Probably the #1 issue I see when we visit an operation is around what is measured. Even in environments where they have a balanced scorecard, the custom in practice leans heavily in one direction.
There is almost always a strong bias to SLA’s or Service Level metrics. I hate the name of these metrics because it’s so misleading. They don’t tell you the level of service provided at all!
Service Level metrics are all really just ‘speed’ metrics. How fast we did something. They are usually expressed as:
X% of work completed in Y amount of time
But ask any customer in the whole what is MORE important to them, work completed quickly, or work completed correctly and I think you’ll find they want the work done correctly (ok – they want both, but quality is more important).
So why is this metric always the one that gets the most focus? I think maybe it’s because:
- It’s extremely tangible and easy to understand
- It’s quantitative
- You count how many were done
- It’s exact
Quality on the other hand is:
- Hard to measure
- Sampled instead of counted
- Is subjective and qualitative
- Complex criteria that often changes
If I told you we completed 95% of customer applications within 7 days, that is meaningful to you straight away. You don’t really need any more information.
If I told you that we were running at 72% quality for those applications, that is almost meaningless without a whole lot of other context.
But if you want to improve your level of service, quality metrics is how it’s done.