How Often Should You Track Your Measures?

December 1, 2008 by Stacey Barr

Are you still measuring performance results annually?

And do you wonder why people aren’t really getting much value from measuring performance?

Because performance measures are feedback, you need to track them often enough for the feedback to be of any use in guiding your decisions and actions to improve performance.

So here’s a checklist to help you decide whether you should measure a result on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis:

__ How SENSITIVE is the performance result to change? If you were to go make an improvement now, how long would it take before you saw the effect? For example, if it takes years to see change happen, like a staff safety culture or community attitudes to water use, you can probably get away with measuring six monthly or annually.

__ How URGENTLY do you want to know if the performance result has shifted? Is this a result that needs to be improved in the next six to 12 months? If so, it probably needs to be measured at least monthly!

__ How COSTLY would it be to measure the performance result more frequently? Is this worth the benefit of having more frequent feedback?
Could you improve performance so much that the cost of measuring more frequently is far outweighed by savings or added value?

__ How ACCURATELY do you need to measure the performance result? By taking smaller samples more frequently, you can reduce the cost of measuring often. But with smaller samples comes less reliability, so take care. If you just need a good indicator of the trend or change over time, smaller samples can work a treat.

YOUR CHALLENGE:
Think about the kind of response or action you designed your measure to inform. Are you measuring it frequently enough to inform you before you act, or only frequently enough to tell you after you act?

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