Rule #3

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#3 – Only measure the important things

I consider this to be both a good professional and personal rule – but only because I’m a little bit obsessed with measuring things:

  • I once spent a few months recording the colours/flavours of Fox’s Glacier Fruits and even logged them on a website (!)
  • I’m a bit of a “stepgeek” and love my Fitbit (and was quite upset when I lost my first one last February)
  • Worst of all – I seriously (if thankfully briefly) considered keeping a record of the volume, consistency and colour of the contents of my then newborn daughter’s nappies. I’ve no idea why – odds are I was sleep deprived.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have made a good scientist (social or otherwise), but instead I work in IT, so where’s the IT angle?

Measurement is a big part of service management and a critical element in service improvement and if there was one thing that sank in during the last bout of ITIL training I subjected myself to, it was the importance of limiting what you measure:

  1. Things you can influence and will act upon – if you can’t or don’t plan to do anything about it, why measure it? For example, I stopped paying attention to my Fitbit stats over Christmas as I knew I would care less about walking and more about mince pies.
  2. Things where the cost of measuring makes sense – why spend £1,000,000 measuring something where the most you could save by influencing that measure is £1,000?
  3. Things you actually care about – numbers of incidents, sweet flavours (acknowledging that this fails part 1 above) etc…

My random personal dalliances with numbers aside, I’ve learnt some of this the hard way. Our current strategy lists several targets (such as the proportion of “standard” vs. “non-standard workstations” and the average age of those workstations) where we have no practical (or certainly affordable) way of measuring them or then doing anything about them. They’ll go when the strategy next gets updated, but for the moment they sit there on our monthly reports, embarrassing me…

nomeasure

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2 thoughts on “Rule #3

  1. Cal Racey says:

    Those embarrassing target section struck a chord with me. We have put alot of effort into addressing those reporting problems at Newcastle. We have been trialing Microsoft’s SCCM 2012 as a reporting tool for our campus desktops estate make up and power consumption. We have got netskills (www.netskills.ac.uk) involved in producing how to materials and guides The power monitoring and reporting in SCCM 2012 is pretty decent. SCCM 2012 would likely allow you to measure the two unmeasurables and bolster your workstation energy reporting. We are taking an open approach to this and would be happy to info share, the guides are certainly reusable.

    • Gareth says:

      Thanks for the tip. We’re mid-way through an SCCM2012 implementation that I’d worried that the fairly poor monitoring we do have wouldn’t be replaced by anything at all – sounds like there’s the potential for it to actually be much better.

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