Do You Really Need A Corporate Performance Office?

January 18, 2010 by Stacey Barr

What is a Corporate Performance Office, will it really help you implement KPIs for strategic performance improvement, and do you really need one?

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A Corporate Performance Office is a small team of people devoted to developing, coordinating, and facilitating their organisation’s performance measurement and management system, from top to bottom, left to right, and back to front. They will do things like this:

  • Choose a deliberate KPI or performance measurement methodology, and deploy it across the organisation.
  • Engage everyone – leaders, managers and staff – in the creation and use of KPIs by providing training and facilitation in the implementation of the chosen corporate KPI approach.
  • Collaborate with the organisation’s information services teams to improve the alignment of data to current and evolving KPI information needs.
  • Keep a single corporate KPI library, to document and manage every performance measure the organisation keeps or uses.
  • Lead the design, development and coordination of performance reporting across the organisation, from simple Excel reports to automated performance dashboards.

But do you really need a Corporate Performance Office too?

Let’s take a look as some of the most compelling “pros” to have a Corporate Performance Office, and trade them off against some of the more deterring “cons” not to.

There are 5 good reasons to have a Corporate Performance Office.

PRO #1: Credibility. A CEO endorsed venture like a Corporate Performance Office puts meaningful performance measurement on everyone’s radar. Coupled with a team that has respected qualifications and experience in performance measurement, and an official and clearly articulated role in coordinating and facilitating performance measurement organisation-wide, this gives performance measurement lots of healthy credibility.

PRO #2: Organisation. A single place to go looking for useful templates, time-saving tools, up to date information on strategic goals and current measures, the latest performance data – imagine that! A good Corporate Performance Office will be the single port of call for all things measurement, conserving the blood, sweat and tears of managers and employees to pour into operational priorities instead.

PRO #3: Efficiency. When the performance measurement system has a central hub like a Corporate Performance Office, the potential for erradicating duplication of effort in measure design, data collection, analysis and reporting is grand. Who’s going to complain about having to spend less time copying and pasting data from one spreadsheet into another, and reformatting the monthly report every month? Their time is better spent improving performance, not reporting it.

PRO #4: Consistency. When the Corporate Performance Office facilitates a consistent process for designing, implementing and using performance measures right across the organisation, it makes it heaps easier for everyone to link to strategy, collaborate across functional and departmental boundaries, and no one is left behind to struggle with outdated measurement methods.

PRO #5: Cost Decrease. The hidden costs of mountains of data management, maintaining myriad dashboard systems, and manual performance reporting aren’t to hard to expose, and when you do expose them, you can see how potent a Corporate Performance Office – focused on organisation, efficiency and consistency – would be in stripping back these costs.

There are 3 downsides to having a Corporate Performance Office.

CON #1: Cost Increase. Employing people in performance measurement roles full time has a cost. But this cost needs to be seen in the context of the hidden costs that are already there, like duplication of reporting, rework and wasted time in finding meaningful measures, missed opportunities to improve performance due to measures not being linked to strategy and operational priorities.

CON #2: Threat. Some people won’t like having the joys and freedom of ad hoc performance measurement taken away from them. They won’t buy in to new methods of measuring and managing performance, even if they work better. If that’s the attitude, then maybe you really do need a Corporate Performance Office to change the performance culture!

CON #3: Finding People. It’s true that the field of performance measurement hasn’t been professionalised yet, and that makes it hard to find people with convincing skills in performance measurement and management. This can be a setback for creating a Corporate Performance Office, but there are programs out there for acquiring these skills, and many people whose experience means they’re at least part way there already.

Do the pros outweigh the cons for your organisation?

In my opinion, they do. If our performance management system isn’t well organised and implemented, just about everything else we try to achieve will be compromised or sabotaged. But don’t take my word for it. Grab some coloured pens, unlined paper, and a coffee (or beverage of choice) and fantasise for a while: How would YOU design your Corporate Performance Office if you got the green light and a clean slate?

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  1. Tim Podesta says:

    My experience is that companies have always had a CPO just under different names. Where I work in a global multinational company we have PPM (Planning & Performance Management. What is missing is the recognition of the skills required other than being energetic and looking to make an impact.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another "pro" is that a performance office would bring together staff with skills in data presentation, database design and programming, program evaluation, survey research methodology, facilitation, organizational behavior, etc. Having people with all of those skills working closely together would allow for a lot of cross-training (formal or informal) and generate synergy. If program people, database people, and data presentation people all work together, then you can eliminate a lot of rework because everyone shares a common understanding of what information is really needed and in what form. The relative ease of transfering lessons learned from one measurement project to the next also builds capacity more quickly than would be the case if the organization had to rely on ad hoc knowledge exchanges among staff.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bob Paladino, author of "Five Key Principles of Corporate Performance Management" maintains that to be effective a Corporate Performance Office needs 5 to 8 people. Most companies already have this many people doing the functions, but the people are spread out or there are numerous people doing little bits of the function. Consolidating all the people and functions in a single office improves both efficiency and the quality of the info.

  4. Stacey Barr says:

    Great comments! Yes I agree – most organisations already have the people performing the functions that a Corporate Performance Office would do, but they miss the advantages of formalising this function – like greater synergy, faster coordination, better quality data and measures, eliminating measurement and reporting rework, and so on. If you believe that performance measurement is one of the most transformational activities any organisation can do, like I believe, then you need to find a way to formalise your Corporate Performance Office!

  5. Like you said above, it is important to have an efficient office. If you don’t, then work isn’t being done which then turns into lost profit. Where I work, I see that about half of the people are costing the company money instead of making money. I’ll have to see about mentioning something like this to my boss to see if we can get more organized and work more efficiently.

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