Resilience Series – Metrics & Measurements

Part 6 Road to Resilience Series - Metrics & Measurements

Evaluation Northstar

Full circle on reslience program adminstration

In the final part of the Road to Resilience Series – Metrics & Measurements, I will share insights for evaluating resilience programs. So far, we’ve reviewed crafting a vision, strategy, and program requirements. Here, we will close the series with the importance of program evaluation. We’ll discuss high-level methodology then review specific insights for resilience programming. 

Grace Murray Hopper said, “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” Ms. Hopper was a United States Navy rear admiral and computer scientist born in 1906. Her quote stresses the straightforward goal of producing reliable and valid data measurements to drive business goals forward. Meaning there is no way to understand a program’s effectiveness unless you collect and analyze relevant data to gain insights. Data aids in decision-making as well. 

Beyond Counting Business Continuity Plans

Program management pitfalls

When I was new to business continuity, we counted the number of plans that achieved annual compliance. By year’s end, this number was always a hundred percent. The measure told us very little about the program’s health. Additionally, there were no metrics that displayed the state of readiness to respond or recover from a crisis. My experience on the public side was very prescriptive as well. Health and Human Services executives gave us a template to follow but nothing about gauging a program’s fitness.

In practice, there are two main goals of program evaluation. One area is called formative evaluation. It’s also called process evaluation and speaks to how well a program progresses towards a goal. Results data displays ways to improve progress and address gaps. The other is called summative evaluation and highlights outcomes assessment. As a tool, it’s helpful for final decision-making.

Both methods have value and can be combined to share different aspects of program results. Another technique is impact evaluation. For resilience programs, this means tracking past interruptions and events to understand how well controls worked and continuously targeting areas for improvement. 

Two people discussing an evaluation

What is program evaluation?

Let’s start with the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of evaluation. For some, evaluation means applied research and embraces the traditions and values of the scientific method. Others believe process versus outcome evaluation is more valuable. Many focus on measuring business unit, plan, department, or program health.

OMERAD says experts define evaluation from different perspectives:

  • The realization of process objectives 
  • Providing information for decision making 
  • Systematic investigation of value-aligned with standards 

Any measurement process should correlate with the stated program goals—data and outcome metrics to the program’s success. Advanced methods link the program’s value to organizational goals. Finally, a resilience program is best embedded in the business, aligning measurements to outcomes. Ideally, it’s a comprehensive approach that enables critical services to continue without interruption. 

Evaluation Process

Six simple steps for program evaluation

After completing the steps below, you have a program plan that provides an evaluation structure. Establishing a program plan lets you assess the program with critical metrics and measures. The six recommended steps are:

  • Define the program’s goal(s)
  • Outline the overall objective
  • State the program description and purpose
  • Then share the program evaluation elements
  • Share the sources of evaluation data & collection
  • Describe data results and improvement recommendations

Knitting these together, you create an integrated framework that ties your vision and strategy to executable actions. 

Receiving program feedback

A fine balancing act for meaningful insights

As I stated earlier, counting your plans does not share program success. However, balancing meaningful insights with high-level visuals in today’s climate is vital. The best practice is to enable your stakeholders to see live dashboards or scorecards to provide real-time data. To do this, leveraging a platform with data feeds is ideal. 

A vital part of the process is to share improvement recommendations with leadership and stakeholders for feedback. Regular check-in meetings with management give you input and highlight the program’s value. These sharing and listening sessions are vital for ongoing business input and better than a siloed approach. As the resilience expert, you want to guide them with a data map but be flexible enough to adjust for business needs. 

Program metrics and measures

Showcasing resilience measurements

So, the question you are likely asking is–what should I measure? What are the critical elements for a resilience program? As I offered throughout the series, the exact aspect of the program will differ based on your industry, company culture, and program’s maturity. However, some areas should be foundational for a resilience program. 

As the program owner, you can build a simple dashboard that displays the agreed-upon goals on the left and then the measurements on the right. This way, you keep stated outcomes top of mind while highlighting program metrics. Then, be prepared to drill down into measures along with a deeper dive into the data, if needed. Using a simple visual style enables a robust process excellence approach. 

Successful Program

A process excellence approach to resilience

Ensuring a well-managed process keeps customers informed and provides peace of mind. Providing data in this way helps to communicate your analysis of the situation and state of the program. Your evaluation should also address countermeasures and systems of control. Good administration techniques include the integration of lessons learned to enhance resilience management. 

Business continuity is the plan that keeps your organization operational during and after an interruption. It’s often helpful from a continuity perspective to share the impact of downtime from a crisis on productivity, IT disruptions, financial loss or delay, potential regulatory or contract fines, and possible customer loss. As I shared in the original The Road To Resilience blog, a resilience program is the wave of the future. We can debate whether it will subsume or replace BCM. However, it is already gaining traction with ERM and boards. Regardless, it makes sense for a system to combine risk and recovery with business resilience. 

Program Success Strategy

Final thoughts on metrics & measures

Resilience is an organization’s agility in a changing environment to deliver objectives, survive a crisis, and prosper. After all, a business resilience program is broader than maintaining operations when disruptions happen. It is wide-ranging in scope and exemplifies a business’s capability to bounce back from disaster. At its core, it is a strategic mindset. 

So, once launched, metrics and measures are guardrails to help your program stay on track. Roadmaps and navigation systems are helpful to see where you are headed—my objective with the series is to provide you with the tools to build programming for positive results. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog, were I will discuss specific examples to evaluate a resilience program.

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