Performance Management

Many years ago I was contracted to do process re-engineering at a government department. Somewhere during this time I became involved in an ISO certification exercise for this particular department. Not having had much experienced with ISO implementations, I asked the project manager to explain to me in brief terms what ISO quality standards were. He responded with “document what you do and do what you have documented”.

That has pretty much become my motto for Revenue Assurance, and much broader really. This pertains to anything that should be documented. Business rules, business processes, system flows, system rules, you name it. Very often these are not documented which means we all do what we think we should, or are capable of doing given the uncoordinated chaos between systems and departments that is most often the norm.

It becomes difficult to assign and monitor KPI because you are not working from a known and agreed factor. Much like yelloware: firm enough to touch but not solid enough to hold. I have seen many first stabs at KPIs and these are based on gutfeel or general common sense things we should measure. These KPIs were not scientifically determined or based on any maturity index of the department or function’s capability and/or capacity.

I have recently spoken to a number of junior level staff, both in the RA field and other industries and disciplines on the topic of defining KPIs for their business functions (such as procurement and SLA Management) and their individual performance (how are they performance managed against the job’s KPI’s).

I was astounded to find that both the HR people I spoke with (1 was senior) did not see the relevance of the continuous string of interconnection between the organisation structure; to the job role (stating the role objective in context of the strategic and tactical plans); to defining the job outputs (those core responsibilities that would add the execution view to the strategy); to the KPIs to measure and manage the contribution to the organisation. A Balanced Scorecard was some academic thing that resides with the Head of Department and does not filter through to the job description. That means the performance management chain is broken.

I also found that all KPIs discussed with me assumed a process maturity of between 3 and 4. In other words, it assumed the processes involved in producing the output to be measured, or support processes to enable the output, are all in defined and managed mode. I did not find one KPI that was aimed at establishing a capability, as you would assign for a level 1 or 2 maturity. Needless to say, those poor individuals with these sky-high targets did not have the basic doing capability in place let alone the measuring and reporting capability. For some reason organisations assume that building the infrastructure and processes with which to run and grow the business are either in place or relatively easy to just do as part of the overall job.

It was quite alarming to realise how few individuals thought their personal KPIs had any relevance to any measurements that might be in place for specific financial or service related work they may be involved in. This I would put down to not speaking to an individual who had both a set of KPIs used for annual performance management as well as measurable and reportable work tasks, typically the stats you would find in a call centre, help desk or RA. The Customer Service and RA people I spoke with did not have a Balanced Scorecard and those individuals with a BSC don’t work in an environment where objective performance measure are taken.

I have seen this in telco and have tested it now at 2 Banks. Same mindset. There is a disconnection somewhere, a fragmented view on this complex whole we call an organisation. Yet, come financial yearend we are back to drawing up the new BSC because last year’s failed.

Am I seeing a connection where there isn’t one or have I just not seen this implemented anywhere?

Güera Romo
Güera Romo
Güera has many years of experience in business transformation in the engineering, defense, government, banking and telecommunication industries. She has experience in mergers & acquisition, rightsizing, re-deployment of personnel, business process re-engineering, system selection and implementation.   Güera holds a BCom Hon (Industrial and Organizational Psychology) degree and is currently pursuing a doctorate that draws on her practical experience of developing human resource capabilities within large corporations.