KPIs Don’t Have To Bite! Develop KPI for Process Improvement Instead by David Reynolds

Monday, October 5th, 2015

measuring kpiPerformance is not an evil word, it is evidence of how well we arrange, conduct, monitor, and improve our work. How can we measure FM performance, especially performance that directly concerns organizational strategies and goals? Can FM keep pace with the organization’s planning cycle, with its changing strategies and associated risks? Can FM find simple, practical measures that show results, trends, and how to respond to problems and opportunities? In a word, yes.

This article is based on an upcoming Webinar (Register to attend the Webinar on November 19, 2015)

Measuring Performance

In theory, clear, economical, quick, reliable, easy to use measurements exist to gauge performance – They are called key indicators of performance (KPIs.) We need them to keep track of progress. How do we find them? Ask management, call a colleague, or look on the Internet? Use catchy business words? Rely on luck? Probably not the best ideas, especially as the triple bottom line of financial, social, and environmental values influences FMs to become deft in measurements that support C-level strategies with complementary FM strategies. Essential FM projects and their process components can elude measurement. Q: “How’s that project coming?” A: “Ninety percent done.” Q: “When will it be done?” A: Mumble, stumble, grumble, bumble… It was ninety percent last week. You wish that you had not asked. Now, what do you tell Management?

Define, measure & report, adjust

Everything that we do in FM is a process. If we cannot explain what we do as a process, we don’t know what we are doing (nod to W. Edwards Deming.) Define the process to monitor with KPIs Important processes that implement FM strategies warrant KPIs to track their results. Too many measures confuse. Only a few are key. Diagram selected processes so that you can respond effectively later on, when a KPI changes. Process diagrams are plentiful in form, style, and content. Any one that shows actions, actors, and contingencies to bring a business result will serve. Make the process diagram a social focus to stress its importance and invite input. Post where people can look, talk, point out, draw, and redraw. Check in often and listen.

Measure and report with KPIs>

Finding KPIs, is itself a process. In a nutshell, a practical key measurement must simply and directly represent the business result sought and be completely attributable, quick to check, and show how to respond when performance changes. Practical KPIs show at once whether results are getting better, worse, or staying the same. No waiting. To allow separation of random effects from meaningful trends, KPIs must be sharply defined as single values, not abstract or vague words, which are not suitable for analysis and fail to show how to respond. Post proposed KPIs with the process diagram, where people can look, talk, and contribute insights about how and what to measure.

KPIs show how to respond – find root causes

When a KPI shows a meaningful change in performance, take action, but don’t be tempted to stop at a single cause and blame or judge. Go deeper into the roots, or the problem will show up again. More to the point, people will not buy into KPIs used for judgement and blame. The business purpose of KPIs is to help people improve the outcomes of important processes. Start with the goal affected and work backward to causes by asking iterative “why questions.” In a diagram, the answers (causes) will often branch and cross connect, like the roots that nourish a plant. A healthy plant is the goal. Change the process, then monitor the KPIs.

Where does this leave the FM?

Well formed KPIs show definitively when action is due, or when an earlier action has had an effect, good or bad. If you are already thinking that FM processes can be designed with KPIs already in place, you are in good company. FMs are born thinking ahead.

 This article is based on an upcoming Webinar (Register to attend the Webinar on November 19, 2015)

More Learning

My view of KPIs is substantially influenced by the unfailing practicality and rigor of Stacey Barr and the dedication of the Balanced Scorecard Institute in joining separate interests and stakeholders with clarity and control around measurable results. I find the cause mapping approach of ThinkReliability helpful when KPIs confirm problems or improvements. Plentiful, widely available sources of process diagrams, KPI approaches and methods, and cause mapping are available to serve FMs in process design and measurement.

David Reynolds, MS, FMP, CFM

David Reynolds is an FM consultant based in Mississippi, in the U.S. His involvement in FM arose out of work in engineering, operations, and related information technology. He has a lifelong interest in how people experience the built environment. He began consulting in offshore oil field and inland marine transportation during the 1990s, building teams that streamlined and transformed production processes. He has continued in technical operations and project management roles since, concentrating exclusively in FM since joining IFMA in 2002. He earned the CFM in 2014.

Helping FMs to gauge, interpret, and take action in order to make processes reliable, productive, and resilient is the mission of FM-CONSULT-CREATE, his consultancy.
He focuses on FM as organizations adopt asset management principles and practices following ISO 55000, where clear, visible, interactive, maintainable, process and risk models, data, and measurements can better frame FM in organizational strategies and objectives.

Pro bono work includes construction, maintenance, safety, and health. David is also a member of the IFMA Environmental Health and Safety Council.

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