When Metrics Mean Nothing – The Myth of the “Percent Gain”

I am a proponent of using metrics to measure results. My team and I encourage our partners to “manage by data, not by emotional response to change” every day. But sometimes a metric used gives a partial or even inaccurate picture of what’s happening.

An example of this is the use of the “percent of productivity gained” in transitioning from typing to editing.

I don’t object to monitoring the change in productivity – after all, isn’t that the point? And my objection is not that “percent gained” is used.

My objection is that “percent gained” is used as the driver for everything from measuring success to planning compensation. This is only one of many metrics that should be used – and it is not the most important one!

MTSOs must measure OUTPUT. “Percent gain” in many situations is NOT an indicator of output.

If your goal is a high percent gain I’ll tell you how to get your numbers. Keep your high-producing traditional MTs out of speech recognition.

You’ll see “percent gain” figures that would make any speech rec marketing person jump for joy. And what we all want is to make our speech rec vendor’s marketing materials look great, right? I hope so.


Consider the following:

• You, the MTSO, are not paid by percent of productivity gained. You are paid for output – in lines, reports, VBCs, or minutes of audio – whatever. You’re paid for what you deliver to them.
• Increased output leads to organization cost efficiencies.
• Hospitals decrease costs by increasing output produced at a lower human resource cost. They sometimes reduce the work outsourced to YOU because they increase the OUTPUT of their existing in-house MTs!
• Don’t hospitals using speech in-house measure “percent gained”? Yes – but more tightly controlled in-house MTs tend to be employees – not “hobby MTs”. Everything from work assignment to scheduling is more controlled. The “percent gain” has a more direct correlation to output because there are fewer variables.
• “Percent gained” for an MTSO often does not have a direct correlation to production because:
o Variable schedules mean variable output.
o A high percent gain for an unsupervised MT with poor work habits still will not result in high output.
o The least productive MTs are those who see the largest percent gains, but the high producing MT with the low percent gain still creates the highest output.

In the figure below, let’s assume 150 lph is the average productivity for MTs typing for an MTSO:

• MTE 1 has seen a 125% productivity gain, and is producing the work equivalent to 1.5 traditional transcriptionists.
• MTE 2 produces the work of THREE average transcriptionists though she has only seen a 50% gain in productivity – because she was a highly productive typist.

And yet time after time, MTSO managers will be excited over MTE 1, and will ask what’s wrong with MTE 2 because they only look at the “percent gain.”

Over the course of a full-time year, MTE 2 with her 50% gain will produce >450,000 more lines than MTE 1 with her 125% gain!

Consider the costs associated with the number of MTs supported by your organization, including:
1. Supervisors and managers
2. Technical support staff
3. Trainers and training programs
4. QA personnel and QA’d lines
5. HR, payroll, and other administrative staff
6. Upper level management and supporting staff
7. Physical facilities, office space, furniture, equipment for all the managers, administrative and technical staff
8. Technology, software licenses, internet and telephone service
9. Paid time off and health and welfare benefits
10. Worker’s compensation and taxes

How much will your MTSO pay to support turnover as the highly-productive MT leaves and must be replaced by a higher number of less productive, less reliable MTs?

Hasn’t efficiency gained through productivity by the fewest required workers long been a must-have for any industry’s economic growth? Why is transcription any different?

This might sound as though I’m proposing that we WANT MTs to lose jobs through increased output. I’m not. Remember that “hobby MT”?

Imagine if we can gain enough financial benefit through efficient use of technology – meaning that we adopt efficient business practices to optimize the benefits – to pay the dedicated Career MT a better wage because we’ve decreased costs associated with supporting a high number of unproductive “hobby MTs”!

The MTSO that uses speech recognition technology to become lean enterprise-wide instead of LOOKING ONLY TO THE MT for the financial efficiency will be the one to exist into the future.

Next – We debunk the myth that compensation for MTs who transition from typing to editing must be driven by the “percent gain”….stay tuned.

‘Til next time,

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