Executing Strategy – Monitoring Progress

There are two main parts to monitoring progress – the production of reports and then the use of the reports at the performance meetings.  We appear to be good at producing on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, a whole raft of ‘performance reports’ showing the status of selected measures at a particular point in time.  What we don’t seem to be quite so good at is using the reports.  The “report pack”, sometimes a very large , is produced, circulated and then what happens?  Is it used in performance review meetings or are the reports perceived as being nothing more than ‘interesting’?  If that is the case then you need to really look at your reports and start again, defining reports that will help steer the organisation towards its goals.

In this blog I want to consider the questions:

  • Are your business performance reports useful and usable?
  • Are your performance measures helping to improve the business performance?

For performance reports to be useful and usable you should consider:

  • To find the relevant information, you need to structure the reports around the goals/objectives making them easy to navigate
  • The presentation of the data for the measures is critical. Using graphs to show historic time series to highlight important signals about changes in performance over time rather than a whole host of dials or gauges.
  • Ensuring that each report contains the essential information to know what has happened in the reporting period, why it happened and what action is required, rather than just an update on the progress of all the projects underway or operational minutia that nobody has time to read let alone try to understand.

The content and presentation of reports should make it really easy to see where the performance review team needs to focus its time and efforts.

“Good communication doesn’t just happen, it is the result of good design.”
Stephen Few

The measures you use will help to improve performance when:

  • You stop reacting to differences that are part of normal variation and only to those that are actual performance changes through the use of statistically valid methods rather than simply comparing for example, this month with last month
  • The measures are used as a tool for people to take action.

In other words, there will be confidence that the measures, methodically defined, are a true reflection of what is happening.  So, when measures indicate that the end goal may not be attained, the interim target will not be met, actions will be agreed by the performance review team and then acted upon to correct the direction of travel.

You can read more about the ‘how to’ element of creating reports here in my previous articles: How to Design a Report with Impact and Three Steps to Impactful Reports, and you can read the other articles in my series on Strategy Execution here.  If you’d like to get in touch to find out more about how to monitor the measures you use as you execute your strategy, you can contact me here.

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