It is important to measure collaboration as a means to understand capabilities and document success.  There are two types of indicators to measure the success of your collaboration; financial and service levels.  In the past I discussed the importance and methods for measuring financial success.  In this discussion I will cover the service level measurements.  The service level measurements are the lifeblood of your collaborative partnership, these measurements provide the basis to measure the heartbeat of both your partnerships and your performance, both inward looking and outward looking.  As an added benefit, the service level measurements provide the framework for your collaborative partnerships continuous improvement program.

Your performance service levels must be carefully defined and regularly reviewed to ensure they provide value.  The challenge with performance service levels is that your performance indicators have a tendency to change and even if they don’t change, they require regular adjustments and revisions to incorporate your general performance improvements.  Your continued performance improvements are a base assumption of my because, after all, if your performance does not improve then you have other issues you must address.  Performance service levels can be difficult to define in your collaborative partnership because they must be meaningful across the partnerships.  This is a similar type of discussion as performance tuning your extended supply chain.  Sometimes a performance service level that is meaningful and helpful for one partner is not necessarily meaningful or helpful for another.  The point and key objective is to define the performance service levels that are meaningful to the entire collaborative partnership, for instance, response time of the individual activities performed by each partner is a great performance service level but don’t forget that the key service level is the response time of the entire extended collaborative partnership and this performance must also be measured.

Performance service levels should include two types or services or performance indicators; internal performance indicators that measure your organization’s performance and then the group performance indicators.  All of these performance indicators are related and they also all support each other.  These relationships between the internal and external relationships create a web of dependencies that will both drive improvements and also echo failures.  This web of dependencies will also clearly identify the importance of the partnership and encourage the continuous improvements across the partnerships that will also encourage the strengthening of the partnerships. 

The performance service level review is the final and perhaps the most critical aspect of these measurements.  Again, the review must be performed from two aspects, internal review of your own organization’s performance and then the group review that includes all of your collaborative partners.  The value proposition of this review process depends on open and honest communications regarding the performance of both the individual partners and also the entire partnership as a whole.  I’m not suggesting any earth shattering changes to support and encourage the development of your collaborative partnerships, I am, however, suggesting a method for you to incorporate the tools that have always been successful into the framework of your collaborative partnerships.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

What are your communications practices with internal and external customers?  Are these practices the same for internal and external customers?