derived from the Service/Product and Process Health quadrants.

Bonus Material.

Service catalogs are essentially a mature behavior, and there are others that work well with a Metrics Program.

In Why Organizations Struggle So Hard to Improve So Little, I warned against trying to implement mature behaviors in an organization suffering from immaturity. Metrics was listed as one of the most risky ones to undertake.

Along with metrics, some of the other behaviors that are difficult to implement can actually be positively affected if you just attempt a metric program. Even if you are not fully successful, you can have influence on your organization's adoption of the following: Process maps/process definitions Process improvement methodologies Training plans Strategic plans Customer feedback tools These can be encouraged greatly by a metric program. As discussed in Chapter 13 on standards and benchmarks, metrics can drive the organization toward other improvement efforts. When you are trying to develop a process health picture of the organization, you will benefit from having your processes defined (much as the Service/Product Health metrics benefit from a Service/Product catalog). To improve something, you need to understand it. A clear and complete definition of your processes is a necessary starting point for improving those processes.

A good process definition will help you improve the process just through the capture of it.

A metric program can make the need for process definitions obvious to the organization-making its acceptance easier. These process maps are usually the byproduct of a process improvement methodology.

Your organization may have already selected a preferred process improvement methodology. These methods-from Total Quality, to Six Sigma, to Lean, etc.-will help define a lot of the information you will use in your metrics. And your metrics may help define which methods will work best for your organization.

Another tool that will be encouraged by metrics and in turn will support your metric program is a training plan. Positional and personal professional development plans will directly support metrics built around the Employee Viewpoint and Process Health.

Strategic plans are a necessity for the Future Health quadrant and for the future of your organization. The metrics for strategic progress, and the strategic plan, work together to build toward a desired future.

Customer feedback, which comes in a myriad of forms, can also be driven by the Service/Product Health metric. This one is pretty obvious, but by doing metrics, you drive the organization to inst.i.tute the concept of feedback into the day-to-day operations of the organization, rather than make it only an annual or event-driven activity. The organization will start to seek out, capture, and use customer feedback as a way of doing business.

A metric program will drive more than just a.n.a.lyzing, reporting, and investigating the things being measured. It can have side benefits as a catalyst for other improvement efforts, tools, and byproducts. It is a necessary stepping stone to developing a Product/Service Healthfocused metrics program and is a great tool for maturing your organization. It will support or inspire the creation of strategic plans, process improvement efforts, service level agreements, and clear expectations. As with most improvement efforts, if done right, you will gain many side-benefits throughout the journey.


The service catalog is not a mandatory component of a metrics program. It is a useful tool, especially if your metrics are service-focused, as in a Service/ Product Health metric.

Trying to develop a service catalog can lead you into negative, resistance-laden encounters. The same FUD factors that can adversely affect your gathering of data can also negatively affect your creation of a valid catalog. But the risk is well worth it. You will benefit in many ways-from learning more about your organization and customers, to determining what you should and shouldn't be doing. The service catalog and the effort to create it, can be a catalyst for changing your organization's focus from a siloed, "me-first" att.i.tude to one founded on teamwork. Sometimes all it takes to bring a group of people together is a common goal-and the service catalog provides that common focus.

All of the quadrants in the Answer Key can "play" in the service catalog, but it is likely that you will have either an Effectiveness- or an Efficiency-based service catalog. Remember to leverage the indirect benefits (by-products) of the process of creating and maintaining your catalog.


There are many mature behaviors that a metrics program can encourage and work well with. The service catalog may be the most obvious for the Service/Product Health metrics. Others fit the other quadrants of the Answer Key better, as follows: Process Health: Process maps and definitions Organizational Health: Professional development plans, employee feedback, and process improvement methods Future Health: Strategic plans The service catalog is an excellent tool for an organization seeking to do general improvement efforts. It can help the organization understand what business it's in.

By bouncing the service catalog against the organization's mission (and possibly vision), the organization can determine if it's doing the right things (Effectiveness). The details of the service catalog (who provides, to whom, with what expectations, and at what cost) can provide valuable insights by themselves if the organization is doing things the right way (Efficiency).

Establis.h.i.+ng Standards and Benchmarks.

Metrics: How to Improve Key Business Results Part 24

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Metrics: How to Improve Key Business Results Part 24 summary

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