In the same way that five out of five dentists agree that brushing your teeth is a good idea, business and IT people agree that they want to improve performance. More importantly, at least 80 percent of those same people have active performance management projects happening - and likely you do too. If you are part of this great majority focused on delivering performance, it is likely that your performance management approach falls into one of three common flavors:

  • A C-level, enterprise-wide strategic performance initiative;
  • A department or functional area performance project (e.g., sales and marketing scorecards, manufacturing operations dashboards, strategic sourcing, financial planning and operations, compliance management, insert your department jargon here); or
  • A pilot dashboard project.

While there may be 31 flavors of these types of projects, the bottom line for all of them is: get your project moving or get your resume updated. So let's talk about turning a performance management project into an operational reality.
Assuming you are not the CEO of your company, the first trick is to think like the CEO. In much the same way that dressing like your boss is a good way to get noticed as a company man, aligning your project with the CEO's objectives is a great way noticed, get funded and maybe even get promoted. But this means you have to understand what is important at the senior executive level and get on the bus.

IDC recently published their views of the CEOs agenda for technology spending in 2004 in a research note titled "IDC Predictions 2004: New IT Growth Wave, New Game Plan," by Frank Gens. According to our friends at IDC, your CEO wants spend money on the following six important CEO things:

  1. Regulatory compliance management - Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA - rules about money.
  2. Product innovation and development - things that make money.
  3. Post-merger integration and return - buy something, then make more money.
  4. Single view of customers across channels - still trying to live the CRM dream.
  5. Improved return on invested capital - money making more money.
  6. Building and expanding services - add your stuff, make money.

This is clearly about making money. The first question to ask yourself here is, does my project look like it falls into any of those big categories?
If the answer is no, then the second question should be, does my project help sales sell more? If the answer is no, then your next question should be, does anyone with a VP title care about my project? If the answer is no, get a new project. No one has any time or any money for a project that is not seen as driving revenue or delivering strategic value to the business. They have even less time for an IT dashboard project looking for a home.

However, if the answer to the above questions are yes, it is time to put the pedal to the metal and get a quick win on the financial front - whether it relates to tracking the money your organization has, or helping the organization to get more of it.

The single biggest thing you can do to ensure success is to secure senior business sponsorship. In order for a performance management project to be strategic, it has to be driven, owned and paid for by the business. And the business side of the house is charged with driving revenue. The problem is, many times, your project is treated like an academic exercise - deliver a dashboard project and watch the money roll in. If only it was so easy.

In reality, getting that insight into the business drivers within your organization requires a broad management view and insight into customers, finances and operations. No matter how strong and smart your CIO is, he can't be expected to know details of all operations areas. Besides, at the end of the day, the CIO and the IT staff are viewed as overhead. The "manage the expense" group is not going to be armed for success. What you need is a business sponsor and an idea of what part of the revenue process they are responsible for in your company - and the more the better. Senior sponsorship is key to your success.

Next month, we will take a look at the project plan to success. In the mean time, begin your spring cleaning projects, find the senior business sponsorship you need to execute for success. And as always, let us know your feedback.

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