How to Use Measurement to Foster Collaboration

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Successful businesses have an integrated approach to carry out the work required to create, produce, and deliver what they offer to their customers. This allows them minimize potential hiccups that lead to poor customer experience and hence, customer dissatisfaction.

Collaboration across the organization is key to integrate activities performed in different departments. You want the customer service reps to be conversant about why there is a price increase. You want the sales managers to be knowledgeable in explaining how the product engineers incorporate user’s behaviors into the design of the product that enhances performance. You want the warehouse manager to be cognizant of the product returns policy in order to schedule resources to handle returns in a timely manner.

To foster collaboration, one effective approach is to use performance measures that stress business results delivered by the collective efforts. Let’s use the example on product returns to illustrate how this works.To foster collaboration, one effective approach is to use performance measures that stress business results delivered by the collective efforts. Share on X

  1. Determine the ideal outcome

When a customer returns a purchase, she is an unhappy customer. The product fails to meet expectations. At that point, the best the business can do is to process the return expediently. From the customer’s perspective, a full refund to her account should be processed as soon as the product is returned. Let’s say the product is shipped to the warehouse. The refund policy says payment is reversed within 5 business days upon the item is received. This is the ideal outcome.

  1. Understand the process

For this company, returns processing involves a few steps. The warehouse inspects the returned item. The item is then returned to inventory when there is no damage. A customer support group processes the refund when alerted.

To ensure the 5-day policy is met, warehouse needs to have a designated area for gathering the returned shipments. Appropriate staff need to be assigned to do the inspection and process the items on a scheduled basis. Once the items are processed at the warehouse, the customer support group is alerted to reverse payment.

The coordination of work within each department and across the two departments ought to be coherent so that both teams have adequate time to complete all the work within the 5 days. This calls for a discussion with the two teams at the table. It is an important step because understanding the work involved in each area and potential constraints enable both teams to explore options that are acceptable to each other. It also removes silo thinking. Given that each area has other responsibilities, the customer support group certainly wouldn’t want to be alerted on the very last day that the refund must be processed.

  1. Identify performance measures and targets

There are at least three performance measures for the return process. The first one is the overall 5-day commitment to the customers. The second is the number of days warehouse takes to process a return. The third is the number of days the customer support group takes to process the refund. The first one is the overall performance measure. The other two are departmental measures. Both departments are responsible to meet the targets for all three measures. Each department is responsible for its respective department measure. As a collective group, both are responsible for the overall performance of the return process. When issues arise, they need to work together to resolve them.

Measurements that monitor the overall outcomes delivered by multiple areas require an examination of activities involved. This puts the onus on the groups involved to collaborate and develop coherent approaches that work. This collaboration not only drives understanding of work beyond departmental boundaries, it fosters deeper support and acknowledgement of challenges faced in each area. It is an excellent way to build high performance teams.

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