Everyone who has lived within the world of analytics has seen cases where different parts of a business have made use of slightly differing definitions of core business metrics. Sometimes these differences lead to only minor and non-material disagreement. At other times, the differences in definition can cause massive divergence of reported results and related actions taken. Organizations must ensure that where differences exist in definitions those differences are either reconciled or clearly labeled and articulated to provide the proper context.
It Is Just a Length of Stay, Right?
I recently came across a terrific example when a healthcare provider was discussing the seemingly simple issue of determining the length of stay that patients have at a hospital. Not only is length of stay important in and of itself, but it is also a component of other important metrics such as cost per stay.
Given its importance, one might assume that the formula for length of stay was standardized within the organization. But, when there are a number of hospitals acquired over time that still run in a largely autonomous fashion, it is easy to have different definitions creep in. Worse, each definition can be defended and there may be no true “right” answer.