Measuring The Unmeasurable in Business Processes


    There are many Unmeasurables in Business Processes such as Customer Support Effectiveness, Customer Satisfaction, Service Excellence, etc. However, State of the Art in Business Process Measurement and Analysis is that many of these Subjective Factors are converted into some sort of Objective Scores.

    For example, Customer Satisfaction Index (CSAT) may be on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, if a customer sends flowers to the CEO with a thank-you note, it may be a 10. If the customer sends a nasty note saying that they are terribly unsatisfied and will let everyone that they know about the poor service they got, may be a safe 1!

    This is where sometimes, capturing Subjective Performance Information in the form of open ended text may convey more meaning than reducing everything to numbers and averaging them up and down. For example, outliiers, both positive and negative may need to flagged, counted and descriptions strored and readily made available! Analyzing these pieces of information and making effective use of them falls in the realm of art rather than a science!

    If there were five positive outliers and five negative outliers, it may be worthwhile for the Process Folks to keep tab of the descriptions of what made these positive and negative outliers are and not assume that on whole, things are hunky-dory! The detailed open eneded  information may be much more valuable to the organization than numbers themselves. Would the negative outliers be so negative that word of mouth from those can kill anything positive that may come out of the organization?

    While what cannot be measured cannot be managed well, sometimes we may have to pay attention to Intangibles and accept them as intangibles, pay attention to them and get some useful actions out of them! This is especially useful in companies like Pharmaceutical companies where beyond a certain number of negative outliers, like side effects of drugs, the issue quickly escalates from statistical outliers to a full-blown crisis in no time, ironically, whether it is warranted or not! Perception overtakes reality!

    Intangible factors may mean very good things or very harmful things, depending upon what they are, which industry you are in, what your products or services are. Unmeasurables can be quite tricky and may need to be handled better than measurables, sometimes!

    There are intangible realities which float near us, formless and without words; realities which no one has thought out, and which are excluded for lack of interpreters. – Natalie Clifford Barney


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