Knowing Your Numbers-How To Measure Your Success

Numbers image

Do You Know Your Numbers?

Know your numbers to measure your success.

We all need to know our numbers, but do you know what numbers are important for your success? The metrics and benchmarks to accurately measure our success, or failure, is something we all need to understand.

This is true in any professional land surveyor business, whether you are an owner, manager, or you're an employee working on the front lines. Knowing your numbers is also important in your personal life, too.

Whatever it is you're trying to succeed at, you need to measure some aspect of that goal to track your progress, determine what is working, what is not working, and to know when you've fully accomplished what you set out to do.

If you don't measure it, then you can't find solutions and fix problems-it's that simple.

So, what numbers do you track?

As a professional land surveyor business owner you probably, at least, track several financial and business oriented numbers, including project related metrics. Because of the accounting systems you have in place, this is one area where you are lucky to have regular updating, formalized systems, and accurate data. The reality is, however, that you almost have too much information at your disposal. Project management is a whole other beast. I've found that when it comes to measuring projects it's a little more difficult. Unlike your financial data, project data can be difficult to collect, organize, and is often not objective.

As a manager, like I said above, the collection, organizing and reliability of project data is challenging. If your company has disparate project types, is lacking in functional standardized systems and relies heavily on anecdotal tracking, then you know full well that you're really not managing as much as reacting. You also know, that even if measuring the "hardest" of numbers, you need to be diligent that true numbers are being reported.

Working on the front lines as an employee and having to report your progress is stressful for some. Too often, you're either not given any guidelines to succeed or unrealistic standards to obtain. Some of you will rail against living your life by the numbers, saying that it's not fair, or that it's impossible to "hit" those numbers every day. You may be right on both counts, but, in order for you and your company to be successful there has to be some base metrics, or the entire ship will soon be grounded.

Here are a few ideas that come to mind on what to track:

  • Cash.
  • Cash flow.
  • Deposits and new projects.
  • Accounts Receivables.
  • Accounts Payables.
  • Profit/Loss.
  • Projects percent complete.
  • Projects completed.
  • Research (related to hours, parcels, or some other meaningful metric to you).
  • Reconnaissance (tough one, it takes a long time not to find something, or to find something, sometimes).
  • Cutting line/traverse setup (feet per hour, or day).
  • Traverse and location (traverses turned per day, lineal feet, total locations?).
  • Topography (total number of locations, area per day, lineal footage on strip topo's).
  • Survey Field data downloading, editing, adjusting, and input.
  • Boundary resolution.
  • Surface creation/mapping.
  • CAD Drafting (I know, this is broad, so you'll need to break down your own CAD processes).

The list could go on and on. This is just to give you a few ideas on numbers you could be tracking.

How to track your numbers?

I'll go over this quickly here, as I'll be posting more on this specifically in future posts. But, to simplify it I've boiled it down to these six key concepts:

  1. Understand your process to make them "Your " numbers.
  2. Make sure that your numbers correspond to, and drive you towards, obtaining your goals (that's the most important reason they need to be "your" numbers).
  3. Don't track everything, or if you do, narrow down what is reported to you, and what you will regularly analyze, to only a half dozen to a dozen, at most, important items.
  4. Your numbers, to be useful, must be related to some other important variable, like: per hour, per day, per month, per foot, per acreage, etc.).
  5. You must regularly and faithfully collect your numbers; it must become a built-in process.
  6. You must regularly analyze your collected data to measure your success. If you're not meeting your numbers, then you need an immediate corrective action plan. Or, reevaluate your numbers to better reflect reality (at least today's reality-with changes your numbers may actually be valid).

I hope this gets you thinking about your numbers and how implementing metrics can be your road map to success. Do expect more on this subject, so check back often. I'll also be expanding on these subjects in more detail in Premium Membership posts, too.

In closing, please leave a comment as I'd love to hear about your numbers.

Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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