Business Metrics – Do You Really Need to Track That?

I was in a recent client meeting where an internal process was being reviewed for improvement. One of the problems that surfaced about the current process was how difficult it is to track the time it takes to complete a client request. The current request management system doesn’t track the number of hours from start to finish.
After some discussion, it was revealed that the main concern was that the department consistently meet their documented service level agreement (SLA) to complete all client requests within 3 days.

I asked the client a question, “Why are you tracking hours, if you’re being measured on days?”

After some more discussion, the general consensus was that there was really no reason to track the number of hours it took a team member to complete a request, it had just been done for so long, no one had thought to question it.

Tracking metrics can get really time-consuming and thus, really costly, if it’s not done wisely. In organizations with lots of disparate systems – which, let’s be honest, is most organizations – it can be an even more tedious and expensive task to combine and reconcile data from all of those systems. By measuring only what’s really important for making decisions or taking action, you free yourself and your staff up from the low-value work of collecting data and have more bandwidth for the high-value work of analyzing and interpreting data.


Some questions to ask before you decide to track or measure a business process:

  • Who wants to see this number or measure? How often do they need to see it?

If no one is ever looking at or asking for this, why waste time tracking it? If someone only wants to see it infrequently, is it worth a huge effort to collect it continuously?


  • What is the number or measure used for once it’s collected?
    In short, why does anyone care about this number? Will something break or go wrong if this measure is not available?


  • Is there another measure that’s close enough?
    Sometimes you don’t need an accurate or precise measure. For many business decisions, you only need to know if a measure is over a certain threshold or within a certain range. Question if you need an exact number or if a close estimate will do.


By taking an objective look at your business process metrics and measures, you may find there’s improvement opportunity hidden there as well.


Kisha Solomon is a project manager and digital content specialist. She has a very particular set of skills; skills that she has acquired in over 15 years in management consulting, IT project management, and digital media. She is the lead consultant at Sage Small Business Solutions, an Atlanta-based professional services company.

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