Maximize Advisory Team Time with Efficient Data Use
Posted: February 24, 2012
It does not take long to see the list of metrics to monitor and discuss grow and grow, especially for teams that have functioned for a few years or shifted gears. I’ve seen it with some of the teams I facilitated over the years. Pretty soon, you are spending a good portion of team meeting time to review and discuss these metrics, and not enough time to address the current issues at hand. Here are a few questions to consider when maximizing the time available to the advisory team while keeping key data and information involved with the process.
What are the goals and objectives of the
This is a good place to start. What are the current goals and objectives the team has identified? With this list, teams can then identify what metrics would be best to monitor to track goal and objective performance. Successful teams will have a continual cycle of defining needs, setting goals, tracking progress, achieving/maintaining goals, and evaluating success and evaluation. As such, the metrics monitored should change to address the changes in goals for the team.
Why are we looking at this
If there is not a quick answer to that question, then it may be a metric to be retired from future team discussions. This question relates back to the previous topic of goals and objectives. There needs to be a relevance to monitoring a metric, typically in relation to tracking progress or monitoring a previous goals achievement. If the metric is only useful to one member of the team and doesn’t relate to past or current goals and objectives, it may need to be sidelined from routine discussion within the team.
How are various metrics being
Consolidation can be a key component to limiting discussion time on metrics. Think about all the various sources of data available to the average dairy: milk production, components, and quality from the cooperative, test day records, financials, etc. All of these potential sources can provide insight into a goal, but may require several reports and sources to capture all the metrics of interest to the team. Try using a spreadsheet (such as the Penn State Extension Dairy Team’s Monthly Monitor) to report several metrics in one report. By consolidating them down into one report, it will simplify not only going over the metrics, but teams will also be able to see some of the historical trends of the numbers as well.
Being creative in data tracking can also gain you some reduction in time spent on data. With a little computer skill, providing graphical representation of the metrics can improve and enhance interpretation of the metrics, thus reducing the time spent reviewing and discussing them. Just be sure whatever graph you apply actually fits the data being tracked, so keep it simple.
When are metrics being shared with the
Having some preparation time individually can definitely increase the efficiency of data use by any team. I’ve found that if the metrics (such as test day records and production information) are summarized and provided to team members ahead of time to review, then the discussion during the actual team member can be spent on other areas. Another benefit to providing the summary prior to the actual meeting is the ability for members to digest the data and formulate questions, so they are prepared for quality discussion at the time of the meeting. With the data out ahead of time, a good team routine can be established. The discussion on monitored metrics may first on the agenda with a time limit (typically 5-10 minutes), thus freeing up team time for the other agenda items. Don’t forget, just because they are reviewed in the beginning, doesn’t mean you can revisit them if they apply to specific agenda discussions later in the meeting.
The metrics used by an advisory team play a vital role in tracking and monitoring the progress related to identified goals and performance of the individual operation. With all the data currently available to a dairy operation, it is easy to reach data overload, and potentially hinder constructive discussions during limited time of team meetings. By asking yourself the above questions, and making some minor revisions to your metrics, that valuable discussion time continue to thrive in your team meetings.
-By Robert Goodling, Extension associate, Penn State Department of Dairy and Animal Science