SQDC for Enterprise IT – Introduction, Safety

Summary: First in a series of posts on presenting a summarized view of Corporate IT using SQDC-style KPIs - a Lean Management-inspired way of speaking in a language your Manufacturing Operations teams will understand.

After a few attempts at a recurring IT status update for the executive team at a manufacturing firm, and met with indifferent and uncomprehending stares, I tried a different approach. Borrowing ideas from the Manufacturing Operation steam, I presented a summarized view of what was happening in IT – stealing ideas from the many Daily Management boards that I had seen during my visits to the plants.

I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on the SQDC graphics that I’m using; these are the same four KPI categories used in all Daily Management meetings. Expressing IT performance using this approach has been well received, because the intent of the metrics are quickly meaningful to the operations-minded folks that I was communicating with.

Never heard of SQDC, not sure what it means? The acronym comes from the world of Lean Manufacturing, and it stands for Safety, Quality, Delivery, and Cost – four cornerstone KPIs of many manufacturing organizations. I took the classic focus for these KPI categories and applied them to the work we focus on in the IT group. It’s not a one-to-one transform, but with a little imagination and design, you can develop a better connection with the other functional areas of your business by speaking their language.


A primary focus for the manufacturing floor is safety. In our organization, we value people and their contribution to the company – one of the reasons we stress Great Global Teams as a critical high level objective. It’s also one for the most unique and recognizable metrics displays – the Safety Cross (or Safety Calendar), aptly named because it’s a calendar in the shape of a cross. We color in each day green for zero incidents, or yellow / red if there are any safety issues.

For the IT group – well, what sort of safety events are we going to track, a paper cut? Dropped a server on your foot? Safety incidents don’t happen very often for IT, so we are focusing on another critical resource – our information, and specifically the security of our Information. For Corporate IT, the Safety Cross is replaced by the Security Cross; same look-and-feel, but the topic is security incidents. Green is all clear, while Yellow means there was some sort of contained incident, and Red indicates that a serious data security breach or loss has happened.

SQDC 002

As you can see, we had a few minor incidents in January – a stolen iPad and a lost notebook computer – but February and March were quiet. Note that for the monthly report-out (above), I only showed the current month – just like in Daily Management!

In my next posts, I’ll explain the other three metrics (Quality, Delivery, and Cost) and talk a bit about what comes next.

# 11 April, 2013

This article is part of the SQDC for Enterprise IT series
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James MacLennan

... is the Managing Partner at Maker Turtle LLC, a digital consultancy focused on creating value in ways that align with your strategy and drive engagement with employees, customers, and stakeholders. He is an active creator, providing thought leadership through on-line & print publications, and public speaking / keynotes.