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Originally posted at http://www.howtomeasureanything.com, on Monday, December 08, 2008 10:08:08 PM, by Unknown.

“I’m trying to quickly identify the items I need to spend time measuring. In your book, you determine what to measure by computing the value of information. You refer to a macro that you run on your spreadsheet that automatically computes the value of information and thus permits you to identify those items most worth spending extra time to refine their measurements. Once I list potential things that I might want to measure, do I estimate, using my Calibrated Estimators, a range for the chance of being wrong and the cost of being wrong and using something like @RISK, multiply these two lists of probability distributions together to arrive at a list of distributions for all the things I might want to measure? Then, do I look over this list of values of information and select the few that have significantly higher values of information?

I don’t want you to reveal your proprietary macro, but am I on the right track to determining what the value of information is?”

You were on track right up to the sentence that starts Once I list potential things that I might want to measure. You already have calibrated estimates by that point. Remember, you have to have calibrated estimates first before you even can compute the value of information. Once the value of information indicates that you need to measure something, then its time to get new observations. As I mention in the book, you could also use calibrated estimates for this second round, but only if you are giving them new information that will allow them to reduce their uncertainty.

So, first you have your original calibrated estimates, THEN you compute the value of information, THEN you measure the things that matter. In addition to using calibrated estimators again (assuming you are finding new data to give them to reduce their ranges) I mention several methods in the book including decomposition, sampling methods, controlled experiments, and several other items. It just depends on what you need to measure.

Also, the chance of being wrong and the cost of being wrong can already be computed from the original calibrated estimates you provided and the business case you put them in. You do not have to estimate them separately in addition to the original calibrated estimates themselves. Look at the examples I gave in the chapter on the value of information.

My macros make it more convenient to more complicated information values, but they are not necessary for the simplest examples. Did you see how I computed the information values in that chapter? I already had calibrated estimates on the measurements themselves. Try a particular example and ask me about that example specifically if you are still having problems.

Thanks for your use of my book and please stay in touch.

Doug Hubbard