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Measuring and ensuring the success of services

By Joe Heapy

Although metrics, measurement and target setting may seem more linked to service management than design, metrics have an important role to play in achieving the vision of a service. Service metrics define how a service will be built and how it will work. Designed metrics are needed to operationalise a new service.

Much of the discussion and effort around service measurement is linked to the fine-tuning of an existing operating model. The more glamorous strategic role for service metrics is not often considered.

Startups or organisations with established business metrics will, at some point, articulate a vision or set a strategic direction. Visions and strategies can be communicated in broad terms with bold statements about the future of the service, organisation or indeed the planet. However, making a vision a reality needs specifics.

A helpful test of whether a statement of vision or strategy is specific enough to be made real is whether the output or outcomes it implies are themselves measurable. For example, if a company wishes to become the ‘most loved [insert service or industry type] brand in the world’, then the next step is to break down into very clear statements what it will actually mean in concrete terms to be ‘most loved’.

A description of the aspiration needs to be translated into aspects of the service or business that can be measured.

This discussion leads us to a good example of ‘top-down’ versus ‘bottom-up’, for as organisations routinely reframe their vision and corporate strategy, they often continue to measure the things they have always measured.

A new vision or strategy implies that certain aspects of what an organisation does are now more important than they were – or that something completely new has now become more important.

Similarly, aspects of the operating model and service may no longer be important enough to continue measuring – data from these metrics may simply be a distraction.

Operationalising a new strategy, or indeed a new service should trigger organisations to question what they are or are not measuring, and why it’s important.

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