What is the playbook to get a quick win with your performance management projects? Last month, we talked about how to find success with your initiatives by zeroing in on the key needs of the business users and their top pain points. But while it's great to identify a business pain and find a budget attached to solving that pain, it's quite another thing to put in process a plan to execute on the vision.

To help us determine how leading organizations are making performance management projects successful in today's market, we took a look at the a couple of companies that have had quick initial success with dashboard and scorecard performance management projects. Among the groups we talked to included a large technology company, a financial services company and a telecom company. We took their playbook and are giving you an inside look. Here is the eight-step plan to success.

Step 1: Get a senior business sponsor. The best bet is the CEO - what the CEO wants, the CEO gets. In place of that, you need a VP on the business operations side of the house. The bigger, the better. When it doubt, find your sales VP. If your project looks like it is going to generate more money, he or she can find the money.

Step 2: Collect both business and IT requirements. Find out what metrics matter and how they are being measured. This is the time for you to listen really carefully to what you're being told. Find out what information the business folks use, and how long it takes to put it together. Take that information and go find your friends in IT to figure out where the information lives and who the preferred vendors are. Quick-win strategy according to Gartner: your BI standard is the quickest path to performance management success.

Step 3: Beat your vendors. The job of the vendor is to meet the requirements and then be subjected to punishment you inflict. The reality here is that a vendor needs to be able to help generate tactical wins and provide some strategic direction. Use them for their brains as well as their code.

Step 4: Narrow your selection list and make them prove it. Oftentimes, you can quickly determine whether the sales presentation is matched by technological capability. Note that the vendors respond better when they clearly understand this is a senior business project, not an IT song and dance - and believe us, they know when they're being played. However, if you are really serious about this, you should put some skin into the game. Pay them for their time and their ability to perform will dramatically improve.

Step 5: When you find a dance partner, start slow and stay focused. It is one thing to make the team, it is another thing to win the championship. Start with a smaller number of metrics (less than 20) and a small number of users (about 25). User your sponsor and his team as your key customers in partnership with IT rock stars who know how to get the information you need.

Step 6: Start delivering the plan. New projects are inevitably met with skepticism and doubt by people who like the status quo. Ensure the vendor you pick has a proven track record of delivering similar plans to other companies. Ensure you've staffed the project so as to gain the needed knowledge transfer from the vendor to you when they take off and, finally, ensure that the plan has a beginning, a middle and an end. Open-ended project plans lead to unexpected costs and foggy results.

Step 7: Keep marketing, find more sponsors. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn when you start to deliver on the project goals. Remember, you're still competing for budget and mindshare at this stage. Take your project results to other stakeholders who you think would benefit from the information you're now delivering. Brainstorm with your team on how to reach these users and, as they see the results you're delivering, they'll be willing to take the meeting with you.

Step 8: Measure for success. So many initiatives fail because they try to achieve qualitative results. Words such as "improvement," "streamlining" and "increase efficiency" litter the graveyard of unsuccessful project summaries. Instead, the companies we spoke with all attached quantitative numbers to their projects. Putting out a goal of "increasing customer retention by 5 percent" allows people to see in black and white what your project has accomplishe, and makes it far easier to get people on board with the program. Conversely, falling short of your goals doesn't necessarily mean that your project is a failure - to the contrary, it may point to other issues you need to address or help you fine-tune your expectations to take some corrective action. The point is to start measuring!

While there's certainly not magic bullet, hopefully this will give you some insight on how other companies are accomplishing successful performance management initiatives in their organizations. Until next month.

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