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Follow Three Best Practices to Succeed at Business Activity Monitoring

BAM can monitor crucial key performance indicators around time, cost, quality, and productivity, but many firms struggle when deploying the technology. Three best practices will jump start your project and help you choose the right metrics and alert levels.
BEST PRACTICES 3: Choose The Right Metrics And Level Of Alerts

BAM projects hinge on choosing the correct metrics and level of alerts. To ensure that the alerts provide the appropriate information at the right level of detail, BAM project owners should:

Work with stakeholders to transform business objectives into dashboards. The business owner or business analyst on the BAM project usually establishes the initial business objectives. During the project, these business objectives are translated in lower-level KPIs that support operational and middle management participation. Understanding how stakeholders work and how they translate high-level objectives into low-level KPIs is a cornerstone of a BAM project.

Refer to initial objectives rather than KPIs. As the project progresses and the business users learn BAM platform capabilities, they sometimes forget the initial objectives. Constantly revisit the high-level objectives and verify that the corresponding dashboards really support these objectives.

Choose a representation that simplifies interpretation and guides action. One classic mistake is to track each defect rather than the percentage of defects. Tracking absolute numbers can force users to make internal calculations to obtain the level of information they need. It also leads them to ponder whether they should do something to address each defect or if the defects they're seeing fall within the defect tolerance. Analyze your representation choices and try to avoid values prone to multiple interpretations. Sometimes this will require several trials.

Deploy to users gradually. Quality testing with a limited set of users is a key to BAM project success. Pay attention to user feedback to understand if an indicator, its representation, its position and the other related information provide adequate context and are meaningful to all types of users. This process often leads to important iterative adjustments.

Pitfalls include failing to measure what's important to operational staff and failing to avoid alert storms during initial deployments. When some users discover the power of BAM, they want more and more alerts, worrying that they'll miss something. Others multiply the volume of alerts because they think they will control more if they know more. Keep alerts to a manageable level so users and managers don't fall prey to alert fatigue. The idea is to spot the important exception conditions so your people can react and take action to correct or avoid performance problems.

Henry Peyret is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, where he serves enterprise architects. For free research and a diagnostic tool to assess your organization's BAM capabilities, visit www.forrester.com/iebam.