How To Measure What Matters

Typical product metrics

A typical organisation might track the following product management metrics:

  • Number of new users
  • Net promoter score
  • Retention rate

These metrics tell you something about the product. When tracked over time, they tell you if these measures of the product are improving. It is a good thing to be measured and held accountable for improving product results.

However, these metrics don’t tell you the single most important thing you need to know: how to improve.

To achieve results, you must first understand what causes the results.

Drivers vs results

An effective way to get a handle on this is to group metrics (KPIs) into categories – drivers and results.

Drivers are the cause of outputs. They are human behaviours. You can quantify a driver by measuring the health of selected processes or methods. These are things like amount of WIP, cycle time and defects found before release.

Results come from optimising the drivers. Things like number of new users, net promoter score and retention rate.

Consider an initiative to migrate product modules to a new UI. Separating the drivers from the results helps identify where to focus improvement efforts.

Summary: Measure drivers over results

Focus your improvement efforts on drivers, not results. If you identify and improve the true drivers, improvement in the results will follow.