When performing CI projects one of the items that leadership wants to know is “How much revenue will you generate or savings will we get out of this project?” It is a fair question but it never really gets to the real question. “Is this going to work for the process and will it keep working?” This is a different question with different metrics.

$’s per transaction or $’s per venue are very good metrics for determining if one is winning or not. These are very important metrics for both business as well as the wider stakeholder audience. Very easy to see and communicate. The only issue is that these are output metrics and to say that all of this is in a business’s control is, from my perspective, hard to believe. I would rather measure input metrics that can be seen daily if not hourly by the process owners and develop triggers and countermeasures to deal with the eventual / inevitable. It also never has dollars in the numerator or denominator.

Input metrics benefit the company in three ways. One is that input metrics, if chosen and developed correctly, should track critical behaviors. These are the very actions that create or destroy value in a process. Another aspect is that if they are visual and set up so they are easy to see before it affects the output metric. This is very important not only due to reaction time but because there are many elements that can affect the output, these are insulated and can show that the process is in control and the issue is outside of the process and resources can be directly elsewhere. The third piece of an input metric is that there are triggers or thresholds that, once reached, corrective action and countermeasures can be taken. On output metrics, this is very hard to find the cause and effect so draconian measures are normally used to get the process back “in control.”

I am not a great supporter in looking for savings or profits in specific line items in P&L statements but I am not a fan of the click our heals and think good thoughts. I think the metrics that need to be focused are the critical inputs that are directly correlated to the output one is seeking. That is not enough, though, because triggers and countermeasures have to be put in place as well. Using this type of tracking of project success ensures that the process owners see what is working, understand what is out of scope and have action plans when the process has outliers.