Key performance indicators and their comprehensive use in a management system may in principle seem easy enough. Just select a couple (or dozen or so) of these things called metrics or KPI’s or something, measure them, keep track of their values, then use that information to guide your future decisions! It makes sense and is simple enough, right? Well, of course, as they say, the devil is in the details. While the rationale or reasoning behind the entire scheme may be easy to understand, actually implementing a full blown system is rather a different thing entirely! Holding a KPI summit is a great way to keep such a system in perfect (or near enough) working order.
There is the problem of coming up with a system to implement in the first place. This requires that management already have a clear cut corporate strategy, with well defined goals. In many cases the hierarchy of goals and sub-goals rests on the most basic and fundamental ones: the mission and vision of the company. The other, smaller and more specific objectives would then be chosen and formulated such that they are in line with the overall thrust of the organization. This strategy map, as it is sometimes called, can be a topic on its own, but here we assume that it has already been drawn out.
The metrics to be used should then ideally follow directly from the definition of the various goals with respect to the various aspects and departments of the company. For instance, sales departments might formulate goals that relate to increasing links with customers, which would imply that number of new customers would be an important quantity to measure.
Okay, so far, so good, we can see how to get the relevant metrics that we want from our organizational directives and policies.
The logistics and details of their implementation can again be discussed as a matter in its own right, especially for larger and more complex organizations, but again we assume that this has been worked out. Generally what are sought are software solutions that allow the input and storage of all of this data in an efficient and robust manner. The monitoring and analysis of the metrics data gathered can then be performed with the use of these and other tools, and the performance information that we want is finally extractable.
What a KPI summit would address is the tendency for the different parts of the company to slowly drift apart, pursuing their own specific efficiency goals and benchmarks. That is, over time, people would of course tend to focus on their own jobs, and at times this might lead to a sort of narrow mindedness. By bringing people from different departments together to discuss their performance data, a summit would act as a sort of realignment across all hierarchical levels. In addition, fresh eyes would be able to look at a particular group’s data, and possibly see trends and patterns that they, who have been looking at that data for so long, might have overlooked.