Quick: Is your inventory of supporting and trailing documents declining or increasing? How many of those paper and electronic files are eligible for destruction? And what's up with your metadata?
If you can't answer these questions quickly, that's okay: A solid set of key performance indicators (KPIs) can provide the answers for you. In addition to helping you run a tighter retention and disposition program, KPIs can make a positive case for your department's contributions to the business.
To reap these benefits, you need to be sure your KPIs are measuring what matters. A metric only becomes a KPI when it's calibrated to provide a deeper understanding of a set of data points. In addition, a KPI that is unique to a given line of business, such as mortgage applications for banks or claims for insurers, can be particularly helpful to drive behavior. You may have had a 20 percent increase in the number of loan documents scanned in the last year, but that number doesn't tell you much if you don't know how it compares with the previous five years or whether the industry average is still 10 percent higher.
Some historians consider the Venetians' 15th-century effort to track the success of sailing expeditions to be one of the first KPIs.
Developing these indicators can be difficult. But the payoff in terms of knowledge and information can be the difference between knowing what's happening and finding it hard to explain what happened.
Moving From Numbers to Knowledge
A well-crafted KPI will do more than tell you the current state of your storage volume because it includes background data and is tied to performance goals. If you've already entrusted your loan documents to an outside partner for scanning and classification, you should be able to access the historical data quite readily.
The goals, however, will need to be developed internally so they suit your organization's specific needs. While it's good for you to know the shift in how many cartons of paper you're storing or bytes of information you're saving, the interpretation of the number's rise or fall will be based on what your organization is hoping to achieve. Depending on the goal, a 5 percent drop in physical storage could be an indication of solid progress or a warning sign that the goal hasn't been met.
The same principle holds for document disposition indicators. Being able to compare how many outdated documents you destroyed over the last 12 months with previous years will give you an understanding of future trends, but only if you have a well-defined performance target for your KPIs. A savvy partner that understands the results you're seeking can help you achieve your aim and ensure your regular shredding schedule is based on more than a hunch.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are widely used in the insurance industry to measure the health of important business processes. Insurance companies regularly use their KPI measurements to benchmark themselves against competitors and identify best practices in other segments of the financial services industry.
Given the siloed nature of many organizations, you'll probably need to ask for assistance from other business units and all related vendors. KPIs often depend on data that can only be accessed with the cooperation of all stakeholders. If you need to gain an aerial view of your archives, find out if your partner offers an information map solution that will give you a better understanding of your current holdings.
Putting Indicators Into Practice
Of course, there's more to KPIs than their development. Once you've confirmed what you're going to measure and started gathering information, you'll need to make use of the data you've acquired. For example, your indicators may reveal that 100,000 documents have mislabeled destruction data. In this scenario, your KPI would track your efforts to reduce the percentage of mislabeled files against the performance goal you've established.
If you want to convince senior management that additional resources are needed for conversion, evidence of improved performance against a KPI and its goals is a persuasive statistic to have on hand.
You'll want to review your KPIs regularly to ensure they're providing you with an accurate performance profile. Maintaining your indicators will provide the vital intelligence you need to keep your RIM practices in line.
The greatest benefit of a KPI, however, is its ability to provide you with some clarity about your operations. From apps that keep track of our steps on our smartphones to instant tracking of every business activity, we are all awash in what seem to be never-ending streams of data. Instead of letting this information deluge overwhelm you, KPIs offer a tool to help you navigate the sometimes-choppy waters of records management.