August 10, 2010 | Mark Paradies

How Do You Measure Backlog

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Almost everyone would agree that backlogs of incident investigations and corrective actions are BAD. Imagine if you have another accident while you are waiting for a corrective action to be completed.

Therefore a measurement of the backlog could be used as a performance measure.

But how do you measure “backlog”?

Let’s start with incident investigation backlog.

First, one measure is the oldest outstanding root cause analysis. But one hard investigation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad program.

Therefore, second, people tend to measure the average time to complete an investigation. This could be measured using a twelve month rolling average.

But an average time doesn’t say much about the total number of investigations outstanding. So some use the total number of investigation not completed as a program measure.

One additional idea is to measure the total number of investigations overdue (beyond some standard for completion (i.e., 30 days or 90 days).

Who knew measuring backlog could be so hard?

Corrective action (improvement) backlog is very similar … Longest outstanding item, average time to complete an item, total number of outstanding items, and total number overdue.

Actually, measuring all of these is a good idea. And trending them using advanced trending techniques is a great idea! (Training on advanced trending techniques is available prior to the Summit in October.)

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