Stakeholders in performance management

I have observed that few organisations really buy in to performance management until they have a performance problem. When an organisation has a performance problem they want to fix it. Now. A lot of work then goes into fixing the problem and then the team is disbanded or looses focus until the next performance problem arises. This reactive approach is not universal, but it is common. The approach is often augmented by a volume and performance test stage as part of the final testing, which is then inevitably squeezed out.

I have been left wondering why this should be so in a number of organisations who are all highly professional in every respect. An explanation that depends on short sightedness or lack of strategic thinking is insufficient, as the organisations in question succeed in highly competitive and complex environments.

My belief is that it relates to the stakeholders within the different parts of an organisation and their input to the development process. It is very difficult to deliver a business change programme, and the time scale is always as short as possible. Most organisations roll-out new software technology in an incremental fashion, and so they believe that they will buy time to fix any performance issues as they occur. The project delivery is primarily driven by stakeholders who wish to drive the change as quickly as possible with as low a schedule risk as possible.

When the system is in production there is usually a warranty period, and then the system transitions to an operational state. In the operational state the stakeholder drivers are to minimise maintenance costs. Thus fixing the issues that haven’t appeared yet will not be a high priority – especially since there are usually plenty of issues that are a high priority to work on.

So what is the answer? Unfortunately it depends on the organisation and their culture. In a highly structured and procedural culture the answer would be to make sure that there are identified procedures for following through the need to complete performance assurance. In a less structured culture the answer would be to make sure the operational stakeholders have sufficient power and understanding to put in place protective measures. If you need advice please feel free to contact me at dh@sarquol.com, or call on +44 7887 536083.

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