National Seminar Report:Back Office and MI, Performance Management

Combining two of our most popular topics Back Office and MI, this year’s focus was Performance Management.  The Back Office efficiency cycle helps to illustrate the key difference between front and back office planning with the planning element just one part of the cycle:

Performance management can be defined as “Identifying ways of maximising performance”, or “A process for managing underperformance”.  For this presentation the focus was on the more positive definition and ways to maximise performance to drive positive performance, behaviours and quality.  This should also help us to plan more effectively with more consistent results and data.  In the back office it is critical that we performance manage the people and processes.

Why is this performance management different in the Back Office?  Service levels for inbound calls are often externally focused on the customer experience, e.g. answering calls in less than 10, 20 or 30 seconds,  whereas in the Back Office service levels are typically 3 or 5 days, a few do aim for 1 day; but what’s right?

Work allocation, can your people choose which piece of work they do next.  Do you have line of sight of the backlog, is the work automatically distributed to the next available person?

Handle times are more complex and potentially more volatile.  The range of handle times, making it harder to plan and manage.  Do we look at handle time for each individual task or the whole process?

I haven’t even mentioned the challenge of culture and mind-set, which is a massive challenge in the Back Office – in some instances people move from the front office to join the back office so that they are not monitored by “Big Brother”.

Why do we need Performance Management for People?  What will maximising performance and setting the desired behaviours mean?  Consistency, people need to know what is required and why, in addition Team Leader or Manages need help.  If there are huge variances in handle time how does the Team Leader know which one is right?  How can training be tailored to improve Quality?

So this comes down to the processes being right.  This has to be the starting point, to ensure consistency and quality but also to help define the right performance management measures.

If there is no set process in place how can you be sure of consistency?  Are the individual tasks that make up your processes understood?  Could you plan for the handle times at this level, can you target training to a specific task?  Do you have a Process improvement team? Or do you have ways for improvements to be feedback, tested and implemented?  When was the last time you ask your people if there was a better way?  

So what are the Key Performance Indicators in the Back Office?  There will be plenty of performance or operational measures/indicators – as already mentioned these may be internally focused and designed to help with back log planning, or just manage under performance.  They may not be aligned with the company strategy.  Here are some examples of different performance measures, just 16 of maybe 160, but examples taken from our Back Office planning course.

These should provide some “food for thought” for measures you would like introduce:
  • Staff Competency
  • Shrinkage
  • Productivity
  • Utilisation
  • Occupancy
  • Idle Time
  • Thru-put
  • Backlog
  • Service Levels
  • Average Task Time
  • Cost per task
  • End to End Time
  • Re-work
  • Touch Points
  • Process Adherence
  • Quality (?)
In summary Back Office Performance Management:
  • Is necessary to maximise Performance and Quality and achieve your organisations goal/strategy
  • It’s very different in the back office.
  • Both the process and people need to be managed, but the starting point needs to be the process – make sure the process is fit for purpose before managing the people.
  • And finally, ensure that the Key Performance Indicators are aligned to the company strategy.
Why not write down all your existing Back Office measures, then all the measures that are critical for effective planning.  What prevents/stops you from measuring what you want?

The MI Maturity Model

Why is Data so hard to get in the Back Office?
There are too often multiple sources, sometimes over multiple sites managed by multiple teams – so is it any wonder there isn’t “One Version of the Truth”?  Critical to this is Storage and the Data infrastructure, which systems are being used?  Is there a central hub where all data is stored?  Is this version controlled and how often is it backed up?  These will impact the reporting of any data.  Data is only relevant if its timely with trusted data.

It requires the ability to demonstrate a robust and reliable data infrastructure which leads towards one version of the truth and reporting in an effective and timely manner.

You can see that I’ve highlighted ROBUST and RELIABLE, the data infrastructure is critical to provide trusted data on time.  The aspiration has to be ONE VERSION OF THE TRUTH, which again helps us to provide trusted insight.  Finally, I’ve highlighted TIMELY; too often we don’t have enough time for analysing and too much time spent sourcing the data from multiple locations.

Do you let your lack of data dictate your targets?
The ideal world is to have the right data that enables us to create the right targets, which can be performance managed to maximise performance in line with company strategy which enables inspirational leadership in “ONE DIRECTION”. 

Do we have the ability to demonstrate that the allocated business targets are driving the correct or desired behaviours?  Lack of visibility, this is DATA, multiple sources, etc…  This could lead to DATA and MEASURE not being understood.  Too many reports and not enough analysts, or your analysts are spending too long collating data and not enough time analysing.

All this can contribute towards no stakeholder buy-in to the measures – the measures are being created due to the accessibility of data and not because there are the right measure in line with strategic goals.
Are they reliable, timely and accurate – and most importantly do they add value and provide performance insight?

And final point around LEADERSHIP, is the MI forward thinking and inspirational

In Summary:
  • Starting Point is data.
  • Don’t let a lack of data dictate your measures.
  • Effective reporting has to be reliable, trusted and timely.
  • To enable inspirational leadership you need to align targets and measures with your strategy.
View the presentations

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