Dean Takahashi wrote a great piece in VentureBeat about the Quantified Self, one of the big trends of 2012. Capturing metrics is hardly a new concept but the exciting development for metrics lovers (that would be me included) is that technology is making it even easier to capture and interpret even more relevant stuff. At this point I may have lost half my readership but it really is quite stunning how few businesses I meet that are really trapping great metrics AND actioning tactics to improve those metrics.

Metrics measurement with no accountable action is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic – pointless.

Key Metrics Measurement Tips

  1. Ask yourself, what question is the metric I’m measuring answering and who is going to take action if the metric falls below an acceptable level?
  2. Is there an editor and an author of the metric. Different roles. Both essential.
  3. Sales – sales professionals need to really understand their “cookbook” of a successful month. This traps the behavior that leads to success. The behavior can vary from sector to sector but usually includes the sales person defining a minimum number of key metrics that lead to success. We all need benchmarks to know we are tracking great behavior. How we feel is almost irrelevant. You could feel tired but be confusing activity with effectiveness. What are the 12 key ratios that if your sales professionals nail will lead to high financial success. Define them, measure them relentlessly and let your sales professionals manage their business.
  4. Marketing – the plethora of ratios that can be measured today is stunning. However I’m finding that often that’s as far as it goes. Better to reduce the number of metrics but ensure someone in sales, marketing or operations is actually taking action to improve the result. Make your metrics personal. Allocate each member of your marketing team the task of following through on each ratio. For example the leads from a geographic region are down or the leads from the construction sector is down, what happens next. Someone needs to take control of changing tactics to get leads moving in the right direction.
  5. Finance, IT, HR, Production, Development all lend themselves to relentless measurement that either confirm your policies and tactics are working or failing. Agree in advance the protocols for action whether good or bad news. I’m always amazed as metrics are measured and published that the significance and follow through is missing. You see it all the time in written narratives summarizing the results. Tell me the significance of your ratios and what action you are going to take. Take control. Don’t wait to be lead.
  6. Be careful not to measure the wrong stuff. As Seth Godin pointed out recently some metrics are meaningless. He cites the car dealership that bullies you into giving an excellent. “Only a 5 will do. You understand don’t you”, the car salesman will plead.
  7. On a personal note I exercise on a regular basis and I compete at Masters Track medaling at the indoor national championships at 400m and 800m every year. I don’t get too complicated with metrics. I allocate an exact time of day 7 days a week. Exercise for 30 min. Measure the intensity of the exercise. (Try the Garmin Forerunner 410 for excellent graphs of pace and distance) Measure weight and resting pulse every morning. Increase intensity every 3 weeks assuming my weight and pulse are going in the correct direction. Take one week off every 3 months and enjoy it. That’s it.
  8. As new technology comes along whether its a new app measuring your sleep patterns or new insights into your customers through massive analysis of data crunching, remember Analysis for Action is the key or why bother!
You might also find this related post useful on dashboards.