måndag 10 juni 2013

To drive or analyze a process with measurements

There is a lot that can be measured when it comes to processes. The terms KPI and metric is frequently used when talking about measurements. I like to look at measurement from two different angles. I call them Drive or Analyze. There is probably more accurate industry terms for them but i call them that to keep it simple. They are what they are called. I like simple. If you have read what i have written earlier you have seen that it is an important part in my interpretations.

The meaning of Drive. Well, what do you do when you are driving a car? You are constantly adjusting the steering wheel to keep the car within the lane. Sometimes you change lanes but always according to route. There are some short time goals which forces you to adjust while driving a car. If there is a car in front of you, you will avoid driving into it. There are speed limits that indicate the maximum allowed speed etc. Simply put. Tons of adjustments that you do to reach you final goal, arrive at the expected destination. The key here is usually that a measurement indicates if an action needs to be performed or  to be changed. This is a very short perspective and the information must be real-time. Basically it should be defined in the way that it tells you specifically what to do. Steer right or you will end up in the ditch. break or you hit that car. turn on headlights to make the surrounding aware. Put gas in the car or it will stop. No one of these are in any way described in the context of the final goal. But if you follow them you will significantly increase your probability to reach it. No one of these measurements are done to improve the process design either. They are instruments to execute the process correctly. To drive the process. They should be essential and ALWAYS AVAILABLE for any process operator driving the process. Would you step into a car knowing that the driver has a driver license but is currently become blind?

The meaning of Analyze. This is all retrospective. This can be from outcome (effectiveness), compliance, efficiency or improvement etc perspectives. A process is a living thing and it needs to be analyzed on a regular basis. It is here you will find your process weaknesses and as soon as you find an antidote for it you will find a new one to focus on. Usually it is not good to have too many at any current time. If you give a patient 5 different medicines at once, how do you know which one worked the best. Pick the one or ones that will give you the biggest positive impact and make them visible for everyone. How to make them visible? Create a driving measurement that prevents the unwanted handling with a defined counter action. 

But wait a minute here. Am I saying that analytics are to identify weaknesses and driving measurements are to mitigate/prevent them from happening? Sure! It is often during analysis the driving measurements are born. The driving measurements are the countermeasures for weaknesses found during analysis. If you create a driving measurement and it is used by the process operators things will happen in the process. Other parts of the process will be affected and new analysis is needed. This is a never ending story. If you do not plan to perform this continuously your process will slowly deteriorate and that is something karma would not like.

As an afterword i would like to add that when talking about effectiveness aka outcome it is the guiding star of them all. It has to be nailed and maintained like a new born baby. The purpose of it is to quantify the consumers ability to achieve their goals and to illustrate how IT has contributed to it. Nothing more and nothing less. 

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