You Can’t Improve Product Stewardship Until You Measure It

If you struggle to measure the performance of your product stewardship program, read “Measuring the Performance and Business Value of Product Stewardship,” a report on best practices from the Product Stewardship & Regulatory Affairs Council at The Conference Board.

The entire report is reprinted in Realizing the Full Business Value of Product Stewardship, a book recently published by the Product Stewardship Society. “The report summarizes what we believe to be a best practices approach,” says Rob Shimp, program director of the council. “It focuses on how to establish a program that measures an organization’s productivity and value.”

Discussions about metrics are driven by the desire to demonstrate and improve performance. For product stewardship leaders and business executives, the goal is to quantify how product stewardship protects and builds the company’s business, as the function fulfills its responsibilities for product safety and regulatory compliance. “Basically, you are looking at the business and asking what activities provide the greatest value with respect to what product stewardship delivers, and how can we measure those activities in ways that help us assess and improve performance,” says Shimp.

Just as no two businesses are alike, no stewardship metrics programs will use the same exact metrics. However, there are some common elements that cut across product stewardship programs. The paper describes a process and framework for selecting key metrics in three major areas: (1) Input metrics related to the size of the business and PS resources; (2) Performance metrics related to the quantity and quality of PS work; and (3) Business development metrics that describe how PS helps protect and build the company’s business. “You can use this framework to put together dashboards as a way of communicating with business leaders about how stewardship delivers its work, and provides value to the business,” says Shimp.

Some metrics are easily quantified and tracked, such as the number of regulatory filings that the stewardship team makes, or the quality of those filings (for example, how often are filings approved as expected, or are returned by regulators with questions). Other activities can be more difficult to quantify, such as the business value of participation in trade associations or regulatory advocacy. “It’s really important to consider both the tangible work that product stewards do and the intangible contributions that they make to the business,” says Shimp. “The challenge for stewardship leaders is to show how being externally engaged in emerging scientific and policy issues contributes to the company’s bottom line, relative to the consequences of not being engaged.”


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