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Document Center of Excellence Best Practice #6 – Measure and Improve

BY Ed Worsfold

This is the final part in a in a series of articles examining best practices companies can use to build a Document Center of Excellence (DCOE). Please refer to this link for the first installment in the series. We hope that the information has been a valuable tool as you assess your document and communications strategies for 2015. This time around we focus on the importance of using proper process measures to map your path forward.

Measure Up 

Peter Drucker, the respected management consultant, once said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” A DCOE ensures just that. Process stakeholders and technical resources must be accountable for measuring and tracking results and reporting back to the governing DCOE. Key indicators may include time to market, customer satisfaction, cost of resources, and more. This accountability paired with the a mindset aimed to “measure and improve” is important since it enables the DCOE to make decisions based on facts, and to design and select strategies grounded in real world measurement data that will lead to activities that save money, strengthen customer communications, and ensure a meaningful return on investment.

Types of Measures

Here are three basic types of measures can be used to gauge the effectiveness of your document process taken from the popular book “Designing a Document Strategy,” by Kevin Craine.

Input measures detail the accuracy and quality of the input to your document process.  Consider the saying garbage in, garbage out.  If the original data or information that must be contained in your document is flawed, the results of your process are certain to be flawed.  Input measures might include things like proofing errors, inaccurate request forms, bad data files or late batch runs.

In-process measures demonstrate how well the process is performing at certain key points within the process.  A document flow chart will help you devise measures that indicate how the various steps and functions contribute towards satisfying your expectations and the needs and objectives of your organization.  In-process measures are primarily efficiency-oriented and designed to monitor operational performance.  These indicators may include items such as yields, cycle times and productivity per person.

Result measures show the outcome of your process.  They demonstrate document performance in concrete and observable terms.  Result measures can be both quality-related and effectiveness-related, and may include things like defect rates, customer satisfaction results and sales conversion, or focus on aspects like the average time needed to prepare a document or the average number of customer complaints.

Measurable, countable and observable

It is important to develop measures that can be tracked, counted and that are not hidden from view.  If it takes an extraordinary amount of effort to observe and collect measurement data, the information is likely to be of limited value and importance. So be sure that any measurements you collect are easy to understand and interpret.  Process measures that are not easy to understand are of little use.  Technical terms, industry jargon and financial figures are appropriate for those who understand them, but not everyone in the organization will.  Design your measures so that everyone involved will have a common language with which to discuss the potential actions and benefits of your Document Center of Excellence will become a valuable contribution to organizational performance.

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