Tuesday 14 May 2013

Performance measures and performance improvement

I've been immersed in performance measurement and improvement for the last week. One of the main themes for me was about ensuring what's important gets measured and not measuring something just because we can. Another theme was if the performance of something that's important starts to deteriorate, and moves away from the acceptable level set for it, action needs to be taken.

This was obviously at the back of my mind as I drove to yoga this morning as I came to this junction.

I had been diverted and ended up driving through it. It's no longer a roundabout but a junction controlled by traffic lights. Previously there was minimal queues now there's always queues and long waits as each of the four directions gets their green light in turn!

I wondered about the performance measures set for road junctions and assume its something around 'flow of traffic', 'lack of congestion' and 'pedestrian safety'. I then wondered how many cars in a queue at a junction constituted poor performance? And at what point, as a purchasing professional, I'd be suggesting to my supplier that their new super dooper idea hadn't worked. Give Fife Council their due they've persevered for 18 months. I assume in the hope that enough cars find an alternate route (pity about the bus station a few hundred meters away).

I offer some suggestions that might help avoid replicating this that my contract and procurement colleagues and I address every day:
  • Don't spend money just because its in the budget
  • Understand the business requirements that need to be met
  • Understand the performance required for each of these requirements
  • Identify go/no go criteria for options to be considered
  • Weight the other business requirements
  • Assess the options against these go/no go criteria and weightings
  • Undertake risk assessment of each of the options
  • Identify recovery plans to be used if business requirements are not met
  • Identify exit strategies to be used if suppliers fail to deliver
And once the new solution is implemented 
  • Assess performance against the business requirements
  • If the critical success factors are not met agree improvement plans with suppliers
  • Ensure suppliers understand the implications of not meeting the minimum standards
  • Be prepared to follow through on your 'threats'
  • Ensure you review the project so future projects learn from what went well and also what went badly
Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Ensuring your performance measurement is practical and effective


  1. If the list is open to addition, I like 'Don't measure unless you can do something with the measurement'. I suspect lots of measurements are made for the sake of measurement, not the sake of development. And, just while we're in here, for strategic suppliers, we really need to measure strategic impact ( which shouldn't be on time in full...). Great thoughts, Alison!

  2. Add away - collaboration always better than trying to do it on our own :-)