Strategic Foundation

In my previous white paper I outlined the essential steps required to establish a data based reporting system. It is necessary to systematically define the categories for measurement, and then develop a vision statement, objectives, measures, and strategy for each category. While establishing these foundational steps will dramatically increase the effectiveness of a metrics system, additional tools are needed in order to make the system functional. The system relies on charts and graphs to communicate issues. It relies on discipline from management and staff to effectively drive continuous improvement. The essentials of putting this visual reporting and management system in place are outlined in this white paper.

Metrics Reporting System

One of the outputs from the Four Panel work sessions is a list of measures. But each of the measures needs a reporting system, i.e. set of charts, that includes these four elements;

  1. Demonstrate performance changes over time and compare performance to targets (Trend Chart)
  2. Illustrate clearly the current issues and their relative severity (Pareto Chart)
  3. Show historical trends of issues and the relative severity of past issues (Paynter Matrix)
  4. Record actions that have been taken and report the effectiveness of those actions. (Action Log)

These requirements can be easily satisfied via a single, one page report. A simple Excel spreadsheet allows for tracking and charting the data with relative ease.To make charts more powerful and easier to use, make sure to clearly label the charts and the units used, and avoid complex formulas or transformation of the data; stick with the data in the form most likely to be understood by everyone.

Trend Charts

Sometimes known as run charts, trend charts are used to show changes in performance over time. Run charts are used to provide a visual indicator of Since there will always be some variation in results, displaying them over time makes it easier to see and understand how actions are changing the results, and how we are performing relative to the target.

Resist the temptation to set the time periods too short for the individual data points on the trend chart. Short time periods can make it difficult to see the real trends. Occasionally, it is acceptable to use time periods as short as one week, but generally monthly buckets are preferred.

When setting up trend charts, be sure to include and clearly label the targeted performance. Place an arrow labeled GOOD and indicate the direction the results are desired to move.