To run our organization, we devise a strategy. It tells us what to watch, what to change, and what to leave alone, so we know how to succeed.
Our strategy meeting is a chance to discuss strategy effectiveness. We review what we did, what we need to do next, and most of all: What we need to stop doing.
We need to track strategy effectiveness, and we need to adapt, as the market adapts - fast.
#5: We scrape data from silos and consolidate in Excel
Data we need to comprehend strategy execution is in silos:
- Sales and marketing use a CRM (e.g., Salesforce, InfusionSoft, etc.)
- Finance uses an ERP (e.g., SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle E-Business, etc.)
- Customer service uses a ticket system (Zendesk, Jira, Bugzilla, etc.). They’re not connected
Our strategy team collects reports from each system, scrapes out the data, and pastes it into Microsoft Excel in a prescribed format. It’s a start. But:
- Manual processes mean extra work and errors
- It’s out of date. The next quarter has started
- No feedback; questions and answers are lost in e-mail
- We can't tie detailed questions to our content
- Changes mean redesign; and strategy will change
- No links to performance improvement projects
We need automation and accuracy, to share strategy and execution with everyone, with online discussion, and agility to change as our strategy tacks to the market.
#4: We wait for the data warehouse to be done
We plan to get to the strategy project.
As soon as we’re done with the three-year project to complete the data warehouse, it will provide the data for a strategy system. This means:
- We wait to figure out strategy alignment until IT is done with the data warehousing project. All we do is guarantee we wait to get started
- It’s not agile. If we need to add new metrics, they’re added to the data warehouse in the next version
Data warehouses are good. But they’re never “done”
We need a system our business users can manage, that works now, and, once the data warehouse goes online, hooks up fast.
#3: Our dashboard is automated: but it’s a silo
We did put a system in place to handle performance management. Better! We are free of arduous, slow, inaccurate manual processes. We’re able to look at our strategy execution month-to-month, or even day-to-day.
But it’s another silo:
- Closed off to our business intelligence (BI)
- Calculations don’t match our business rules
- For supporting evidence, we bounce between the silos looking for patterns and changes
We need a system that mixes the summaries from our performance reporting with the details we need to drill into, with the content we have already put together right there.
#2: We automate the dashboard quarterly
Our performance dashboards often focus on the quarter just passed.
We need more. This doesn’t show the changes between this quarter and the previous (or for seasonal organizations - retail, manufacturing, education - the prior season).
To see how the strategy should change over time, we must see the direction in which the numbers are going. Big picture: At least two-year trends.
#1: Give up on performance management
Putting all the pieces together is often just too hard. We settle for looking at the monthly or quarterly bottom-line numbers and that becomes our “lever” for improving the company.
Without a system to evaluate our strategy, we’re working in a vacuum without the right facts to make decisions. We manage by “gut.” So, if Sales isn’t making its numbers for this quarter, we might suggest:
- Better incentives?
- Improve product/market fit?
- Improve product and service quality?
- Fix post-sales support, so customers don’t cancel contracts?
Without knowing the right reasons for weak sales, could we miss the real causes?
And if Total Sales is the only lever we can pull, to improve it, we’d cut the list price and up the incentives. But this erodes profitability.
And will it fix the problem?
We don’t know.
We have to know not just that we’re performing above or below expectations, but also why, so that we can adjust based on what we know.
If we manage by gut, we improve the wrong things, fail to nail problems, and don’t mine opportunity.
We need a framework
There is a better way. We can use a framework to tie everything together, make it agile so we can adapt, which let us share organization-wide to allow action and feedback as the strategy succeeds. Here's a great one: Learn more about WebFOCUS Performance Management Framework.