I have for many years believed that in order for economic development efforts to be successful, it requires clearly defined goals that can be articulated and measured.
If an organization or a community does not have a plan or strategy or more importantly a method to measure success, it is difficult to see the road ahead.
Metrics are not however, just important for economic development, they are important for all business activities.
Metrics give us the ability to measure what has occurred while at the same time offering the ability to look forward and make any corrective actions that are necessary.
Metrics matter when they help improve a process. Metrics are used to change focus, to fine tune a process, to create a process, to identify a problem, to identify what’s working or not working, to identify whether to turn left or right.
We use them for performance reviews, to communicate success, and to allocate more or less resources. We can determine velocity, energy, and intensity to change results.
People need to see if their actions are making a difference weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Metrics are not just used for accountability, they are also used to show where we need to adjust the plan. People (knowledge and skills) play more of a role than ever before in developing and executing a strategy - which makes metrics more important than ever.
Metrics matter when they propel you toward your goals. Without metrics your strategic plan cannot be realized. There are hundreds of different numbers to pay attention to for any given strategy. But none of them will matter unless they relate directly to your business objectives. Start with your goals first. Next, develop your strategy. Then track the execution of your tactics as they relate back to your goals.
When the Missoula Economic Partnership was created in 2010, a five-year plan was developed based on these principles. The MEP had four primary goals for the plan, the creation of 2,500 new primary jobs paying an average wage of $37,000 annually, $150 million in new capital investment, 25 companies started and 25 companies attracted. Recently, at the MEP annual meeting, Tom DiFiore of National Community Development Services presented the first benchmarking report – detailing the metrics from July 1, 2011 through June 20, 2014.
The MEP assisted 94 companies that created 906 new jobs and over $120 million in new investments. In addition over MEP has worked with over 70 new start-ups and help attract eight new companies to our communities. While we are pleased with the success, there is much work remaining to meet our five-year goals, and having our own metrics will guide us moving forward.
Metrics, when used properly, will help you improve a process as it relates to your business goals. Just make sure you’re measuring the right numbers with your specific objectives in mind.
James Grunke is the president and CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership.