If you are like the vast majority of FM’s you are now much more familiar with Metrics and Continuous Improvement programs than you once were. Hopefully you have metrics that measure the important parts of your business accurately, and a system for routinely analyzing and reporting data. Good data collection and analysis practices are at the very heart of meaningful metrics outputs. Measure the wrong things or measure incorrectly and you are at risk of making wrong decisions. Measure correctly and you have a gold mine of opportunity.
Ah, but that is the rub, isn’t it? We have all of this information now, but what are we supposed to do with it? Simply making charts to flash on the screen doesn’t seem like much value for the investment made in developing the data. It’s not. The real value of metrics programs is in the change they lead to. Change, as in “Continuous Improvement.”
Organizations that link their Metrics and Continuous Improvement efforts take advantage of the knowledge gained through data to direct efforts to improve operations. This is a key linkage that increases the return on investment from the metrics program, helps fine tune data processes, and increases the speed of Continuous Improvement.
Continuous Improvement programs that are targeted based on accurate data yield far more beneficial results than those that are not. This is because data driven Continuous Improvement projects apply leverage to those processes in an organization that really matter and have the greatest potential to improve performance.
As an example, let’s take a look at a classic FM service issue through the lens of a data-targeted Continuous Improvement process and one that is not.
The Issue: Customer Satisfaction ratings on hot/cold work orders appears to be declining over time.
Untargeted Approach: Analyze hot/cold work orders for Mean Time to Repair, Mean Time Between Failures, Mean Down Time, etc. to determine which sub-processes appear to be out of control. Investigate and revise those processes.
Data-Targeted Approach: Analyze Customer Satisfaction rating data at a fine level to determine which element(s) of the process is driving the rating decline. Develop a Continuous Improvement project to address those elements.
The difference between the two approaches is that the untargeted approach assumes the entire process is part of the problem, while the targeted approach looks at data to identify the key elements(s) of the problem, thereby concentrating improvement efforts where they matter most.
Interestingly, the untargeted approach may indeed improve the overall process yet not improve the Customer Satisfaction rating. For example, a targeted approach may identify that customer dissatisfaction is based in lack of communication and ambiguity regarding the work order status or close out.
Metrics programs are about discovering data, seeking knowledge from the data, and then turning the knowledge into actionable wisdom. Continuous Improvement programs are about applying systematic problem analysis methodologies to important issues in order to effect positive change in the Quality, Time, Cost and Customer Satisfaction dimensions.
Using data to target Continuous Improvement efforts increases the metrics program ROI and accelerates the pace of operational improvement. That seems like a positive outcome for both, and for you.