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Setting Up and Tracking Metrics That Matter

Posted on September 20, 2011 by Ashley

Most people would think that managing an area with such a well defined process of responisbilites, like a returns department, would have a simplistic process for managing employee productivity. Of course there is the occasional “think outside of the box” issue, but most of it is simply following a procedure to reach a specific end goal. It is valuable to us then to have a set of metrics that can visually show us if what we are doing is functioning effectively or not. A good set of metrics can help employees of any department work to achieve an overall goal. So how then do we make sure that the metrics we have in place work for the people responsible for them?

According to Dev Patnaik the founder and chief executive of Jump Associates, process metrics actually tend to be the last part of the whole solution. It doesn’t make much sense for us to measure the effectiveness of metrics if we don’t first evaluate the employee. We also need to know what kind of person we are looking for as well as if we have enough cause to actually need to measure the process. Of course when you have a cluster of customers returning items for whatever the reason, you always have cause to make sure the returns process is seen through to the end. This way the customer has a pleasant experience even in the case of them having to return something. It is incredibly important that the person handling the process then is able to effectively and promptly handle the issue and a metric system helps them to know what is expected in each case.

In order to motivate the person responsible for handling the loads of returns, they need to know what that involves and why it is important. Returns process involves inspections, updates, reviews, reorders, refunds and so much more. Thus, we need an innovative way to make sure our metrics can capture all of these steps. For us, we use the term “buckets” or simply the area of responsibility. Each bucket is allotted a specific number of issues that are allowed to stay open at the end of each day. It’s important to communicate that the metrics aren't in place to just micromanage people but to be a positive tool that has helped our department be successful and helped us to see where there really are area's that need attending to.

The area that seems most daunting, at least to me, is knowing how to deal with the metrics not being met. As it is a learning process, the key for me is to encourage the employee instead of focusing on the discouraging fact that the metric might goal has not been realized. This allows me as a Team Leader to overview the metrics and easily locate where the problem may be coming from. Now I can encourage the person on what areas can be approved and provide them with useful tools to do so.

Having a detailed set of metrics in place has helped me and my department immensely. Although it may not be for everyone, it has enabled us to be more successful. What are some metrics you could use to make your department more successful today?

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