Key Success Factors for Metrics & KPI Visibility and Governance

By: Brian Bohan, Vice President of Worldwide Sales Consulting

In conversations with contacts at other large organizations, I have repeatedly heard how metrics and key performance indicator (KPI) initiatives have fallen short, not because the data weren’t aggregated and provided to decision-makers quickly and accurately, but because the individuals constituting the teams responsible for running the business on a day-to-day-basis did not fully understand the business context of a metric or KPI; did not have confidence in a given measure or its sources; and never fully appreciated how their teams contributed to the metrics or the resultant initiatives to drive improvement. And the executives, while they had their metrics and visibility, lacked the tools to track consistently the improvement programs they put in place as a result of their interpretation of those metrics.

Visibility is frequently mentioned as a goal of projects aiming to aggregate and rollup metrics and KPIs to executive dashboards.  It usually refers to providing those executives and decision-makers improved insight into the underlying measures of the health and performance of the business and to make decisions accordingly. Aiming for visibility and understanding for top decision makers is absolutely critical and obviously a sound goal for these types of initiatives, however, in doing so we risk defining the problem narrowly, ignoring the perspective of a much broader audience charged with improving the underlying business processes and functions that the measures reflect.

The ultimate solution must provide every decision-maker and contributor in the chain the visibility and tools necessary to grasp the big picture, their place in it, and their role in shaping and improving it. To achieve these goals, and to ensure a closed loop of optimization, the solution must provide a clear view into three primary attributes of any given metric, namely: Definition and Context; Integrity; and Organizational Accountability and Alignment.

More to come regarding the definition and context of KPIs, integrity, and accountability and alignment.

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