It’s easy to get caught up in a given project. An executive sponsor, in response to a given business or competitive situation, tells the engineering team that a particular functionality or platform is a requirement, and needs to be in place as soon as possible. Almost overnight, a project plan is created, an architecture is defined, resources are engaged, and DevOps formulates a methodology for supporting the new platform.
But, as with many other projects in the past, the question is asked – is this project really providing value to the business? Is it really fulfilling the objective(s) it was intended to address?
And if the answer is yes, then comes the next question – how do you know?
Designing the Right Processes to Meet the Right Goals
It’s your job as an Enterprise Architect or team lead or CIO to make sure that the projects that your team builds and implements are built and managed in a responsible manner. And that means defining data points, or indicators that will help you track whether the system you’ve built is truly functioning as it should, and whether it’s providing value to the larger enterprise.
For most of us involved with enterprise architecture and systems design, the concept of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) metrics is pretty basic, and we’ve been designing them into systems for a long time now. But the reality is, no matter how sophisticated we get, the business still requires new functionality, development timeframes get compressed, and systems become very complex, to the point that defining and managing the right KPIs becomes a lot more challenging than we’d like.
But KPI management, especially in real-time, is critical to the success of any enterprise, as it provides insight into the operation of the business, as those operations are happening.
Data is Great – Decisions are Better
The collection and analysis of KPIs valuable, no doubt – this post has done nothing if it hasn’t made that point. But data isn’t of much value unless it leads to conclusions which ultimately produce action. And that’s the real value of implementing KPI management: good KPI management systems not only capture data, but evaluate that data against a set of criteria composed of business and performance objectives, and provide recommendations as to possible courses of action.
Every process should have a goal. That’s a given. And once you automate that process, you should be able to map your KPIs to those process goals, and track your progress in meeting those goals. And based on those metrics, you should have the capability to generate predictive next-action recommendations. This is where the value of that data truly makes itself felt.
Data Is Great, Decisions are Better – and Intelligence May Be Best Of All
Gathering data from existing processes is valuable, and generating KPIs from that historical data has value as well. But no business exists in a vacuum, and every market is a constantly changing landscape that can drive your business in different and unexpected directions. Because of this, any operational management tool should be able to collect and provide intelligence from internal and external data streams, and incorporate that intelligence into not only the decision-making process for the company, but also into the KPI metrics and ongoing operations reporting. If you can’t adjust your KPIs as new data is gathered, you lack the ability to adjust your operations to new business realities.
And After the Decision Has Been Made – Action
Success in business is about nothing if not intelligent decisions leading to real action. And it’s because of this that any business operations tool should not only provide data and intelligence, but provide an integrated capability to track those actions. Things like process goals become more valuable when you associated them with activity, and those activities in turn become more valuable when their progress and completion are tracked. Things like resource scheduling, collaboration, case management and analytics should all be part of your business operations approach.
The Real Value of Real Time KPI Management
Obviously, I’m biased – after all XMPro provides software that focus on the management of real time KPI metrics – but the truth is that while it’s necessary to define the requirements and the design of a system, without the right data generated from that system, which in turn supports the right decisions and actions, the system is of limited value. If you can’t see into the processes you’re following in your enterprise, map those processes to real time KPI metrics, and track your operational activities to meet your operational goals, you have a problem.
But if you can see how a business or operational goal leads to a process, how that process is measured through the use if KPIs, and track the successful completion of those goals, it can lay the foundation for not only successful operations, but strategic growth initiatives as well. And that alone is an excellent reason for creating real time KPI management as your next strategic project.