We all know performance management has to be embedded throughout a business. It has to be adopted by all levels of an organisation, and be part of the daily routine. A number of people in your organisation will tell you that of course they include performance management in their daily work– but do they? Do they do it because they have to, or because it is a normal process?
The advantages are huge; not least that everyone will be working towards the same goal, providing a powerful energy across the business. Putting performance first is not new. Plato suggested “the beginning is the most important part of the work”, and remember the old adage; a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – if the key priorities in business can be determined at the start, it can assured that these are addressed before moving on. Ensuring the whole business is then dedicated to performing towards these key priorities will inevitably lead to positive change and by embedding performance in the management systems, it becomes the cornerstone for management analysis, support, and decision-making. It is also incumbent upon a business to focus and educate all employees on the rationale behind performance management. Only then can everyone be committed to it and only then can a business improve its organisational effectiveness.
To determine whether the business is performing well within its own sector, it is essential to compare with other similar businesses. Dare I use the word ‘Benchmark’? Is it still as acceptable a word as it used to be?
In our Public Sector we have had a plethora of comparative indicators to use as comparative data, from the downright quirky to the impossible to capture; ranging from over 600 to the new NI dataset of 198 – or is it 197, or 168? – Am I the only one who gets lost these days??
Don’t get me wrong, ‘Benchmarking’ is an important management tool enabling the comparison of actual data on a similar basis. But capturing the comparative data is only the beginning. There are three things to remember; can the data be captured by everyone in the same way with the same inputs to make it meaningful? Can it be captured easily as part of the daily routine? And, most importantly, make sure it is used to improve performance once it has been captured – the capturing just gets you to the starting line! The main benefit of comparison is to identify the best practices, which will lead to enhanced performance. The identification of these enables informed decisions to be made about the way the business needs to improve.
To help with the monitoring of this performance, there are many IT driven performance management systems available on the market. Having evaluated a number of these, we have chosen to use a powerful and an easy-to-customise system, marketed by Rocket Software – CorVu. In my opinion – and in the opinion of 45 other local authorities’ – it is the best on the market. CorVu provides Performance Management and Business Intelligence solutions and is a pioneer in the automation of the Balanced Scorecard. The software provides an easy way to view current performance, strategy and key business drivers of an organisation – providing the organisation with the evidence to proactively improve operating results.
Using an IT based solution to drive performance ensures that the data is captured only once, but can be used many times for different purposes. The government has an acronym for this – COUNT – Capture Once Use Many Times. CorVu uses this principle to its fullest, which is a major benefit to any organisation and why we are in a partnership with them.