February 26, 2016 / Andrew Brown

New Report Offers Framework for Measuring Stewardship Performance

The scope of product stewardship work has expanded significantly in the past two decades. Stewardship leaders are also under pressure to increase productivity or reduce costs, and are often asked by business leaders how they are improving the performance of their organizations. Yet some struggle to define appropriate metrics for their stewardship programs.

To move the discussion forward, members of the Product Stewardship & Regulatory Affairs Council at The Conference Board have recently published a report that describes a general approach for establishing a stewardship metrics program.

Rob Shimp, program director of the council, and colleagues Kathy Brewer (HP) and Jeff Conklin (Shell) will review the report with attendees at Stewardship 2016 during the session Measuring the Performance and Business Value of Product Stewardship​​. The primary audience for the session is product stewardship leadership, to help them improve the performance of their organizations and communicate the value of stewardship to business leadership.

The report outlines an overall approach to metrics program design and describes a broad menu of potential measures in two areas: core stewardship work (e.g., fulfilling the company’s key safety, environmental, and regulatory compliance obligations), and “business value” work (e.g., addressing market place issues, regulatory influencing, or strengthening corporate reputation).

The report emphasizes the importance of having both quality and quantity-focused metrics. “For example, on the core stewardship work side, one quantity-focused metric could be the number of customer inquiries for safety and regulatory information that product stewards respond to each year,” says Shimp. “A related quality-focused metric could be how satisfied are your customers with the nature of the information that you’re giving them.”

Another example would be product stewardship support for R&D. Many companies use a stage-gate process for R&D, and product stewardship’s safety and regulatory compliance work fits into that process in several different places. “The quantity of work you're doing — for example, how many initiatives did you support last year – is important,” says Shimp. ”But companies should also measure the percentage of stewardship projects that were successfully moved through a stage-gate on time and correctly.”

Shimp and his colleagues will also discuss how stewardship leaders can address some of the practical challenges to measuring stewardship performance and value. “For example, we’ll talk about how to gather and manage data, how to manage challenges such as benchmarking, and how to effectively communicate results,” he says. “The communications aspect is especially vital since it helps both product stewards and business leaders understand what the company’s stewardship organization delivers each year. This can be a very important aspect of improving future performance, maintaining resources, or advocating for more resources to meet the growing stewardship demands of the business.”​

Andrew Brown

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