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Originally published 20 April 2009
“If only I had invested in a performance management tool before this crisis hit! That way I could have used it now. I’ll wait out the crisis and then invest in a tool right away!” This is something I hear a lot in the marketplace in these troubling economic times. Of course, everybody wishes they had a better performance management tool when they need to tighten their belts. We all want to make our changes tangible and our savings appear as real money in our bank accounts. The only way to do this is by measuring.
“It’s too late now, I need it today!” Even if you have no performance management in place at this time, you can invest in small, easy to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) like revenue and cost monitoring. These are straightforward, easy to measure and provide you with a “ground zero” basis for expanding to an integrated performance management solution down the road. Of course, you may miss some historical insight, but having some – even incomplete – information to base your conclusions on is better than nothing at all.
The old adage “Think Big, Act Small” is more relevant than ever in the area of performance management. Pick a few well-defined KPIs and start to watch them. See how the actions you take as a result of monitoring your business can implement change and you have a basis to which you can add more KPIs. Once you have controlled the costs and are monitoring the results closely, it may be smart to move your vision over to the sales pipeline.
Every moment of crisis is a moment of opportunity. One of the more common problems faced in the past when we were implementing performance management solutions was the lack of interaction from the business due to their busy schedules. It took lots of time and effort to get all the right players in a room together to agree on definitions and formulas for KPIs. Often intervention from high-level corporate sponsors was needed to achieve this goal. Now, the slackening economy is causing a slowdown in activity for most companies. This may be the moment to catch up on all that “low-priority” work we had been ignoring for years.
This is also a great chance to finally sit together and hammer out those KPIs, to discuss what it would take to really implement a great management dashboard, what reports are redundant and which are missing. What better time than now to really come up with a common strategic plan for the future, especially if your company is hurting a bit.
“If only I knew how many … ?” Such questions are being asked at companies in the heart of this storm. Track the questions people are asking, write them down and make them tangible so you don’t forget them. Humans have a tendency to forget the bad experiences and only remember the good ones. Use the pain you are feeling now to agree on what is really important for your company and not just what is nice to know or what looks good on a dashboard.
A walk in the desert can give you a different perspective on things. When all was still good and plentiful, you may have been tempted to measure how big your bonus would be. Now you see it would be better to monitor more mundane KPIs to keep your ship (or camels) on the right track. Once this exercise is done, you have a much better grounding to select a business intelligence or performance management tool and to give better specifications to your implementation partner or IT departments.
Even if you don’t want to invest in performance management now, try and make use of the unique set of circumstances you are in currently to come out of this economic dip ahead of your competition with the ability to handle the business coming your way.
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