Measures and Metrics

Measures and metrics are performance indicator tools that can be quantitative or qualitative.  There is some overlap between measures and metrics.  Measures are distinguished by their concrete nature.  They usually measure only one thing (e.g., I have five widgets).  In contrast, metrics describe a quality and require a measurement baseline (e.g., I have five more widgets than I did yesterday).  Measures are useful for demonstrating workloads and activity, and metrics are useful for evaluating process effectiveness and measuring success against established objectives at a system (high) and indicator (low) level.

Why:

  • Measures and Metrics can be useful for setting program priorities, allocating resources and measuring performance;
  • Agencies require performance metrics to monitor progress against goals and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes;
  • Agencies use workload measures when allocating and managing resources;
  • Metrics and measures enhance program processes, boost credibility and can inform decisions about program budgets, priorities, staffing and program activities;
  • Identifying weaknesses.

How:

  • Keep things simple, consistent, easy to read, and tailored for the desired audience;  
  • Metrics fall into two basic areas: 1) Process Metrics (time, cost, quality), and 2) Workload Measures;
  • Process Metrics:  Use process metrics to evaluate business processes, establish process improvement goals, and measure progress against those goals. Consider applicable constraints and limitations when developing these reporting and analysis methods. Remember that process improvement is meaningless without an associated process metric (e.g., you change a process without realizing benefits). Process metrics help determine if an issue is caused by ineffective process change or lack of process adoption. Without process metrics in place, you have no visibility into the effectiveness of the changes to business processes. Use process metrics to evaluate the progress of agency components, discover areas of the agency that need more attention or resources, and recognize components that are effective or show impressive improvements over time.
  • Workload Measures:  Use these transactional measures to demonstrate workloads, capacity and resource utilization. This type of reporting may include the number of transactions performed, hours expended, requests for assistance, number of people trained, etc. Workload measures are most useful in demonstrating resource requirements, but are also useful when presented in combination with process or compliance metrics. For instance, you may want to evaluate the effectiveness of a training program for developers by correlating improvements in application testing results with the number of developers trained.

Click here for an example.

Subject Ambassadors:

Tony Conigliari - Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office: anthony.conigliari@noaa.gov

Glenn Campbell - Alaska Fisheries Science Center: glenn.campbell@noaa.gov