4 Ways to Measure and Monitor Progress

November 1, 2016 by Stacey Barr

We don’t just measure performance to know we’re making progress. We measure other things too, to monitor our processes, to modify our behaviours, and to celebrate achievements. So for a little side-step to the usual performance measurement stuff, let’s explore the world of progress monitoring.

Progress happens to our results and to our actions. It’s useful to know how well we’re reaching our goals and it’s useful to know how well we’re implementing our actions to reach those goals.

Progress also happens in the moment, as well as over time. It’s useful to know how we’re doing right now, and it’s useful to know what level we’re capable of holding over time.

These four characteristics give us four types of progress measures: performance measures, activity measures, quota measures, and status measures.

Performance Measures monitor the progress of capability.

PuMP is all about performance measures, which measure progress of results over time. That’s what defines performance: how a result we want is moving over time toward a target or desired level. They tell us our current capability compared to past capability and desired future capability. XmR charts are the best way to visually monitor these measures.

Examples of performance measures:

  • LTIFR by month
  • Budget Variance by month
  • Average Cycle Time by week

Activity Measures monitor the progress of habits.

Activity measures aren’t really a focus of PuMP, because they’re generally quite obvious and don’t require much thinking to choose and monitor. And they mean very little without the context of end results. But they’re good for monitoring consistency in our behaviours, like habits we want to develop that will help our performance measures improve. Like performance measures, we can use XmR charts to monitor activity measures.

Examples of activity measures:

  • Travel Requests Processed by week
  • Customer Proposals Submitted by month
  • Length of Track Maintained by month

Quota Measures monitor the progress of tasks.

Quota measures focus on the completion of a chunk of work that can be quantified. Usually this work is repeatable, and we would set a quota or quantity to aim for. The idea is to strengthen the discipline to get things done. Checklists or tally sheets, where we tick or mark each step toward completion, are the easiest way to visualise these progress measures.

Examples of quota measures:

  • Sales Calls Made (aiming for 10 per day)
  • Emails Processed (aiming for ‘inbox zero’)
  • Words Written (aiming for 1000 per day)

Status Measures monitor the progress of scores

Status measures tell us our cumulative progress toward some score or total we might want to reach. It might be spending exactly all of our annual budget, earning airline points for gold or platinum status, or growing our customer base. We want to see how far away we are from the status goal, so we can display these measures as cumulative line charts or progressive bar charts.

Examples of status measures:

  • Budget Spent
  • Year-to-date Profit
  • Number of Customers

Which type of progress measure matters most?

It’s not really a question of which progress measure to use, but rather how to use them so they support each other. Quota measures build the discipline to get tasks done. And this discipline builds habits that make activity easier to sustain at higher levels, and also makes tangible progress toward status goals. The right activity progress will help sustain better performance, which in turn will give more leverage to those status goals.

DISCUSSION:

What kinds of progress do you measure? Share some examples and link them to the Measuring Progress model.

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  1. Richard says:

    Thanks Stacey yet another great read from a kindred sPirit. I will be putting some of thIs model to use in my own work – particularly when measuring the performance of my own team.

    Another model i use (or adaption of at least) is the philips RoI evaluation frameWork. Using a chain of impact to measure progress and performance oF delivery programS, policy implementation or culture change.

    The question i pose is whether impact is still relevant (i will be posting a blog later so please check it out). When dealiNg with execs and program leads They all want to measure success but when they realise that success is measured through impact / outcomes, Which is measured over time, and time requires effort and resource. they quite quickly revert back to output only (or quota or activity in your model). How many sessions wEre run? How many people attended …etc etc

    Do you think impact is irrelavnt in reality?

    • Stacey Barr says:

      I think impact is what it’s ALL about! If we shy away from measuring impact, what we’re saying is that we don’t care about impact. We’re just happy to do, do, do, and to consume resources and make claims.

      I think if we’re not prepared to prove it, we’re not taking responsibility for our actions and decisions.

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