KPIs and Alignment of IT Systems

This follow-up piece to the previous one is way overdue. No matter how well thought out the KPIs your have chosen are, and how well cascaded the overall company objectives and KPIs are to each group/department, if the company IT Systems are not aligned as well, then it would be difficult to monitor actual performance and give feedback to those accountable for the results committed.

Part of the rationale for KPIs is to enable those accountable to focus on the few most important results that need to be achieved, and to clarify up front how success will be measured.  If information on the measurement of results are important, IT Systems must be implemented to facilitate the timely measurement and reporting of such measures of success.  Who was it that said, what gets measured gets done?

But what if top management don’t put money where their mouth is and the various departments, IT included, are not given the support they need to enable measurement as part of the day-to-day business operations?  There will be little reliable measures of actual performance to help those accountable assess their progress and take corrective actions to realign their work.

You might think that IT Systems alignment is obvious and that top management would know better to give the support to enable the whole organization to get regular and reliable performance feedback on KPIs through automated information systems. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, perhaps specially with some family businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

It’s challenging enough for managers and executives to maintain high performance without having themselves and their team members also handle the manual collection and reporting of results, or lack of it. The moral of the story is for top management to have the wisdom and discipline to require and support the alignment of IT Systems to report on KPIs.

And, if the company is starting from very little in this area, one way to move forward is to prioritize and create a road map for change.  Typically, a phased approach is necessary to align IT Systems.

What’s key is to plan and then implement the road map for IT Systems alignment, instead of wasting the efforts on defining and cascading objectives and KPIs throughout the company without automated, reliable, and timely measures of performance.

Managing Business Performance Using Objectives, Key Result Areas, Key Performance Indicators and Targets

One of the critical competencies for managers and supervisors is managing the business performance of their departments/sections/units.  More often than not, this is one area where coaching and mentoring is much needed.

One basic approach that can go a long way is to learn more about and apply the use of SMART Objectives, Key Result Areas, Key Performance Indicators, and Targets.  While attending workshops are helpful, reading available materials and books are effective ways to learn as well.  Even more effective is to try out the few KPIs that are most relevant in terms of aligning a department’s objectives with the overall strategic objectives and strategies of the company.

Simply put, a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measure of how well something, an objective, is achieved and gives valuable feedback on whether performance is on track or not so that the manager and team can take appropriate action to get back on track.

Not having clearly defined KPIs is like driving without a clear destination and directions to guide you.  Don’t leave results and outcomes to chance.  Plan the work and then work the plan.  Always have measures and get top management sign off.

Here are some useful resources to get you started on your journey of learning by doing and experimentation.

Here’s an article if you would like to discover more resources on KPIs:   Finding the Right KPIs – 5 KPI Libraries That Are Key to Your Performance.

If the subject of KPIs excites you, there are many resources to study and learn from, and help you equip yourself and your team with the knowledge and skills to effectively plan, execute, monitor and control, and realign business performance.