BPM metrics: 7 best practices

Editor's Note: In "To reap BPM benefits, measure its results," ebizQ contributor Crystal Bedell offers expert advice for quantifying the results of current and past projects. Here, ebizQ Site Editor Anne Stuart offers additional guidelines for doing the job well.

Gartner analyst John Dixon has a simple formula for why it's important to gauge the success of BPM efforts: "No measures = No results = No justification." And ultimately: "No sustained improvement."

In other words, if you can't quantify the results of your BPM projects, you're unlikely to reap long-term benefits from them—or gain support for future initiatives.

At a recent international Gartner BPM Summit, Dixon offered the following best practices for applying metrics to just about any BPM undertaking:

1. Focus on outcomes. Measure results delivered, not steps taken. Identify the most-valuable contributions. Make sure that all stakeholders concur on the definition of a good outcome.

2. Limit the number of measures. "Focus. Don't scatter your efforts," Dixon says. "Concentrate on the measures with the greatest impact." What's the right number? He recommends using just two or three.

3. Set clear, specific goals. For instance, rather than saying "improved customer service," set a specific goal and a timeline for meeting it. Make sure everyone understands these objectives.

4. Measure current performance. It's hard to prove how far you've come without knowing where you started. Establish an accurate, relevant baseline.

5. Link metrics to strategy. Show how BPM efforts align with business strategies and help meet high-level organizational goals.

6. Look ahead, not just back. "Metrics that predict results that you can leverage by timely action are better than recording history," Dixon says. Specifically, watch for economic, competitive or market behavior that might prompt a quick course change.

7. Make metrics visible and accessible. Metrics can motivate people—but only when they can see or find them. Expect some initial reluctance to change, Dixon warns, but keep in mind that being able to demonstrate positive results goes a long way toward gaining acceptance.

About the Author

Anne Stuart, ebizQ's editor from mid-2010 to mid-2013, is now senior editor for SearchCloudApplications.com at ebizQ's parent company, TechTarget. She is a veteran journalist who has written for national magazines, daily newspapers, an international news service and many Web sites. She’s specialized in covering business and technology issues for 20 years. Based in Newton, Mass., she can be reached at astuart@techtarget.com. Follow Anne on Google+ and at annestuart_TT on Twitter. For general questions about ebizQ, please e-mail editor@ebizQ.net.

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