Peter Drucker is famous for saying, “You only improve what you measure.” Some swear by it, and others swear when they hear it. The way we measure things is critical in how we define success. There are many complexities in modern business. Measurement is not the most vital, but it is foundational. Don’t treat measurement as an afterthought.
I have seen products or campaigns launched during my career only to be asked how it is doing. With no measurement planning, it can be tricky to answer the question. Even with a track-everything approach, it can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, possible but costly. If measurement requires special codes, segmentation, or other techniques, lost data is likely. But on the other hand, I have also had projects that kicked off and had, as a required artifact, a measurement plan. While I have made the former workout, I much prefer the latter. This brings another saying to mind, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
A measurement plan does not need to be complex; a simple document with what will be tracked and what is out of scope can suffice. A more comprehensive plan may include images of crucial elements, code for tracking elements, and expected data locations. It might include segmentation to compare test and control populations. Finally, a plan might include what is not in the scope of measurement.
A list of desired metrics is not a measurement plan. At best, it is a wish list of what the business wants to have measured, but it is not a measurement plan on its own. Gathering business metrics together is an important exercise but just a step in creating a measurement plan.
Similarly, creating a list of how users engage with the campaign or product is just a step to creating a measurement plan. With modern instrumentation, we can identify minute engagements with an experience. It is incredible to have that level of fidelity in our tracking. Just make sure that you can separate the signal from the noise.
The goal of a well-crafted measurement plan is to make the connections explicit. They are connecting the key metrics to the key engagements and documenting how the tracking will be accomplished, where the data will flow, and how it will be surfaced to dashboards and analysts. Post-launch, the measurement plan should be updated as engagements are adjusted, reporting changes, and code is updated.
On your next project kick-off, ensure a measurement plan is part of the required documents. Then, make the broader team responsible for populating and living by that measurement plan. It will pay dividends in more significant results as you improve what you measure.