4 Metrics to Measure Your Team's Productivity Show me the data!

By Albizu Garcia

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

xavierarnau | Getty Images

You can't possibly evaluate every team based on the same criteria. What constitutes success for a marketing team will differ vastly from what you might expect from a successful software development team. However, understanding how well your employees are performing is essential for evaluating your business development and improving outcomes.

While there are many subjective ways to analyze team effectiveness, you should be using data to back up how well people are performing. Following in the strategy of agile teams, constantly measuring human capital investments can be a significantly more useful tactic than setting up a yearly, or even quarterly, review.

That's not to say you shouldn't take the time for one-on-ones with your employees; you should. But it is also essential to create more flexible feedback processes that allow you to keep a finger on the pulse of your team and make adjustments as necessary.

Related: Help Your Team Members Succeed (Especially When They're Tempted to Leave)

Here are four numbers to track so you can ensure your team performs productively.

1. Planned-to-done ratios.

Projects stay uncompleted for any number of reasons. Maybe you changed your branding tactic, or your company pivoted to start working on a product that better suits your customer needs. Even if your change of plans was helpful for advancing your business, it is beneficial to understand how well your team executed plans you made previously. The planned-to-done ratio measures what percentage of the tasks you set out for your team were completed satisfactorily.

Analyzing how well your team was able to complete a given list of tasks gives you deep insights into your team's capacity and potential for productivity. If your organization is only achieving a small percentage of the jobs you set out, your planning process might not be effective, or your staff might not have the skills you need.

2. Cycle time.

While agile strategies were created with software development teams in mind, you can use agile metrics in almost any business. Cycle time is based on doing work in "iterative sprints" that cut projects down to a two-week maximum. This system forces you to break down tasks into bite-sized segments so you can optimize productivity. The shorter your cycle time, the more quickly you can get work done.

Related: How Customer Conversations and Feedback Helped This Photo Company Improve Its Business Model

When a deadline is months away, there is little pressure to complete projects efficiently. However, when you break tasks down into small cycles, the upcoming deadlines push your team to work productively and think about the actionable aspects of each project. Rather than measuring whether or not your team completed a given task on time, this metric tells you how effectively your team works within a given time structure.

3. Attendance.

This number does not have to be like a school roll call. However, when you are working in small, collaborative teams, the presence of team members can make a significant difference in the success of the final product. Even if you are working remotely, it is easy to tell when a team member is not fully committed to the project. Pay attention to missed meetings, sick days, and the number of times people arrive late to work. These factors may be signs of burnout, health issues or other problems.

When one team member is not pulling their weight, it can overburden other employees who have to pick up the slack. On a small team that works under tight deadlines, low attendance by a single worker can cause resentment and mental health issues for the rest of the team. While time and presence do not necessarily translate exactly to productivity outcomes, they can be a useful measure of your team's motivation and effectiveness.

4. Escaped defects.

This measure comes from software development teams that want to see how many bugs they missed in a new product. However, it can easily apply to other organizations if defects are taken as mistakes that affect the customer. For example, if you are a marketing team, a defect could be a failed Facebook campaign or a customer complaint. While these situations might arise less frequently than software bugs, a measure of mistakes over time allows you to analyze how accurately your team is meeting customer needs. If they are sacrificing quality to meet deadlines, perhaps you need to reallocate talent during your planning process.

Related: 9 Productivity Mistakes You're Making in the First 10 Minutes of Your Day

To measure this data point, you should set up a simple feedback system so your customers and your team can quickly report any problems. Once you have consolidated the "bugs" or defects over a given time, you can calculate the escaped defects ratio -- the number of errors over a given time -- which creates a direct link between productivity and customer satisfaction.

Agile teams excel because they are efficient, non-hierarchical and communicative. As a team leader, it's your job to continually monitor the productivity of your team so you can connect business goals to project outcomes. These metrics will show you clearly how efficient your team is so you can make data-driven decisions about future tasks.

Albizu Garcia

Co-Founder and CEO of Gain

Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, a marketing technology company that automates the social media and content approval workflow for marketing teams.

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