#27 Should Performance Measurement Go On The Backburner When Times Get Tough?

by Stacey Barr

Measuring performance takes time, effort and money. You have to stop your “real work” to figure out what’s worth measuring and set up the data capture and reporting to measure it.

So in times like these, when everyone’s cutting budgets, downsizing and cancelling non-core projects, should performance measurement go on the backburner too?

Imagine that you do stop investing in performance measurement now, because times are tougher.

You’ve cut your training budget back, so you’re not developing people’s measurement skills. You’ve cut back staff numbers, so everyone’s too busy doing real work to measure anything. You’ve turned your attention to doing something (anything) to adapt, and measuring feels like it’s slowing you down.

Companies and organisations that think this way apparently must also think that performance measurement is not urgent, not core, and not essential to making the best of bad times. They must see measuring as a cost and not as a lever.

Here’s why they’re wrong:

1. In tough economic times, companies and organisations have more constraints, so they need to perform better to get the same results. Everyone knows, just like they know the sun rises in the east, that you can’t improve performance unless you measure it (and measure it properly).

2. There’s waste in everything, whether it’s a core function or not. When times get tougher, it’s the waste that has to go, not the highest costs. It’s the fat that must be shed, not the muscle. Only by measuring to pinpoint the waste can you be sure you’re not shedding important muscle.

3. What becomes urgent in economic downturn is the speed with which companies and organisations can adapt. The faster they can take control of performance, and identify and strip out the waste, the less they allow the downturn to take away from them. When you measure, you reach your goals faster.

What are your own opinions about this? Should performance measurement take a backseat until times get better, or not? Let’s get some discussion going on theMeasure Up blog, leave your comment below.

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  1. Norma says:

    Whether you should drop measuring performance or not depends on whether you take time to analyze the metrics you're collecting and take action on those things that will give you a payback. It's wise to drop what is not business strategic, but if what you're measuring is business-strategic and you drop it, you can expect pain. Data is insightful and gives you a competitive edge particularly if your competitors aren't paying attention. As an example, imagine Company A knowing precising how their corporate messaging is performing at the point of sale and Company B not having a clue. The POS is where the rubber meets the road…it's where value and trust are created…and these determine whether or not a next meeting will take place. Imagine cutting this kind of data out of the equation in times like this. Imagine learning HOW TO create value from your metrics, and duplicating that enterprisewood. So the questions are: What are you measuring? What is it teaching you? What are you doing about it? If nothing, start paying attention to valuable metrics or stop wasting money.

  2. Stacey says:

    Norma – I LOVE what you've said! In times like this, when performance is constrained by economic factors (or at least how people are behaving due to their perceptions about economic conditions), our measures and data can absolutely give us an edge! We have to step up, not step back, when we're faced with constraints on our success. Thanks for sharing your views.

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