The Steps of PuMP in Detail

by Stacey Barr

While this won’t teach you how to implement PuMP for great KPIs, it will give you a snapshot of every thinking step in PuMP, that makes it such a great KPI methodology.

The PuMP Blueprint Flowchart

PuMP is the name of a deliberate methodology designed specifically to choose, create and use performance measures to monitor and improve the performance of an organisation, or any part of that organisation.

Now, PuMP is not a quick fix or trivial approach to KPIs. It’s thorough and comprehensive. It’s detailed. It’s well tested and proven. It contains nothing that’s not essential and everything it contains is essential. It takes time to learn and time to practice. And that’s why it works.

WARNING: Please don’t mistake this article as a how-to for PuMP. It can never replace proper instruction. But what I hope it will give you is an overview of the thinking steps required to make performance measurement practical, engaging and meaningful.

That said, here are the detailed steps of the PuMP methodology:

Step 1: Understanding Measurement’s Purpose

In the first step of PuMP, our focus is to make sure the Measures Team shares the same understanding of what proper performance measurement is. To do this, we use a tool called the PuMP Diagnostic. They explore a set of criteria of proper performance measurement, and also calculate a Performance Measurement Maturity Score.

1.1: Discuss the diagnostic criteria

1.2: Capture and summarise ratings

1.3: Discuss how PuMP will lift the ratings

Step 2: Mapping Measurable Results

The second step of PuMP is overlooked in almost any other measurement approach, but it’s vital for KPI success: having measurable goals. The Measures Team will translate their goals into clear, focused and measurable performance results. Here we use two techniques: the Measurability Tests and the Results Map.

2.1: Test the strategy’s measurability

Test A: Is it a result, or an action?

Test B: Are there any weasel words?

Test C: Is the goal multi-focus?

Test D: Should we improve it, can we improve it, and will we improve it?

Test E: How does the goal align with the rest of the strategy?

2.2: Tease out the implied performance results

2.3: Map the relationships among results

2.4: Test the logic of the Results Map

2.5: Highlight priority results worth measuring

Step 3: Designing Meaningful Measures

The third step in PuMP is where the Measures Team finally gets started on the measures. It’s about choosing the most feasible and relevant measures that provide evidence of their performance results. The technique used here is called Measure Design.

3.1: Begin with the result in mind

3.2: List sensory evidence

3.3: Create potential measures

3.3.1: Rate the strength of each measure

3.3.2: Rate the feasibility of each measure

3.3.3: Choose the most feasible strong measures

3.4: Check the bigger picture

3.5: Name the measure

Step 4: Building Buy-in to Measures

The fourth step of PuMP is designed to bring us to the point where the Measures Team has sufficient buy-in from the majority of stakeholders in their measures, to confidently implement them. This step can seem unnecessary, or even a bit scary, but never underestimate the power of buy-in. We use the Measure Gallery technique to make this quick, easy and engaging.

4.1: Who needs to buy in?

4.2: Invite; don’t mandate

4.3: Create space for dialogue

4.4: The right people will come

4.5: Gather feedback and use it

Step 5: Implementing Measures

The fifth step of PuMP is the ‘crunchiest’. It’s where all the implementation details of each measure are fleshed out. The Measures Team use the Measure Definition template to create an implementation action plan for all their measures, including the following details:

5.1: Name and description

5.2: Intent

5.3: Where it fits

5.3.1: Level in Results Map

5.3.2: Performance result

5.3.3: Related measures

5.3.4: Process or department

5.4: Calculation

5.4.1: Formula

5.4.2: Frequency

5.4.3: Scope

5.4.4: Data items

5.5: Presentation

5.5.1: Comparison type

5.5.2: Presentation method

5.5.3: Frequency

5.6: Response

5.7: Owners

5.7.1: Performance owner

5.7.2: Definition owner

5.7.3: Data owner

5.8: Other notes

Step 6: Interpreting Signals from Measures

By the time they reach the sixth step in PuMP, the Measures Team has data for at least a few of their measures, ready to use. And what they will use is the XmR chart, to clearly display the natural variability and any signals of change in each of their measures. The basic process is like this:

6.1: Measure frequently enough

6.2: Gather enough context

6.3: Use a time-series graph

6.4: Filter out noise

6.5: Look for signals

The XmR chart itself has quite a few steps in its creation and interpretation, and we teach this in PuMP too.

Step 7: Reporting Performance Measures

With a growing collection of XmR charts for their measures, the Measures Team will design a way to report them together for the full story of performance. That means using the PuMP technique of Report Design, for creating useful and usable performance reports that inspire action.

7.1: Structure to strategy

7.2: Answer: what? why? now what?

7.3: Use graphs that signal

7.4: Design to engage

7.5: Automate

Step 8: Reaching Performance Targets

The eighth and final step in PuMP is put the measures to use, to reach for performance targets. We measure performance to improve it, and often targets provide direction and motivation for that improvement. The PuMP technique for Reaching Performance Targets is based heavily on business process improvement.

8.1: Set sensible targets

8.2: Prioritise performance gaps

8.3: Find the causes (don’t stop at the symptoms)

8.4: Choose high-leverage solutions

8.5: Look for signals and check for impact

This is an overview of the scope of PuMP, and not a how-to!

If you want to read more about PuMP, or want to add PuMP Certification to your skill set, you might like to start with these suggestions:

    1. A video where I give an overview of PuMP, why it matters and where it came from.
    2. What makes PuMP so unique in developing meaningful KPIs.
    3. What PuMP Certification is, and how to get it.

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