The term “process measurables” is incredibly narrow and also incredibly broad. In the scope of overall business management, it can seem like a pretty narrow and technical concept. However, for process managers, it’s a concept that can describe hundreds of different things in one project alone.
Overview: What are process measurables?
A measurable is any aspect of a process that can be measured. Physical objects have measurables in the form of length, width, height, weight and color. Since business processes are less tangible than physical objects, their measurables are usually more abstract.
Total amount of resources committed to each stage or for each total unit is a basic example. You could also consider the length of time for task completion, percentage of failures in final results or durability of manufactured materials according to set standards.
3 benefits of process measurables
Identifying and using measurables is essential for any kind of meaningful data analysis and continuous improvement method.
1. Finding potential benchmarks
Benchmarks are specific measurements or metrics that provide a reliable indication of the overall health or viability of a process. Developing a full list of measurables is the only way to get started on finding meaningful benchmarks.
2. More fodder for data analysis
Before computers, statistics was all about finding the right way to use a small amount of data. Now businesses have access to the many ways to use data, so the challenge is finding more fodder for it. Looking for measurables is a sure way to find more sources for data.
3. Step towards consistency
Finding measurables is all about consistency. They are the common ground or common language that allows you to compare tasks, actions and systems that are too different to compare side-by-side.
Why are process measurables important to understand?
Minding your measurables requires detailed understanding of specific processes as well as appreciation of broader organizational objectives.
Define inputs and outcomes
Every component, ingredient and facet in a process should be clearly defined as much as possible. It shouldn’t just take “a little while” when it could take 1 minute 30 seconds. Definitions should be driven by action words and concepts.
Sifting the options
Not all measurables in a particular process are important. In fact, there are usually many quantifiable elements and inputs that need to be sifted through to get to the gems. Don’t be afraid to collect a lot of data, but don’t hesitate to disregard the irrelevant bits either.
Keep the context
Information without context loses its value immediately. Maintain context for all measurables as much as possible to make sure it’s useful, accurate and relevant during analysis.
An industry example of process measurables
A car detailing and body shop wants to develop more consistency in the use of time, materials and equipment on each project. In order to control these costs, they need to first define and measure them. This means examining each process in action to identify all key measurables that should be included.
For example, observation of repair and painting work reveals several types of measurables. Material costs, like paint, cleaning chemicals and oil, are easy to quantify since prices are usually attached to each unit. Time taken to perform certain tasks, like unscrewing certain bolts or performing the steps of an oil change, is another basic process measurable that is a little harder to track.
3 best practices when thinking about process measurables
The most important best practice is to think about measurables in the context of long-term strategies and solutions.
1. Don’t overload
Overloading by demanding excessive detail and accuracy or by broadening the scope of your research can be disastrous. You don’t need to rush when using a continual or cyclical improvement strategy. There will be many opportunities to refine and improve your process.
2. Measure twice, cut once
Even though overloading is something to avoid, you should still proceed carefully before making drastic changes. Always double-check your data and follow through for additional information when anything is unclear.
3. Create a data system
Don’t expect this to be the last time you need to gather or examine data. Finding your measurables is just the beginning of analytics. Every company that wants to harness data needs to create an intentional system to accomplish that goal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about process measurables
How do you measure a process?
In general, processes are evaluated based on time, investment and quality. Many companies prioritize one of these characteristics over the others to gain an edge in a competitive marketplace.
What are process performance metrics?
Performance metrics are established and accepted measurables within a specific industry or process. For example, employee turn-over rate is a common metric used in human resources departments when gauging hiring methods.
What are some key process metrics?
There are hundreds of possible process metrics, but a few common ones include turnaround time, cost efficiency, throughput and cycle time.
Measure of a process
Define and then measure is the start of every Six Sigma improvement cycle. These two steps revolve almost exclusively around identifying, establishing and mastering measurables. This concept is one you need to know make the most of modern data techniques as well as lean management strategies.