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Successful organizations understand the importance of using performance data to measure business performance.  Data can provide the necessary statistics used to measure key performance indicators which provides necessary information to make management decisions about improvements, adjustments or modifications to current systems or processes.  

There are several types of performance data that is used to demonstrate if a process is working, needs some adjustment and provides a high level picture of the organization.  Best practice organizations use performance data to determine the success of the organization and incorporate what is learned into improvement efforts.

1.  Operational and Financial Budgets

Budgets determine how to use and manage financial resources within an organization.  Strategic plans help develop a road-map that prioritizes spending and allows the organization to budget toward the vision.  It is important to have an annual budgeting process that ensures resources are appropriately allocated to the strategic plan.  Budgeting is a critical to good business management.

2.  Customer Satisfaction Data

Soliciting customer feedback can provide valuable information that can be used to help improve products and services offered to customers. It also helps to identify changing customer needs and expectations and can be used to develop products and services to improve the customer experience.  

3.  Error Rates
Errors can happen throughout all stages of product production and delivery.  Error rates can be used to develop improvement initiatives that enhance products and services.  Successful improvement initiatives that use error rates can help reduce the number of product returns and customer complaints. 

4.  Improvement Initiatives
Process improvement initiatives help improve how a product or service is made or delivered to the customer.  Monitoring improvement efforts can help determine if the improvement is delivering the predicted results or if adjustments need to be made.  Whether it’s tracking hold times, wait times, or production speed, improvement initiative data can offer very valuable information to decision makers.   

5.  Employee Satisfaction
It is important to understand the employee experience by soliciting employee feedback.  Employee satisfaction information can help provide data used to support employees and is a great way to improve employee engagement.  

6.  Goals – Employee and Business
Goals should be monitored to ensure prioritization and completion. Tracking progress toward completing goals can affect when goals are achieved. 

Performance data is an organization’s best friend.  In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about confronting the brutal facts in order to affect positive change.  Identifying what performance data to collect, monitoring and using data to direct improvement initiatives is a great first step in enhancing an organization’s performance.

This Business article was written by Patricia Lotich on 7/28/2011

Patricia Lotich is an MBA who is passionate about helping small business owners see their vision come to life by creating infrastructures that support business development and growth through strategic customer focus. She writes for The Thriving Small Business, which provides small business performance consulting services.