Performance Management

by Peter Parkes


The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.

Barbara Hall, Northern Exposure, ‘Rosebud’, 1993

The competitive landscape is fast changing.

  • Has our strategy changed?
  • Has our priority changed?
  • Have we introduced new technologies?
  • Should we outsource some of our transactional processes?
  • Are we easily meeting our targets or falling far short?
  • How are we comparing against our peer group/competitors?
  • Are the things we are measuring helping us?
  • Have we stabilised and matured enough to adopt more input measures and fewer output measures?

There are many reasons why we need to change what we measure with time, so it is essential that we schedule in at least periodic reviews. Since measures should cascade from strategy, this review should follow the annual refresh of the organisational strategy and business plan.

As industry does not stand still and the field against which we measure ourselves changes with time, we also need to periodically benchmark against our peer group to ensure that we are not being left behind. Best practice would be an ongoing comparison against our external benchmark as well as our target, or to link our target to the external benchmark. For practical purposes, if we are updating our external benchmarks on an annual basis, we are probably not going to be left behind.

At a practical level, assuming we have carried out the earlier steps correctly, our performance measures should be by-products of the work-flow and not be an onerous burden. We need to have an ongoing understanding of where we are with respect to our targets, and we should review the measurement process and targets at the same time as reviewing gaps in performance.

Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965)