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Submitted by wendii on


Ok Everyone I need some help!

I'm trying to create a plan for my work in the next 3 months. I've worked out what needs doing, and I've got the high level plan together. When I showed it to someone I trust they said I need to put in the measures... which I understand. But I don't know how to measure!

For example I have:

3. Review services for XXX in order to:
a. Establish whether additional services can be delivered in order to improve perception of service,
b. Review in accordance with requirement for 2008

And this one:
12. Improve ease of use of XX system by:
a. Providing guides on using XX to enter vacancies.

The only measure I can think of is done/not done and improvement in perception. Am I missing something obvious here?


ccleveland's picture


How do you know that you’ve been successful at your goals? In other words, what measure would you use to say “I achieved this goal” with certainty? If your goal isn’t a “measurable” goal, you won’t be able to easily tell when you’ve crossed the line of success.

In your first example, measuring improvement in perception is fine. That’s your goal. To clarify, you could change the wording so that it’s more obvious that your goal is to improve customer peceptions.

In the second example, why do you need to increase ease of use? Did you get customer feedback? The answer to that question can help you identify what to measure for success. Done/not done measurement is fine if it’s very obvious and objective, such as a goal to climb a mountain. In that case, you did it or you didn’t. However, your example is not so concrete and requires another measurement such as “zero complaints.”

One other area, time should also be part of measuring success. When are these goals to be achieved?


WillDuke's picture
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I often find it helpful to measure what isn't working. Give a rating to customer satisfaction. Have them fill out a survey and score it. Then, give them the survey later with improved scores. Your goal is to get the score from x to y.

Ease of use - you could go the survey route again. Alternatively, what makes it hard to use? Does it take 3 days of training? Get it down to 1. Does it take 30 minutes to accomplish a task? Get it down to 10.

Basically, measure where you're at right now. The rest should become clear.

James Gutherson's picture

I think we all owe Wendii a lot for the work she has done on these forums so I'm sure this will be one of the largest and most popular threads running.

My Responce:

In the first part of your example the goals apear to be to improve the perception of services in XXX, and the ease of use in XX. You then propose solutions - researching whether additional sevices will increase the perception of services, and providing guides.

As your collegue said, what is missing are measures and that makes me wonder how far you are into this process.

They way this should run is:
- Determine areas to address - through feedback, audit, Corrective Action etc.
- Detemine the causes of the current problem.
- Detemine a baseline for the current situation.
- Detemine the desired level of improvement.
- Develop proposed solutions that address the causes.
- Remeasure the current situation.

You have proposed solutions in both cases (additional services, and guidance documents) so have you already detemined the causes? If so this process would give some indication of how to measure improvements (as CC said). This could be a % reduction in complaints, reduction in processing time, a satisfaction rating etc. Otherwise I would suggest taking things back a step and going through the determination of causes phase to make sure you are focusing on the areas that matter. From this point you will be prepared to develop measurable goals as you will have a base line to go from.

jhack's picture


I count four things you're trying to measure.

1. "establish whether additional services can be delivered" This is done/not done. It's a research report. You might also measure whether the recommendations are endorsed by senior management.

2. "Improve perception of services". From your post, it seems that your plan is to improve perception by establishing additional services. Maybe that's the way to improve perception. Maybe simply improving current services would work. Customer surveys (conducted by those not delivering the service!) can be very powerful here. Make sure that they are worded simply and clearly. Some examples:
- "I would recommend XXX service to a colleague."
- "If I had to do it all over again, I would again choose XXX."

These are simple to answer, and provide a clear measure of perception. It might be best to avoid gradations ("on a scale of 1 to 10...") to improve both response rate and normalize the answers.

3. "Improve ease of use" is a key area. Ease of use can be measured several ways. You could measure the number of clicks/keystrokes needed to acheive a goal. You could measure rates of abandonment (if web-based) to see if people are giving up or seeing it through to the end. You could do customer surveys. Measure before and after, to ensure your changes are in fact improvements.

4. "Providing guides" is a either done or not done. But it's unclear whether providing guides will improve ease of use. System documentation is often unread.


karaikudy's picture
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We owe this to you for all the inputs you had given.

We measure goals achieved in terms of Quality, Safety, on Time, On Budget, Productivity, Delivery, Inventory and customer satisfaction. We also use to convert all factors to a numerical scale or value and fix a threshold to be acheived.

In your case as for GOAL 3, you can use customer perception survey based on the factors mentioned above and look for improvements. Of course, perceptions vary from people to people and we look at less than 80% satisfaction as a starting point for areas of improvement.

