About two years ago, we realized that we need a better way to track and measure initiatives within the company. Like many small businesses, we were going along figuring we were doing everything right as long as our results were good enough... until they weren't. We wanted to grow, not settle. We started using Rhythm Systems to plan our goals and strategies, report key performance indicators (KPIs), set team initiatives, and track individual priorities. But what are those KPIs and individual priorities?
Leading vs Lagging Indicators
It's tempting to just track the "big stuff" like the bottom line or, in the case of a pathology lab, the turn-around time, but those are lagging indicators. If that is all we manage, it's too late. To truly achieve successful outcomes, we need to measure the leading indicators, the inputs required to drive the change we need.
For example, when we aim to improve our support service, we measure indicators such as:
- Number of support tickets created weekly
- Average speed to answer queue calls
- Call abandonment (clients who hang up before their call is answered)
- Cases per user ratio
In the lab, some leading indicators for turn-around time might be:
- Time from receipt of sample to grossing
- Embedding, cutting, and staining
- Slide mounting, labeling, and delivery
- Transcription of gross description to delivery to pathologist for diagnosis
- Transcription of diagnosis to verification and sign-out
Measuring each phase individually gives a clearer picture of how the inputs affect the outcome and shows where bottlenecks may be occurring.
Manage the Inputs, Report the Outcomes
Once we've gathered the information, we have to decide what to do with it. At Voicebrook, we use the leading indicators as our KPIs and set goals accordingly. Each team has priorities to help us meet our goals, and each individual has priorities and score cards to track progress toward those goals. The object is not to judge performance or criticize failures, but rather to learn from the results and make plans for going forward.
For the best results, Rhythm Systems suggests regular meetings to review dashboards and address concerns. Weekly meetings allow teams to check progress, tackle roadblocks, and offer support. Quarterly and annual meetings provide an opportunity to see what worked or didn't work, and plan for the next quarter or year.
As always, don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or want to learn more.