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Chapter 3: Measurement Frequently, this information will also be available within the agency's GIS. Like terrain data, roadway attribute data will need to be combined with information regarding outcomes and resource usage in order to support benchmarking. OUTPUT MEASURES The discussion so far has ignored output measures because they are not focused on what the customer gains from road maintenance. Output measures, as stated above, are used to record maintenance production--for example, the miles of pavement resurfaced per day or the number of feet of guardrail repaired. Even though output measures are not focused on the customer, you will want to add output measures to your set of outcome, resource usage, and hardship measures. There are a number of reasons to do so: A way to establish comparability. Output measures provide a means to access the scale of activity of a benchmarking unit and therefore provide a more informed basis for comparing performance. For example, one benchmarking unit may resurface only 10 miles of pavement per year, whereas another may resurface 100 miles. These benchmarking units are not really comparable. Surrogates for outcome measures. Reliable, repeatable, accurate, and reasonable-cost outcome measures may not be available in some instances. You may want to use an output variable as a proxy for an outcome variable. For example, you may not be able to estimate the degree to which damaged guardrail replacement along a stretch of highway saves lives. Instead, you may simply use the linear feet of damaged guardrail replaced as a proxy for fatalities avoided, in the rare event that a vehicle crashes into a previously damaged guardrail. Utility for productivity measurement. Even though you should remain focused on the customer, it will be important to analyze the productivity of crews and other work units. Output information is essential for analyzing productivity. You may also want to estimate production functions that predict output as a function of labor, equipment, material, and environmental factors. 76
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Linkage to outcomes. Some analysts find that the most logical way to establish a measure of certain types of outcomes is to establish a functional relationship between outputs and various types of outcomes. Under this approach, output data is essential to establishing outcomes. In preparing to benchmark, you will need to assess the role that output information will play in customer-driven benchmarking and related analysis. You will need output data and measures-- even if you are focused on outcomes. 77