Measuring What You Manage

I think we’ve all seen the phrase “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”. This phrase really came home to me recently when speaking to customers planning on adopting communications-based business process automation (CBPA).

In some organizations, employees and managers spend a considerable amount of time tracking work that has been done or still needs to be done—entering it into spreadsheets, generating manual reports to show progress, and handholding in order to verify progress.  I’ve had a few customers describe it as taking more than half a manager’s work week where a high volume of items have to be processed.  We ’re not suggesting that work isn’t being managed today. It is —but at what effort, and what could the teams achieve if managers as well as knowledge workers didn’t have to work so hard to show what they’ve already accomplished?

What has attracted these customers to business process automation is the ability improve the handling of routine, people-centric processes and the communications events that occur as part of the process—pushing work to individual users and tracking against a desired service level goal. Presence can ensure that work gets routed to those skilled employees available and ready to take it, expediting the completion of the process. The system can send  notifications in case the team is falling behind on particular items. To assist management and knowledge workers, real time statistics will assist them to see who is engaged with which work item, and how many they’ve already handled.  Historical reports will also help management and employees  better track their progress. Common exception types may also be tracked, such as how many have been handled and the way in which they’ve been handled. For the customers I mentioned above, that ability to report on activity as a natural by-product of performing the work provides significant value and in the words of one, "will allows managers to get back to their day jobs". 

It seems that the time has come for this type of technology – the melding of communications with business process automation. This week I spoke at a VoiceCon conference in San Francisco where the combination of Unified Communications and Business Process Automation has become one of the hottest new topics. There’s an excitement in the air, and not just one generated by the vendors, if I may be excused for picking on my own industry.

Getting back to “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”, I’d like to reference an earlier blog discussion regarding management measuring work done by knowledge workers—measurement that has been traditional in the contact center, but not common outside it. I hit a nerve with that article, as some of the readers felt such measurement was intrusive.

What are your thoughts on the necessity of measuring work outside the contact center, and the ways to make measurement of work easier?


Rachel Wentink