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Performance Management Readiness

How to Assess Your Organization’s Foundation for Performance Management

SECOND EDITION

Susan Hostetter
U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC, USA

and

Jim Miller
The MITRE Corporation
McLean, VA, USA

 


Executive Summary

Many organizations create project teams to implement performance management processes and dashboards before they are ready. When is an organization actually ready to put meaningful metrics in place to assess performance and derive the promised benefits? This paper discusses the organizational-level performance management framework needed to implement a well-functioning measurement system and a method for assessing your organization’s foundation for performance management readiness.

The paper covers the role and importance of the following concepts in setting and assessing a foundation for a mature performance management framework for the organization:

  • Executive commitment to improved organizational performance
  • Priority setting for performance improvement
  • Management buy-in for performance improvement
  • Process readiness for managing and controlling scope, schedule, and budget
  • Process readiness for managing resource assignments
  • Process readiness for assessing product quality and customer satisfaction
  • Data readiness for performance measurement
  • Staff passion for being the best at what they do
  • Culture of respect for process, standards, and evidence-based decision-making

Additionally, the paper covers the pre-conditions and processes used for an evaluation, and considerations for an organizational-level performance management implementation roadmap.

Performance Management Readiness

The sidebar at right lists many reasons an organization should implement performance management. All are desirable, such as “improve performance for the future,” and many are common sense, such as “catch mistakes before they lead to other mistakes.” Experienced project managers will tell you, however, that implementing a performance management process is not easy, especially if the benefits are not obvious to the staff, or the data needed to support it is fragmentary or suspect. Many organizations attempt to implement performance management before they are ready. Is it possible to determine when an organization is ready to put meaningful metrics in place and derive promised benefits? In this paper, we share our experience and describe the evaluation process we used for this evaluation.

During the summer of 2016, we assessed the current “AS-IS” state of organizational-level performance management for a division within the U.S. Census Bureau. Our intent was to identify and document existing performance management processes and metrics and establish the AS-IS baseline for a subsequent improvement effort. We knew at the outset of the assessment that this organization, although strong in mission, was weak in performance management. We did not expect to discover, however, that the organization had neither the basic foundational project management and data collection processes needed nor much support for the idea that performance metrics would be useful. We quickly realized that, because of the weakness of the foundation, moving the organization from the AS-IS state directly to a state of generating performance metrics that informed management decisions would be very difficult.

This was the “Aha” moment that became the central idea of our report. Performance management requires a solid foundation composed of an executive vision, robust project management processes, and a good store of current and historical data. Our “Aha” moment suggested that, rather than simply providing an assessment of the current state, we had an opportunity to encourage the organization to build this foundation.

More…

To read entire paper, click here

 

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 4th Annual University of Maryland PM Symposium in May 2017. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.


 

About the Author


Susan Hostetter

U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC, USA

 

 

Susan Hostetter, PMP, is a Project Manager in the Demographic Survey Methodology Division (DSMD) at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, DC, USA. She has spent twenty plus years at the U.S Census Bureau as a data analyst and project management professional. She has been instrumental in standing up and improving risk management, project management, portfolio management, strategic planning, and performance management processes for multiple Census and Survey programs. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Economics at Mary Baldwin College and her Master’s degree in Project Management from the University of Maryland’s University College. Susan can be contacted at susan.lynn.hostetter@census.gov

 


James Miller

U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC, USA

 


James Miller
is a Program and Project Management consultant with the MITRE Corporation in McLean, VA, USA. He began his career in the 1970s as a Systems Analyst and Database Designer with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and was heavily involved in classified computer security design and implementation through the 1980s. He has provided program and project management support and consulting to a variety of federal civil agencies for the past 26 years. With the MITRE Corporation since 2006, Jim has exclusively supported the U.S. Census Bureau on a wide variety of high profile programs and management initiatives. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1972. Jim can be contacted at: millerj@mitre.org