As previously discussed, choosing metrics that matter is critical to the successful deployment of the Arizona Management System (see https://ams.az.gov/about/ams-focus for details.) It is important to recognize that as Arizona state employees, we do in fact make “widgets” – i.e., our products and services – and the metrics we choose to visually track indicate our ongoing level of quality and service in delivering these products and services.
But we don’t make widgets just to make them. Our widgets’ inherent value exists solely through the eyes of the people who use them. These individuals are our customers.
The management system we are deploying is based in part on principles of Lean management. Lean aims to constantly optimize cost, quality and service by engaging and equipping employees to deliver value for our customers.
As state employees, we sometimes struggle with the notion that we have customers, but getting this right lies at the core of any successful Lean transformation. If it’s easier, think of everything we do as having an end user – someone who needs and is going to use our work product or service.
Maybe you enter data, or write permits or reports. Perhaps you field inquiries or respond torequests for assistance. The important thing is to correctly identify the end user first and talk with them to understand their wants, needs and expectations so that you can deliver quality outcomes as fast as possible.
It’s not about always giving customers everythingthey want. It’s about striking a balance between delivering what customers value in our products and services, and what citizens and taxpayers demand, which are our agencies’ vital mission outcomes. We must do both.
Determining what customers value about your products and services can help you choose metrics that matter. Here are some typical customer priorities to consider:
- Ease of use: How long does it take the customer to complete an action using your widget?
- Timeliness: How many days does it take for the customer to receive your widget, and is this within the promised time frame?
- Completeness and Accuracy: Are you able to deliver your widget to the customer thoroughly and without mistakes?
- Cost: Does the actual cost of your widget fall within the estimated amount?
- Consistency: Is the quality of your widget within acceptable standards every time?
- Choice: Do your customers have options for receiving your widget?