The whole point of metrics is that they’re objective. In business, numbers are often the only truth you can find. They form the basis for analysis, interpretation, and speculation. Yet metrics aren’t always as objective as they appear to be. To analyze the stock market, for example, one person might use data from the opening bell. Another person might look at data from the closing bell. One person measures in dollars, and another person measures in yen. Everyone’s data is correct, but none of it aligns. If these four people had a meeting, they’d have to spend a bunch of time figuring out whose “truth” to use. A similar situation plays out at many organizations. Everyone looks at different data, or they look at the same data in different ways. Suddenly your objective data feels pretty subjective. With a standard set of metrics for your organization, you can frame your discussions around an objective truth that everyone can access.
Here’s four reasons why you should standardize your metrics:
1. Standard metrics make communication easier
Standardized metrics mean everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to your data. Without standard metrics, collaboration starts with everyone coming to the table with different numbers and different units, not to mention different interpretations. By standardizing your metrics, you can skip these steps and get straight to the conversation. The more agreement you can find on basic things like what numbers to use, the more you can focus on discussions that really matter.
2. Standard metrics make data validation easier
When metrics aren’t standardized, it’s harder to verify if data is accurate. When multiple versions of the same data circulate through an organization, each of them needs verification on their own, even if every version of the data expresses the same information. In the end, this often means data isn’t checked as well as it should be. Some of the data may never get checked at all. By standardizing your metrics, your data validation efforts go further. Instead of checking several versions once, you can check one set of data a few times. The result is more accurate data in less time and with fewer resources.
3. Standard metrics create a single source of truth
When you need answers fast, it helps to know where to look. It also helps to know that the answer you receive will be up-to-the-minute, verified, and in the format you expect. With standardized metrics, it’s all possible. However, standardizing your metrics is more than picking out what units you want to use and designing some analytics dashboards. You’ll need everyone on board and ready to adopt a standard. Depending on your organization, this may require some negotiation, but it’s worth it. Without metrics almost everyone can agree on, people will have a hard time getting with the program. Instead, get everyone to agree on how to measure metrics and then allow individual departments or users decide how they want to view the data. So long as the underlying data stays the same, no one has to compromise on what they need.
Another important step towards standardizing data is choosing an analytics or reporting tool that works in real time with real-time data. In doing so, you’ll eliminate much of the confusion over which data to use, because everyone will have access to the latest information.
4. Standard metrics democratize data
When everyone works from the same metrics, everyone can be a part of the conversation. In the past, insights from analytics were only available to executives, managers, and analysts. It was simply impractical to take analytics outside of the highest levels of the company. However, as analytics spreads out of the office and into places like factories and warehouses, organizations have the opportunity to foster alignment by standardizing metrics wherever possible. When a data analyst and a factory worker use the same data, it can be a powerful thing. Of course, everyone’s job is different, and most workers will need something purpose-built for their job. A welder can use data about a new order or a shipping delay, but they probably don’t need regional sales numbers. The idea isn’t to show everyone the same data, but by drawing from the same data and standardizing things like units of measurement, you can avoid a ton of confusion between departments and give everyone a voice in the analytics conversation. By agreeing on a set of metrics, information can move across several teams while maintaining its integrity. Simply put, standard metrics make it easier for everyone to communicate.
To find out how iCharts can help your organization standardize its metrics, check out our product page.