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What? Me Measure?

As every consultant can (and probably will) tell you, process metrics are “invaluable for monitoring, evaluating and improving operational performance (blah blah blah).”

Yet most companies carry on without them. What? You thought you were the only one? Well rest assured you’re not.

It is common enough to believe your organization is behind everyone else in almost anything—best practices, process automation, compliance. But it’s a big world and wherever you may be on the spectrum of any of the above areas, you have plenty of company.

There is good news: If you are reading this, you are probably in the top 20 percent of all organizations—in the group that bothers to search out and read information, because you are engaged in thinking about improvement and looking for ways to do things better. And that’s even if the daily workload, lack of support and an insufficient budget prevent you from following through on many ideas.

So it is with metrics. Despite countless reasoned articles, reports and conference presentations, a lot of P2P and AP departments do not measure their processes. Yet metrics actually can help process change and improvement.

Metrics provide you a view into what’s going on. Measuring can confirm or counter what you think is happening. When you need to know, find out: count, measure, record, analyze.

Metrics provide you ammunition as you build a case for action, for change. Bosses like metrics. Proposing change can rile things up. But as the consummate shared services leader Deb Vander Bogart once said, “Metrics can calm any storm.”

Process improvement changes, budget spending, new systems or process—all these stir emotions. But numbers tell the story of what is and what can be and can cut through emotional storms.

It’s important, however, to use metrics according to your need. Never measure for measuring’s sake. And the metrics you employ should change along with the focus of your explorations and what you’re particularly trying to manage at a point in time.

What do you need to know? What do you suspect but need to confirm? Focus on those things, not the thousand other things you could measure (or that your system probably is ready to hand you).

Suppose you read a study that makes claims of improvement in some particular area. It backs up those claims with numbers and logic. If it’s addressing an area of concern for you, start counting your own numbers in your operation. Then run them through the formula of the logical argument and see if the proposed change will work for you. Proving the argument, you have also prepared your proposal!

Takeaways: 1. You are not the only one who is not measuring, so don’t feel bad but don’t avoid thinking about metrics! 2. Measuring the right things can lead to understanding, and that can lead to better decisions. 3. You’re in the right end of the 80/20 split—seeking information and ideas. Now join the top 20 (or 15) percent of that top group and measure!

Depending on your situation, one place to start might be (vendor) customer service. On what percent of invoices do you get inquiries? How long does it take to respond? What’s the “interruption impact” of taking a call and responding? What is the total time and cost of responding to calls and emails? What is the nature of the inquiries? What percent are simple questions, such as “When will my invoice be paid?,” “Has my invoice been paid?,” “What is the check number or payment number?,” or “Has my invoice been received?”

The answers to these questions could lead you to new thinking about how you “do” customer service and start a search for a better way. To find out more about a better way to “do” customer service click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.

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