How to pick a good metric :: Article from OnStartups

Got this in my feed the other day:

It’s a great read and has some salient points to put to work right away at your startup.

It is easy to go crazy with the term big data or the track everything mantra. Not saying tracking everything isn’t good – we tend to track more data than we need but mostly cause we have not had the time to cull it. We track, store it and analyze when we can. I figure someday at Spuul we will have more bodies and time which allow an employee to go much deeper to find some nuggets. Surprisingly some of our old data we have been collecting has already been useful in making some new product decisions.

What I like about this article is how they define some good metrics:

Comparative: this is important. You need to see something that is easily measurable against an old figure to see the difference. Something is showing as improving or getting worse.

Understandable: I digest this as make it something even the the non techies will easily understand.

A ratio or rate: This helps to deal with the comparative issue.

Behavior changing: A metric must help you make product or business decisions. Hopefully it helps to alleviate any opinion or gut feel.

There is a ton to talk about here. How does one come up with these metrics that make sense for their business? I don’t think it is too hard – you will quickly start wishing for particular data points as your business operates. Then make it happen, iterate and look again. More needs will appear, more data will get generated and you just keep going.

One day you will wake up to an almost dashboard of data that helps guide you day to day. Sure it could get overwhelming and at times you might have to cut some data or make it simpler but the slow evolution of your data needs will explain itself over time.

Trick is to start collecting, showing and making it useful.

This article just helps give you some better guidelines for getting going.


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