[lead]”What gets measured, gets managed.” -Peter Drucker[/lead]
Early on in my career I’m sure I made some great decisions and not-so-great decisions, but I don’t really know which was which, as I had no means of measuring success of the outcome. No control, no variable defined, and no final tally. Capturing and analyzing data seemed tedious and an unnecessary distraction from what I deemed “real work.”
In my early 20’s I was a marketing intern for a high-tech firm in the area, and had acquired a business mentor in the office who challenged me to prove the value of my work. “Show me how many leads, or how much revenue I should expect for these activities,” she asked. I was dumbfounded. [pullquote]If you can measure it, you can improve it.[/pullquote] I had nothing to show other than a list of to-dos I had created then crossed off. There was no doubt I was busy, but there was no indication that what I was doing was providing any real value to the organization, therefore, at that point of time I could either be the most valuable employee or completely and utterly expendable.
My mentor walked me through several methods for measuring success in each of my tasks, and taught me the value of evaluation. “If you can measure it, you can improve it.”
Measuring Success Is A Process
“Measure twice, cut once,” is a popular saying in woodworking, though it’s terrible advice in project management. Measuring project or campaign progress can’t be taken once or even twice at the onset; it’s an ongoing task.
It’s Like Surgery
Think of a project or campaign as a surgical procedure. The surgeon (you) is operating, with help from O.R. nurses, anesthesiologists, and medical students (support staff, vendors). The improvement of quality of life, or survival depends upon your skill as the surgeon. But what surgeon would begin operating if the patient’s vitals weren’t monitored?
Same goes for your projects. Attaching monitors, check-ins, and reporting to your project will help you ensure appropriate trajectory of the project, maintain scope, and at conclusion, gauge your success against the goals applied at the onset.
A Heartbeat Works
So you’re wondering how you’re expected to get a constant flow of updates for that project that jumps along in stages? Keeping it on a cardiac monitor-of-sorts will be fine! Ensuring a regular, rhythmic “ping” of project activity will help you keep tabs on progress and earned value. Burn down charts are a great way to gain that regular “ping” to measure against.
That’s Great For Projects, What About Campaigns?
For campaigns it typically operates a bit differently. The project is the research and planning, then the execution is really the (nearly) final phase of that project, with the wrap up and final metrics being delivered in the final phase.
For online promotion & advertising, consider scheduling check-ins at set intervals. My own recipe involves a graduated schedule with longer intervals between check-ins over time. Your own plan might include equal intervals, or possibly a “set it and forget it” with an end date declared.
Know Your Goals
Often said about New Year’s Resolutions, vague goals such as “lose weight” or “waste less time,” the goals should be quantifiable, otherwise they remain subjective and of no real value. When setting such goals for measuring success, be sure to include industry averages as well as market leaders. [pullquote]…the goals should be quantifiable, otherwise they remain subjective and of no real value.[/pullquote] If a CTR for text link ads for a highly competitive group of keywords is .79% with the leaders at 2.5%, set your minimum to around the average and a stretch goal of 2% and keep your finger on the pulse as you conduct your campaign, adjusting as you need to improve your figures.
Ultimately, if you aren’t tracking your progress you have no way of intelligently managing the project or process. If you’re struggling to determine meaningful goals and metrics and tools to measure the project or campaign, contact me by filling out the form on the right to learn how I can help you set, measure, and achieve your goals.