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When statistics don't lie

Everyone has heard the pithy saying, "Lies, damn lies, and statistics", and I for one tend to take any reference to a statistic with a grain of salt.

There are some stats, however, that you may want to consider important. "Average Days to Complete Jobs" is probably one of them. 

Average Days to Complete Jobs is one of those bland stats that looks fairly innocuous, and is often over-looked as being unimportant. Representing the average of the difference between Job Due date and Job Completed date, Average Days to Complete Jobs is a hidden gold mine of business performance. Why? The lower the number, the more jobs you can perform in a given period; and we all know that the more jobs completed, the better the cash flow.

This stat tells you a number of things. It tells you how many jobs you are likely to be able to process within any given period. It tells you how much time it's likely to take to reduce your backlog to an acceptable level. When compared with previous periods it tells you if your job through-put is increasing or decreasing.

When linked against a particular worker, it gives you an idea of his efficiency. Is he covering his wages cost? What's the margin (if any) that he is contributing to your bottom line?

Things get interesting when you compare it with other stats. For example, when compared against overtime hours and costs, you may discover you are paying to much in overtime rates, and it's cheaper to put on another workman; or it may indicate that you are better off squeezing a few more jobs per week out of your current workers and paying the overtime rather than keeping that slow-performing new guy.

If your 
Average Days to Complete Jobs is increasing this may indicate scheduling conflicts, stock unavailability, or simple mis-communication. While there are not usually simple resolutions for any of these three issues, at least you now have somewhere to look to explain the unwanted increase.

At the very minimum, you should take a look at your 
Average Days to Complete figure every month so you can understand how the events of each past month have affected your ability to complete jobs. Do you fall foul of a wet season? Is there some regular operational event that adversely affects the ability of your service guys to get to, or complete, jobs? Knowing that a contrary event is coming means you can make plans so any adverse affects are minimized.

When you look and act prepared, people will take notice, and your word will carry more weight, and that can only be a good thing, right? So, don't ignore the "boring" stats; they may be your friend.

Posted by Mark Chimes
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