Be careful what you measure #SystemsThinking #Lean #Agile

I was reminded how important it is to be careful what you measure on the weekend. I had to call two call centers and both surprisingly implemented the same Service Level Agreements. Both promised that calls would be answered within two minutes. But surprisingly, both had implemented what I would consider ‘cheats’ to reach those measures.

Both Call Centers would not let calls get through until there were enough people available to guarantee the two minutes response time. Before that people would get a busy signal. I had to call back over 20 times to get a ring tone at one Call Center. They sub-optimized the system!

They were able to say they had two minutes response time because they excluded the hour of my time I kept on re-dialing until I was able to get a ringtone.

This reminded me of Helpdesks that solely measured the closure of tickets. This created the behaviour of Helpdesk analysts closing tickets even if the problem was not fully resolved. They just mentioned that another ticket could be created if the problem still existed. So again, they focused solely on their process, sub-optimized it and the customer suffered.

So be careful on what you decide to measure. In this situation the only measure was a two minute response time. So they changed the system so that they could meet that measure.

They focused solely on a measure that didn’t relate directly to the whole customer service experience. In the end they met their goal and possibly made customer service worse.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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