Jason Hiner: In lean times, a business process metrics program might seem like something that's nice to have but not necessary. However, identifying, redesigning, and monitoring just one critical business process can quickly reap benefits in the form of noticeable cost savings or much happier customers.
I'm Jason Hiner, and today on CIO Sanity Savers, I'll share a few pointers to help YOU build a successful metrics program.
Tip No. 1: Measure a few things well
When starting a business process metrics program, select a few measures (or even a single measure) of high value in the short term before you get started on long-term measures. There are three buckets of metrics: customer, financial, and operational. Of course, anything related to finances will immediately get the attention of senior management.
Tip No. 2: Get tight with the business
I had to say it, right? Designing a metrics program in the vacuum of the IT department is never a smart idea. When it comes to business process management, it's imperative to know business priorities and business processes inside and out because this drives the goals and metrics of your program. So if you DON'T know them, that's your first step. Also, ensure that senior executives from the various departments or business units are participating in your metrics program.
Tip No. 3: Understand internal barriers
Even with the right stakeholders on your side, some companies are just culturally resistant to measurement. Resistance often comes from a fear of accountability. For example, if the company decides to measure response time on customer emails, it will put a lot more pressure on workers to meet the company goal of answering all customer e-mails within 24 hours. So you need to dig into the cause of any resistance and help business leaders work through it.
Tip No. 4: Get the balance right
Your goals for a process metrics program will obviously depend on the focus of your business. For instance, a company might have a highly efficient process, but the end product could be terrible. On the other hand, a company might have a high-quality product, but it could be spending too much or taking too long to produce it. That's a tricky balance, and you'll need to understand from business leaders which outcomes are most important.
Tip No. 5: Factor in IT metrics
Once business process metrics have been defined and implemented, it's IT's job to determine how the infrastructure needs to be altered to support the program. You'll need to pinpoint which systems need to be up to support critical business functions. Depending upon the business, this could be e-mail, a sales system, a claims system for an insurance provider, and so on. To prioritize your efforts, you'll need to understand and try to calculate the financial impact to the business of any those systems being down.
Unless you have a highly sophisticated IT department with process and analytics experts, you might need some outside help with your first metrics program. To keep costs down, find a consultant who can train your people on the methods and tools. Improving your business processes requires commitment and careful analysis, but the payoff can be significant -- and it will often come sooner than you expected.
To go deeper on this topic, read Polly Traylor's article that this episode was based on.
I'm Jason Hiner, and this has been an episode of CIO Sanity Savers. For more, go to sanity.techrepublic.com. And if you have questions or your own sanity savings tips, e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those of you on Twitter, you can find me at twitter.com/jasonhiner. Thanks for watching. See you next time.