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  1. Objective Is Identified
  2. Process Outputs Are Identified
  3. Process Is Designed to Provide Process Metrics
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Process Is Designed to Provide Process Metrics

Robust processes have associated process metrics as well as service metrics. The key difference between a service metric and a process metric is that a service metric focuses on how effective a process is with regard to a customer, while a process metric focuses on how efficient a process is with regard to a supplier.

A process metric indicates the productivity of a procedure by measuring such things as resources consumed or cycle times. The frequency of on-time delivery of reports is a service metric because it measures the end result of the process (which is what the customer gets). The number of times that a report had to be reprinted to obtain acceptable quality is a process metric because it measures the amount of effort required to produce the end product. Common examples of process metrics include abnormally ending job processing, rerouting problems, rerunning jobs, reprinting reports, and restoring files. This characteristic reinforces the notion that process metrics should be supplier-oriented and focused on measuring the entity correctly rather than measuring the correct entity. In other words, these metrics determine efficiency. The following table summarizes the differences between service and process metrics.

Service Metric

Process Metric

Focuses on the customer

Focuses on the supplier

Measures levels of effectiveness

Measures levels of efficiency

Deals with the quality of output

Deals with the quality of input

Examples:

  • System availability
  • Response times
  • Accuracy of content
  • On-time delivery
  • Network access
  • Database integrity

Examples:

  • Job and transaction throughput
  • Elapsed cycle times
  • Quantity of resources consumed
  • Abnormal job terminations
  • Rerouting of problems
  • Reruns, reprints, restores

Process Metrics Are Compiled and Analyzed, Not Just Collected

Like service metrics, process metrics need to be compiled and analyzed. The importance of analyzing missed process metrics is often overlooked when the associated service metrics are met. This could be the case in terms of a service metric involving output delivery being met even though the job and its output had to be reprocessed several times. As with service metrics, the real value of meaningful process metrics come from thoroughly and consistently examining them for trends, patterns, and relationships and then applying the results of the analysis to improve the efficiency of the particular service being measured.

Documentation Is Thorough, Accurate, and Easily Understood

Documentation is one of the fundamentals that clearly separate mediocre infrastructures from those that are truly world-class. Well-written documentation facilitates the training, maintenance, and marketing of key processes. Progressive shops hold appropriate staffs accountable for reading and understanding key documentation by making it part of their performance reviews. These shops also have their new employees test the clarity and readability of the writing while ensuring that senior analysts and technical leads have validated the accuracy of the material. Effective documentation can come in various forms, including online and hardcopy narrative procedures, diagramed illustrations such as flowcharts or bubble charts, and web-enabled help menus.

Process Is Streamlined as Much as Possible

Streamlining a process involves removing all non–value-added steps, eliminating redundant steps, placing the steps in the most efficient sequence possible, and streamlining individual steps as much as possible. For long-established processes this may be difficult to accomplish, due to users being deeply entrenched in inefficient practices. Here are three of the most common responses we get when we ask why a particular process cannot or should not be changed:

  • We've always done it that way.

  • It seems to work most of the time, so why bother changing it?

  • Analyst X designed this process, and only he can change it. (We hear this last response even after analyst X has left the department.)

These explanations are not adequate justifications for retaining an existing process when improvements through streamlining are clearly warranted. Once non–value-added steps are removed, streamlining should proceed: Eliminate redundant steps, place the steps in the most efficient sequence possible, and streamline the individual steps as much as possible.

Harris Kern's Enterprise Computing Institute

The underlying objective of Harris Kern's Enterprise Computing Institute is to be the world's foremost source of information on managing enterprise computing in the 21st century. Organizations that master our approach and techniques will ensure that their IT infrastructure—comprising mainframe, client/server, and Internet computing—are closely aligned with their business objectives. Surprisingly, technology is the easy part. The key is in taking a comprehensive approach that includes people, process, and organization.

Our approach is well-documented in our books, white papers, and articles. Like the James Martin books that provided guidance to mainframe computing in the early years and the more recent Dummy series for PC computing, The Enterprise Computing Institute series of books provides guidance to enterprise computing for all IT professionals in the 21st century.

Our approach and techniques are proven. Placing special emphasis on organization, people, process, and technology, we have assisted numerous companies to assess, build, and manage complex distributed infrastructures. The companies include, among others, The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, Standard & Poors, Twentieth Century Fox, U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, The Weather Channel, several Time Warner companies, Warner Brothers, CNF, TransAmerica Corporation, Sony Pictures, Fannie Mae, and Hong Kong International Terminals. Over the next few months we will describe our approach, methodologies, processes, organizational structures, and technology architectures in a series of exciting articles—articles that will allow you to build a world-class IT infrastructure.

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