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Measuring What’s Important

By Kathy Marshall, Director of Quality
And Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Dog euphoria

Quality, Excellence, Passion . . . You Can Have It All
Part 3 of 4

Where quality is concerned, my goal is to have our clients experience the same euphoria about their Decision Toolbox (DT) experience that a dog feels when it sticks its head out of the car window. But how do you measure euphoria? In the first two parts of this blog series, I wrote about the challenges of defining (Part 1) and implementing (Part 2) quality in the service industry. In the next two parts I’d like to share some thoughts about measuring quality and, wouldn’t you know it, that too is like trying to nail Jello to the wall — in fact, even more so.

At DT we’ve learned that each client defines quality differently, and that means the specifics of implementation vary from client to client. Measuring, then, is different, too. Here in Part 3, I’ll explore what to measure and in Part 4, I’ll write about how to measure it.

Kathy's dog, Ranger

My dog Ranger – Oh the euphoria!

Big Pic or Nitty Gritty?

For the 2013 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, Bullhorn (a recruitment software provider) surveyed senior leaders of staffing firms (primarily in the contingency space) to rank the most important metrics their firms use to measure success. Almost 40% said it was “total number of placements,” which is not surprising considering they get paid per placement. Next came “fill rate,” at 29%, while “time-to-fill” came in lowest among the six metrics at 4.1%.

Since DT’s model is NOT contingency, most important to us is fill rate (what percentage of projects result in a hire) and time-to-hire (how long did it take to fill the position). We want to help our clients fill lots of positions quickly. But these kinds of overall metrics — performance to goals — are just part of the picture.

If you are running a marathon and you finish in the top 10% of the field, then you probably met your goal. I know I would be impressed! But if your shoes pinched you the whole way, you cramped up at mile 11 and you were seriously dehydrated at the end, then something still isn’t quite right, even though you did meet your overall goal.

Use Milestones to Mitigate

Performance metrics certainly are important, but we also need to identify the details that “bubble up” to create overall metrics. Does the client feel he / she is seeing too many candidates? Not enough? Is the search moving fast enough? In essence, are we meeting each client’s expectations regarding process and service during the search?

We strive to recognize the milestones that are important to each client, and then apply a Six Sigma approach to anticipate where we might fall short, so we can then mitigate those shortfalls. Course correcting is an ongoing process, and that process relies on feedback from the hiring manager (HM). If you follow DT’s blogs, you may think we’re obsessed with the importance of regular, open communication with hiring managers (HM). You’re right — we are.

We ask HMs to let us know: are these the right milestones? Are we hitting them? What should we be doing that we’re not? Let’s switch analogies from a marathon to a three-legged race: if we’re connected at the hip and we’ve got the rhythm down, quality is virtually assured.

Measure for the Future

While I’m emphasizing the importance of measuring / monitoring quality during an engagement, it also has a long-term payoff.  Course correcting extends beyond the single search at hand. As I wrote in Part 1, we can hit the overall goal of finding the candidate who is hired and yet still lose the client because we missed a couple of quality milestones. The better we refine our milestones and measures — the stronger the hip attachment — the more likely the client will be back, and the more likely our next search with this client will run more smoothly.

Well, as much as I would like to give you a single, simple answer about what to measure, it doesn’t work that way. In the service industry it’s not as simple as checking that the widget is within a tolerance range of 0.005 millimeters. But if you understand what is important to the client, identify the milestones, monitor progress to them, and get regular feedback from the client, you may find yourself saying, “Move over, Rover — I want to stick my head out, too!”

Coming in Part 4: how to measure the un-measurable.

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2 Responses to “Measuring What’s Important”

  1. May 22, 2014 at 10:22 am, Measuring the Un-Measurable | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] tools are important. I wrote about DT’s Quality Self Service tool in Part 3, which monitors trigger metrics like candidate flow, match of skills to requirements, etc. This […]


  2. May 28, 2014 at 7:29 am, To Make Quality Happen, Make Passion Happen - DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Part 3 I’ll discuss measuring quality — know where I can get a […]


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