Sunday 31 August 2008

Rationalising the measurement of benefits

A bouquet of flowers - the whole is more beautiful than the sum of the parts.  Measures must be in harmony also
So many innovative teams set out with good intentions (decide the measures and how to report them, baseline, assign tasks and responsibilities) and then find that it simply is too much work to keep measuring and reporting, for too little result.

The main problems that come up are:

  • too many measures, or too difficult to collect the results

  • difficult to translate into impacts which mean something (financially it's often relatively straightforward, in health in England use the tariff cost; but you don't make a full saving, and what of impacts in other areas such as patient experience?)

  • a specific innovation or new project is often part of a workstream (one of up to 10 key strategic objectives of a health community, for example Public Health, Inclusion). but where measures are chosen for each project it's difficult to aggregate when trying to report the outcomes of a workstream to the Board or Steering Group

It may be better to work the other way:

  1. Steering Group or workstream stakeholders define: the overall aims of the workstream; the benefits sought, and how these will be measured and translated into impacts

  2. Each project within the workstream picks benefits from the list (aim for up to 6), and have the measurement protocol already defined

  3. additional benefits can be reported or a case made to have these included amongst the overall workstream benefits, but rationalised

  4. projects can show the difference they've made, and workstreams can report on all projects within the workstream

  5. many measures are collected centrally so individual projects can get on with delivering better care for service users

Questions that typically arise

  • what if a project contribute to multiple workstreams? maintaining the preferred maximum of 6 measures per project, just report the benefits to multiple workstreams. Well-chosen measures will aggregate naturally eg they may not add together they may give an overall result which shows success even if it can't show which project delivered which amount of success

  • what if a benefit is recognised by multiple workstreams? get together and decide on a means of measuring progress towards/ achievement of the benefit which can be applied or used by all the workstreams, so wherever a project selects this measure as the way it will be scored it has a clearly defined way of measuring

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