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Goals – Part 7: Now What?

In earlier entries on this topic, I discussed ideas for successfully managing and improving business performance through goal-setting.    ‘Part 6: The sky is not the limit’ emphasized the need to know when to recognize either success or the need to adjust focus. When you hit your target and things are running just perfectly, what happens next? Is there still a need to continue tracking performance once you’ve figured out how to optimize resources? 

This is a common point of interest among customer-focused businesses, particularly those whose method for tracking performance comes in the form of customer feedback. Because there is a cost associated with a customer relationship assessment program, the question becomes, “Do we have to keep collecting feedback now that we have achieved optimum performance levels?” According to the 2006 article Building on Success, the answer is, “YES.”

Building on Success, by Lisa Norcross, emphasizes the importance of sustaining high performance in an operating system environment, though the author’s principles apply across industries. Her claim is that, “hard-earned improvements will quickly sip away if appropriate measures are not put in place to monitor performance.” Her suggested approach includes:

 

·         Using measures to monitor performance and prevent losing improvements.

o   Selecting indicators that are simple and that reflect business goals

o   Primary measures effectively describe the system’s performance.

o   Secondary measures can act as predictors for forthcoming problems and to aid to the diagnosis of root causes

·         Selecting measures of different timescales for short- and long-term monitoring.

·         Taking frequent measurement to identify and address issues before they become systematic.

The cost associated with such monitoring will vary by company. It is important to evaluate the cost of monitoring versus the potential cost incurred by a slip in performance. It may be determined that a time- and resource-intensive customer feedback program is well worth the investment.   Alternatively, there may be internal metrics that serve as adequate metrics. Norcross suggests the following:

·         Metrics that reflect the customer’s experience of operational performance, and which do not lead to optimization of individual process steps

·         Metrics that cascade from the top-level downward

·         Simple metrics that minimize cost

The resources required to monitor performance vary based on any number of business factors. The key is in acknowledging the success so far and in recognizing that some thought and effort will be required to maintain it.

 

Cortney Lantry

Director, Marketing Sciences

 

Resource

Norcross, L. "Building on success [performance management system]." Manufacturing Engineer 85.3 (2006): 42-45. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Web. 13 Aug. 2010.

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