To measure, or not

  • Published
  • By Daryl Gruneisen
  • Director of Plans
Have you noticed "metrics" have been resurrected at the center? If you have, you are probably wondering why or may figure Total Quality Management is making a come-back. But you shouldn't be alarmed because using metrics makes sense and isn't new. In fact, you use metrics every day in almost everything you do.

Metrics are measurements, and consequently, you use them when you bake a cake and determine you followed the recipe because your cake is edible. If you are a student, you use metrics when you compute your grade point average. When you fill your car with gas, you use metrics to figure how many miles per gallon you get. Politicians use metrics to figure things such as an approval rating. So, why not use metrics at work?

When using metrics at work, it becomes important to measure the right stuff. This is where the work comes in. You have to know what is important and how the results of what you are measuring can help improve your process. 

ARPC is a customer service organization, and all our processes can make a difference in our customers' future. If we provide erroneous information or don't record correct information in personnel records, it could affect their next assignment or even prevent their selection for promotion.

So . . . how do you determine what to measure or even if you should measure? It starts with knowing your process and then figuring out what information you need and how helpful that information is in determining how well you are performing the process. 

Most work centers set goals for the year, and this could be "key" in determining what to measure. If you have goals, you need to measure the parts of your processes that will tell you whether or not you are progressing toward achieving your goals. 

If you don't have goals, or if an important element of a process isn't included in a goal, you'll need to concentrate on what is really important in determining the "state" of your process and measure that. The result of your measurements, when compared over a period of time, should show you are, or are not, meeting your goals.

Don't shy away from metrics. Embrace them, figure out how to use them to your advantage and let them help you improve your processes. Although it may seem like keeping and tracking metrics is extra work, in the long run, if they are used correctly, they should make your job easier and improve our customers' experience. After all, we are really measuring to ensure the customer receives the best possible product and service.