Magazine Article | September 1, 2003

Hold Employees Accountable

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Performance management is the newest buzzword to invade your company. Unlike some trendy terms of the past, you should pay attention to this one.

Integrated Solutions, September 2003
Ed Hess

Performance management is one of those buzzwords that flat-out sounds too good to be true. In that way, it's not dissimilar from, say, knowledge management. You can manage a supply chain. You can manage customer relationships. However, for the most part, you can't manage "knowledge."

So, can you really manage the individual performance of each employee? Well, according to a whole host of vendors, the answer is, "Yes." If it's not true, then reams of vendor marketing collateral and product positioning papers will soon be headed for the dumpster. That's because many contact center, CRM (customer relationship management), and business intelligence vendors are eyeing performance management as the next big growth area.

At its heart, performance management is about linking people, motivation, training, and development. Defining those somewhat indefinable terms means collecting, analyzing, and using accurate data - with the emphasis on accurate. "If people understand how they are being measured and know they can trust the data, then you can begin to change their behavior. The key is to build integrity into the data. Without that, it's impossible to measure performance or performance improvement," relayed Performix Technologies CEO Cathal McGloin in a recent conversation. "Without accurate data, you set unrealistic goals. Then, employees get disappointed when they're not met."

Contact centers, which already record key employee metrics (e.g. call duration, calls handled, problems successfully resolved), are an obvious starting point for performance management. That's why many companies in this space are repositioning themselves in an attempt to capture market share. Witness Systems, NICE Systems, and Inova Corp., for example, are moving in this direction. Other contact center vendors, such as Verint Systems and Envision Telephony, are opting to partner with players already established in the performance management space. For Verint and Envision, that partner happens to be Performix. In the end, it will be end user companies that have to determine true solutions from those products that are just repackaged with slick promotions.

Set Realistic Goals, Then Monitor Results
Beyond the contact center, expect to see these solutions pitched and rolled out to companies that have to manage redundant processes. By that parameter, insurance companies and financial institutions that plow through stacks of paper using workflow processes are also a fit.

Performance management may be cloaked under a different buzzword, such as BAM (business activity monitoring), performance optimization, and workforce optimization. But, make no mistake about it, the hard sell is coming. And, if you think that your contact center is run with efficiency, then think how the rest of your organization could benefit from applying performance standards.