Principles of Performance Measurement

All significant work activity must be measured.

  • Work that is not measured or assessed cannot be managed because there is no objective information to determine its value. Therefore it is assumed that this work is inherently valuable regardless of its outcomes. The best that can be accomplished with this type of activity is to supervise a level of effort.
  • Unmeasured work should be minimized or eliminated.
  • Desired performance outcomes must be established for all measured work.
  • Outcomes provide the basis for establishing accountability for results rather than just requiring a level of effort.
  • Desired outcomes are necessary for work evaluation and meaningful performance appraisal.
  • Defining performance in terms of desired results is how managers and supervisors make their work assignments operational.
  • Performance reporting and variance analyses must be accomplished frequently.
  • Frequent reporting enables timely corrective action.
  • Timely corrective action is needed for effective management control.

If we don’t measure ……

  • How do you know where to improve?
  • How do you know where to allocate or re-allocate money and people?
  • How do you know how you compare with others?
  • How do you know whether you are improving or declining?
  • How do you know whether or which programs, methods, or employees are producing results that are cost effective and efficient?

Common problems with measurement systems that limit their usefulness:

  • Heavy reliance on summary data that emphasizes averages and discounts outliers.
  • Heavy reliance on historical patterns and reluctance to accept new structural changes (or re-design of processes) that are capable of generating different outcomes, like measuring the time it takes them to do a task.
  • Heavy reliance on gross aggregates that tend to understate or ignore distributional contributions and consequences.
  • Heavy reliance on static, e.g., equilibrium, analysis and slight attention to time-based and growth ones, such as value-added measures.
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