Measuring and ensuring the success of services

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Although metrics, measurement and target setting may seem more linked to service management than design, metrics have an important role in achieving a service's vision. 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 fine-tuning 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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Originally published in New Design Magazine, Issue 90, June 2011

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