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Lou Lasday: Can't manage if can't measure

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  • | 6:00 p.m. June 8, 2007
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Lou Lasday: Can't manage if can't measure

Corporate quantification isn't just batches of dull numbers, it's measurement for decisions and your corporate future.

Mark Twain once said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics."

Many professional service executives feel the same way about corporate Measurement Quantification. My own statistics professor at the Smeal Business School at Penn State put it a different way. In defining quantification, but acknowledging it often is misused by incompetent managers in pursuit of self-serving results, he concluded: "Figures don't lie, but liars do figure!"

When you quantify a "thing" in business - any time - you create a strategic awareness and measurement as to its relationship to all other things reflected in the developing initiative. You learn, in essence, where your subject fits in. You use raw data - numbers - that by their mere existence are measurements that tell a story. It's up to you to interpret and finish the story to your liking and for the benefit of the corporation.

Are fewer customers responsible for doing greater volume in a declining customer base? Quantification will tell you that. Is a new promotion working by volume, by customer count, by demographics or none or some of the above? Quantification will tell you that too.

Numbers work for you

Quantification isn't just numbers. It's a measurement of direction and suggests solutions. It eliminates black holes and guesswork. It's an x-ray into the internals of your enterprise.

It allows you to see into every facet as a magnified snapshot or as a crystal-clear overview, one segment at a time. It's a microscope to focus in on the precise information you must know to advance your cause - provide value to your clients or customers, at a profit to your stockholders while building your brand.

It's simple to get started. First, identify a limited number of reports you want. Second, you'll need a general management report structure once you have your short list on the activities and data to be measured and quantified. Third, create a system for collecting the necessary data, along with identifying the staff member responsible for the assignment. Fourth, design the format and time lines for the management report. Who is involved, will there be graphs or charts, an overview, quotes from participants, recommendations? Fifth, create a panel for feedback and action. There, it's done!

If you and your staff are not familiar with this type of measurement information gathering, be certain to ease into the project. Seek only the most important information you'll need. It's wise to involve the folks doing the study well in advance of the start date. Make certain they understand this is not just busy work. They are being taken into your confidence because of the extreme need for the information, their respective importance to the organization and their understanding of the corporation's goals - plus your personal confidence in them to succeed!

Then collect the data in the most efficient, least intrusive manner possible. Your object here is to detect and analyze patterns, observe strengths, acknowledge weaknesses, see opportunities, identify competitive threats, and find direction for a more productive future.

Get answers

If you are a Gulf Coast community bank, for example, you might want to know your success in cross selling services. Do your mortgage customers also do their saving with you? Do corporate borrowers do their personal banking with you? If not, why not?

And if you're a corporate law firm, are you growing? Is your net profit per employee increasing? Are your existing clients recommending your services? Do you even know? And like the banker, do your corporate and business clients come to you for wills, trusts, and other personal work?

If you're a Financial Advisor, is your growth coming from snow birds, full-time residents, young entrepreneurs, widows, newly remarried or one specific occupation? Then, perhaps you'll find the best areas to concentrate your marketing communications. The process is the same in professional services of architectural, investment real estate, accounting, leasing and more.

Quantification will tell you all this. It's insight. It's realization - it's a major leap to making what you have work better. Quantification reveals problems, suggests solutions, and eliminates bias and confusion. It can enable you to determine what initiatives are working and how well. Remember, if it can't be measured, it can't be managed!

Lou Lasday, an independent marketing advisor residing on Longboat Key, creates action-oriented Strategic Marketing Initiatives for Gulf Coast emerging companies. A career Direct Response Executive, he has been a general partner of a major national marketing communications firm and Regional President of the American Marketing Association. Mr. Lasday can be reached at [email protected]


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