Do Your Business Process Metrics Measure Up?

  1. Are we doing things right?
  2. Are we doing the right things?

Peter Fingar, co-author of Business Process Management: The Third Wave, then asks these measurement corollaries in his 2013 article “How Do Your BPM Metrics Measure Up?”

  1. Are we measuring things right?
  2. Are we measuring the right things?

But what are these right measurements? John Dixon, Gartner analyst, articulates seven best practices:

  1. Focus on Outcomes – Measure the results, not the completion of steps or milestones to get there.
  2. Limit the Number of Measures – Not fifteen, but just a few.
  3. Set Clear, Specific Goals – The leaders must have clear goals and they need to articulate them.
  4. Link Metrics to Strategy – The metrics need to show how work impacts the company’s strategy.
  5. Measure Current Performance – Know how you are doing today, so you can see if anything changes in the future.
  6. Look Ahead, Not Just Back – Metrics are not just to see what happened historically. Metrics should cause action today.
  7. Make Metrics Visible and Accessible – Having workers, managers, supervisors, and executives see metrics helps employees make decisions and take action. If only executives see them on a monthly dashboard, it is too infrequent, too late, and too inaccessible.

And the next question is – How do you really do all this? Below are examples of TIPS from my 20 years of practice to select measurements that are meaningful and have an impact on results:

  1. Focus on Outcomes – Select measures that track the outcomes of the process from a product standpoint and customer standpoint. These should be results that provide value to the customer.
  2. Limit the Number of Measures – I say limit it to two or three. Start with that number and use them.
  3. Set Clear, Specific Goals – Starting a BPM Project successfully means creating a Project Charter with the Process Owner, Executive Sponsor, Project Lead and Team Facilitator. And in that charter are specific Improvement Targets; for each Improvement Target there needs to be one metric.
  4. Link Metrics to Strategy – It’s not only the metrics that should link to the strategy. The Improvement Targets need to be aligned with the strategy. So you need to discuss that with the Process Owner and Executive Sponsor.
  5. Measure Current Performance – This starts with gathering baseline data for the metrics designated for each Improvement Target.
  6. Look Ahead, Not Just Back – All metrics must drive decisions and action. If you measure something and don’t do anything with the measure, it’s no good. So think carefully about what action you will take with any metric, and discard it if no action is identified.
  7. Make Metrics Visible and Accessible – Metrics should be visible on the shop floor, or on the wall, or if on the desktop with mechanisms to have alerts about changes or concerns. A file on the desktop is not visible enough unless it is naturally accessed frequently.

About the Author

Shelley SweetShelley Sweet, the Founder and President of I4 Process, and author of The BPI Blueprint, is a highly respected BPM Practitioner. She provides consultation, workshops and training programs for clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations. Her programs are based on a unique 3-PEAT method of modeling processes and analyzing data that accelerates operational improvements, and builds leaders and employees who sustain operational excellence. Want to learn more about BPM metrics? Email Shelley at: [email protected]

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