What are Not-So-Obvious Metrics?

For an operations executive, metrics are an invaluable resource, and for good reason. In a logistics oriented environment, like a warehouse or assembly line, the ability to break down activities into quantifiable metrics lends clarity and helps to make effective decisions. Output rates, labor costs, and profit are some of the obvious metrics every manager should keep their eyes on, but there is a second tier of metric worth noting that often goes overlooked.

In a compressive investigation into warehouse automation conducted by Accenture, the authors briefly make reference to the concept of “not-so-obvious” metrics. These are the effects which occur further downstream than the immediate effects of a particular action. Think of them as a kind of positive externality of automation. The soft wins that can’t be easily catalogued or tracked with hard numbers, but which nonetheless have tremendous benefit for your organization.

The two areas where this matters most for organizations is customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.

Improved speed and efficiencies within the warehouse translate into increased satisfaction for the end-customer. Aside from the obvious benefit of receiving their goods faster, the reduced margin of error cultivates more trust and loyalty. Even things like right-sizing packages, which mechanical automation excels at, has a positive influence on modern, sustainability-minded consumers.

A counterintuitive finding from the same research found that a whopping 42% of warehouse employees found that automation improved their job satisfaction in several areas. The largest improvement was the increased safety offered by automation and the how workers were required to put less strain on their bodies preforming routine and strenuous tasks. But workers were also pleased with the ability to preform their jobs with greater efficiency and less errors.

Another “not-so-obvious” benefit of automation comes from the ability of warehouse managers to cut back on seasonal and cyclical hiring patterns, which frees up capital to invest into more training and upskilling for existing employees, which in turn leads to higher employee job satisfaction and retention rates.

Ultimately, hard metrics like those mentioned above, will continue to take precedence when it comes to deciding how to allocate resources within an organization, but every now and again its worthwhile for managers and executives to step back and take a look at the larger impacts of certain decisions.

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