Feb 9 2005

Measure Everything

I’m at the Microsoft Partner Advisory Council (PAC) meeting (I’m on Microsoft’s Venture Capital PAC).  Simon Witts – the Corporate VP of the Enterprise and Partner Group – is keynoting the morning session.  It unbelievable (and extremely impressive) how much Microsoft measures about their business.  In his session, Simon has been extremely candid about positives and negatives based on what they forecasted for 1H05 (7/04 – 12/04), how they actually did, how this impacts their partner channel, the feedback loop that results, and what they are changing to perform even better.

While he was talking, I got my monthly status report from Rally.  It’s full of metrics – actual against forecast – and a discussion of the delta.  These metrics are across the entire business – it’s not just accounting, financial, or sales data – it’s information across the business.  Last night, I looked at my weekly report from StillSecure – same story – full of metrics along with discussion of what’s going on in the business.

While it’s easy to get lost in “data” rather than synthesizing and understanding “information”, I find way too many early stage companies measuring very little – thinking this is something that “only big companies both with.”  Microsoft shows how it’s completely ingrained in their culture – in my experience with them, they’ve been measuring everything forever. 

The value of building this discipline into the fabric of a startup is huge.  Automate as much as you can early in your life – turn “data” into information – and continually refine what you are measuring to make sure it’s the relevant stuff.  But measure it.