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Helping teams identify their key metrics

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Ryan Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst, DWP
Ryan Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst, DWP

I’m Ryan Thomas Hewitt, Lead Business Analyst in DWP Digital.

Melanie Cannon, Lead Content Designer, recently wrote about how we’re helping teams define their focus. One of the things we look to define is the long term goals, or a mission statement for the products and services we’re working on.

In this blog I’ll discuss how to identify key metrics from a mission statement.

Doing this allows teams to:

  • measure progress towards achieving their mission, or long term goals
  • prioritise work, by understanding which areas to focus on
  • focus on metrics that matter
  • work towards points 15 and 16 of the Digital Service Standard (which cover collecting performance data and identifying performance indicators)

Start with the mission

A mission statement is a broad, aspirational statement about the long-term goal of the service.

This is an example from Apply for an Access to Work Grant:

Be the simplest, fastest way for people with a disability or health condition to get the practical help and support they need to stay in work and live independently.

How to align metrics

Most mission statements contain a number of keywords, like ‘simplest’, ‘fastest’, ‘best’ and ‘cost-effective’. We can use these words to identify key metrics.

This is how we might run through this in a team workshop:

  1. We put the mission statement on a wall. The team then highlight any keywords.
  2. We discuss how to make each keyword measurable.

A keyword like ‘fastest’ can be measurable in different ways. For example, ‘fastest’ could mean:

  • the time it takes to complete an application
  • the time it takes to get a decision
  • the time it takes to load the application form

And for a service to be the ‘fastest’ we need to compare it to alternatives. Is 2 minutes fast enough, or 5 minutes, or 30 minutes? What will make it the fastest?

  1. We turn each keyword into a metric. We do this by identifying:
  • the ‘key performance indicators’ (KPIs) - the things we decide are the most important to measure, from all the options (for example, by ‘fastest’ we mean the time it takes for a user to get a decision)
  • the ‘benchmark’ - based on industry standards, user research, product ambition and existing services, we need to set a target (for example, we want to users to receive a decision within a day)
  • how we’ll measure it - we might use Google Analytics,  a survey or some further user research

Let’s take the following example from one of our support services:

Always provide the simplest, fastest, most cost-effective technology support.

The keywords here are 'simplest', 'fastest' and 'most cost-effective'.

We might identify and capture something like this picture:

Show each keyword against key performance indicators, the benchmark and the measures

We then need to work out how to make each keyword measurable, decide which the most important ones are and work out how to track them.

For example, ‘simplest’ might mean we aim to achieve a user satisfaction rate of 90% or that the average number of transactions can be completed in three clicks. User satisfaction might be tracked using a survey within the product, or sent out to users, while number of clicks could be tracked using Google Analytics.

'Fastest' might mean it takes a day to resolve a support request, which could be measured using information from the technology support team.

'Most cost-effective' might look to benchmark the cost of individual transaction. This could be measured by dividing the total cost of the service by the number of transactions.

The exercise may lead to the mission statement being reworked. The discussions the team has may raise assumptions that we hadn’t considered before.


Mission statements are a great way to identify the key metrics for project success. Having key metrics directly aligned to the mission statement focuses a team. It means the team has clear targets and knows what success looks like.

Typically a team will have three or four key metrics. This doesn’t mean other metrics will be ignored. And of course key metrics can change based on feedback.

Metrics and mission statements complement each other. Missions give us a meaningful direction, metrics provide a measure of progress.

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