Further as you do the PDCA Cycle(Plan, Do, Check, Act) as the check aspect, you would know the situation and identify new aspects of services that may be needed.

As for goal 12, you may break the steps involved in ease of use in terms of time, understanding, performance improvement, people involved etc in terms of measurable terms.

I think more than being looking at the ultimate goal of done/not done, if you are able to link and quantify the steps involved in achieving this goal you would be able to get a better/ broader picture.

Hope this helps.

Mark's picture
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Nice to be appreciated, eh? :D You deserve it. Mike and I just signed the contract for the Sheraton Amsterdam Schiphol Jan 29 and 30. Look forward to meeting you there.

I am clearly not as smart as the helpful members above. Can you ethically share more about what you're trying to do? What do the systems do, and what are XXX and XX?

if you can't, here's a slapdash effort:

3. Gain approval for XXX service review document, which includes recommendation for specific additional services that support 2008 blank date.

12. Develop guides for XX on vacancy entering which (reduce complaints by #%) (improve customer satisfaction scores on technology support by #%) (reduces error reports on vacancies by #%)

If you want to PM me, that's fine.


wendii's picture
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Hi All,

what a lovely thing to wake up to! Thank you.

I shall write something longer when I've had time to digest.


tlhausmann's picture
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Great responses to your post from cc, willduke, Jim, jhack, and karaikudy.

When I see the phrase "Review Services" it means some services are candidates for elimination. Is it appropriate for my department to be providing that service? Do more effective processes exist?

As for the subsequent question "Improve Ease of Use". This item portends you're thinking of a software system. I may be wrong but my experience suggests most ease of use issues are addressed through training and process modifications. Entrenched systems merit process reviews.

In both cases, personal visits by me with the affected departments/divisions help me determine whether the unmet expectations are reasonable. Having recently overhauled administrative systems for two different operations in the past four years I can say that most unmet expectations and ease of use matters are addressed through end-user training.

Can you tell I work in IT?

wendii's picture
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Again thank you all for your help. I really appreciate it, and version two is looking a lot better!

To answer some specific things...


Perception is one of our contractual measures. We ask our customer once a month what they think of our service. However, we ask HR who are in charge of the contract and not the hiring managers who are using the service!

The computer system I need to increase ease of use on is for entry of vacancies and then hiring information. I can't get it changed, and customers regularly tell us how difficult it is to use. So my thought is that I need to find ways of making it easier to use, without changing the system. That's why I'm concentrating on guides and other help, rather than going to the root cause. Feedback from our customers is the obvious measure there.. so thanks for that!

I have 3 months in my new job to make an impact before some other changes come along. The more I can get out of these 3 months, the better positioned I'll be at the changes, so that's my deadline!


Time taken flipped a switch in my head - thanks for that! I've incorporated it into version 2.


You're right.. having been on the frontline for 15 months I know what I want to fix.. but I havn't done the baselining.. and maybe that's why I'm finding it difficult. We don't have a lot of MI, but what we have I can use. Thank you.


Recommendations endorsed by senior management - I hadn't thought of sign off by the customer for the improvements they need to pay for ... that helped thank you!

Unfortunately, as I said, I can't change the system. I understand your point about the documentation, but can't see another way around it?


I'd forgotten about PDCA.. that'll help in checking how the improvements are having an impact after the initial feedback.. thanks for that!


Vacation time booked and credit card reserved. If you could tell me what time to be there I'll book the flights too!

XXX is a business area, and XX is our computer system for entering vacancies and offer details.

We don't have MI to be as specific as you've suggested but that doesn't mean I can't start counting now!


Reviewing services is all about looking at what we are contractually obliged to deliver, what the customer wants and how those interact - or not! So you're right, some of things that we do now for love will be eliminated and it's about the team having clarity about what those are, and feeling confident enough to say no to the customer. Not sure how I measure that either!

Ease of use is definately about user training - unfortunately many of my users are £100K+ execs so I need to find some easy ways for them to be able to access help when they need it. However, your validation of my thoughts is comforting - thank you!

This job is really different to my old one.. in that I used to do very reactionary short term work and this strategic goal setting which takes hours of document preparation is really hard! So I'm really grateful for your help and warm thoughts. Thank you.


PS I'll probably be back with more questions!


jhack's picture

Consider simple, friendly "documentation": A single sheet of heavy stock, maybe the size of a large postcard, laminated. It has just the key info the person would need to help them through the less intuitive parts of the system, and could be kept handy. In my experience, this is the kind of documentation most likely to be used by a non-technical person.


wendii's picture
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That's exactly what I was thinking - thanks for the validation!