The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Metrics collection and organizational change

Too many times, I've seen organizations spend a great deal of time/money collecting information for no business reason. Just because it can be collected! They do this because one of the side effects (and expectations) of almost any process implementation is that metrics are collected about the deployment.


I am amazed about what is collected and how it is used (or not!). I have two simple rules about any kind of metrics deployment:

  1. If you don’t know how you are going to use it, don't collect it.
  2. If you are going to collect it, start using it immediately.

The reason for these two rules is: if you collect information without using it, it’s rarely collected at a quality level that will ensure that it can be used later. The reason you should start using the data immediately, is that then you are forced to have some confidence level about its quality and the people collecting it know it is being used. That is the only way you will drive variation out quickly.


Most of the information organizations collect may be used by some low level people (probably to put a check in a box), but no value is derived by higher level leadership to make better business decisions. That’s a waste. In fact, for some groups the data is collected "at any cost," because the costs associated with it are not tracked. That just does not cut it for me. After all the reason it's being collected is to improve the business.


Business leaders need to be aware of what is being collected and ensure that they use it. With the cost pressures everyone is under, the belts and suspenders approach of having the data someday because we might need it is likely a luxury we can no longer afford.


That's just standard projects, agile development techniques will likely require a whole other approach to metrics as well.


A minor update for 2013 -- I am not saying that metrics information that is free or a side effect of the business shouldn't be gathered and retained. This post was focused on those metrics that actually cost something to gather. 

Anonymous | ‎10-27-2005 07:37 AM

Numbers on their own often don't mean much. It's the trends in those numbers over a period of time that tell you important things about what's happening in an organisation - but only if the organisation is moderately stable. Radical changes can mean last month's figures have no equivalent this month to compare with, because the activity that generated them has changed out of all recognition. Another good reason to 'collect and use straight away, or don't bother collecting'.

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