Quality and performance

Introduction

The selection of the appropriate model is dependent on whether there is more focus on the performance management of individuals or as an organisation, as well as quantitative or qualitative indicators and measures are keys to make an effective assessment. One of the listed models, Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Score Card approach reviews an organisational performance from four perspectives:

  • Financial,
  • Customer,
  • Internal Business Process and
  • Learning and Growth.

Within these areas, Kaplan and Norton provide a number of suggestions for quantitative measures to assess organisational performance.

Financial

The financial area is split into three parts;

  • Revenue Growth (Sales and market share, Number of new customers and markets, Number of new strategies),
  • Cost Management (Revenue per employee, Unit cost reduction,) and
  • Asset Utilisation (Inventory reduction, Cash-to-cash cycle, Return on capital, Productivity/Efficiency. )

Customer

Kaplan and Norton suggest that organisations must first identify the market segment that they aim to supply. For each segment, they must focus whether the type of measure that they implement fits the characteristics of the business.

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Internal Business Processes

Kaplan and Norton acknowledge that, although improvements in internal business processes do not have any bearing on the management of business at the strategic level, they do contribute towards noticeable improvements in business in the long term. Learning and Growth The learning and growth area is concerned with infrastructure, i. e. the foundations required to achieve objectives in other areas of the business. These areas provide an indication of the degree to which the balanced scorecard broadens the scope of performance measurement.

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These ranges from traditional methods such as earnings per share to more applicable forms such as organisational strategy, goals and objectives. Kaplan and Norton believe that the Balance Scorecard’s enduring contribution to measuring and managing performance lies in the concise, holistic picture of the organisation that it provides. Through gathering input from many different sources, it is possible to develop a detailed map of the interconnections and interactions that occur between different areas of the organisation.

For the purpose of the performance review meeting conducted within context of the Business and Management Module, the most appropriate performance management technique to be applied is Management by Objectives (MBO). Although, as it will be evident from further analysis, this approach does not provide a solution to the problems encountered during the exercise. The application of MBO was determined by its core concept of managing individual performance which was the main task of the group exercise.

An MBO system comprises of the following set of components, use of which will be evaluated through our group exercise:

  1. Development of role & mission statement Basically this activity must be treated as crucial as it determines the whole performance process. Our performance management exercise has already been assigned with the meaning and mission. It should be noted however, that role and mission must be developed within or with participants of the performance management to ensure a clear understanding as well as its purpose and overall implication for the processes. This will enable us to establish a mutual thinking in the process and compliance to the mission of the performance management by all concerned.
  2. Establishing strategic goals/strategic plan and defining key results areas The same approach as above should be applied to this component of the performance management to ensure that those responsible for results are aware of the overall goals and strategy. It is noted from empirical studies that many organisations fail to communicate strategic goals and thus contribute towards performance failure.
  3. Establishing indicators or effectiveness, goals, or organizational objectives. This was one of the vague areas of our exercise since no clear boundaries have been established on performance indicators and no knowledge was available on interpretation of overall indicators e. g. Personal Time was developed as a sum of personal and social time which was unknown to participants when group meeting took place. Another problem arose due to the lack of knowledge of the time basis, i. e. whether 24 hours were the basis for time allocation with time to be allocated for sleeping or whether another approach was taken in the calculation. This uncertainty has led to confusion among meeting members and further clarification has been sought. This in turn has led to lost unproductive time during the meeting. Nevertheless, this area is bound to be doubtful and difficult to understand as the development of Performance Indicators (PI) required thorough analysis of activities and understanding of their implications on the overall performance. Therefore, this clarification effort has provided meeting members with good understanding of provided KPIs. However, as outlined before, management should seek to develop performance indicators to ensure that understanding is developed between employees.
  4. Establishing, or negotiating individual employee objectives The main purpose of the meeting was to negotiate and establish objectives for group members to ensure high productivity. After careful examination of performance indicators and comparison of the past performance of the groups, meeting participants have successfully analysed the most important factors of productivity which will yield high results in the future. During this session benchmarking was widely used to determine a role model for the performance standards. During the negotiation process, the weighting of the indicators have been performed in order to allocate reasonable and realistic time for activities.
  5. Establishing performance standards for each objective The benchmarking and historical performance was widely used to establish standards for each objective. Along with these methods there were other factors which influenced the introduction of standards. These would qualify as factors of meeting dynamics such as politics and power use. In contrast to previous meetings, politics and power were not been so apparent, however did exist and thus influenced decisions on performance standards selection.
  6. Action planning for each employee After the meeting the group manager for the day (managerial duties were rotated every day) analysed the past performance with new set of standards with group members. Therefore we were able to develop a mutually agreed set of performance indicators’ level to ensure high productivity. It was very valuable to conduct such a session with group members since it contributed to our overall understanding of the performance indicators and new standards set by group members. Due to this a comprehensive action plan was developed. During this stage an appraisal of past results occurred in the group. The issue would appear to be a sensitive one. However, the honest feedback and analysis of individual performance and high commitment from each individual to reach set objectives have helped to conduct fair review to the satisfaction of all group members.
  7. Periodic measurement and assessment of status of each objective/standard This activity wasn’t available to our group members due to the limit of time frame of the exercise. However, after our discussion it was agreed that this is a good mechanism to evaluate our individual performance for future activities. 8. Coaching/training to remediate deficits This activity was applied by the group leader to explain the weak area of individual performance. There were a number of constraints exposed on the manager to coach individuals.

These included lack of knowledge on previous performance, therefore the inability to create valuable feedback. In addition to this, it was difficult to implement a coaching and training environment due to the fact that the activity was perceived as a game and thus coaching seemed artificial. In real life performance management this is one of the most difficult tasks as a manager because he/she faces different backgrounds, personalities, cultures and thus should poses excellent people skills in order to provide feedback to employees.

The above sequence of steps are MBO components which were the most applicable to our performance management and appraisal of results exercise. Different writers use different terminologies, or add, subtract or modify the sequence of steps. Some systems, for example, include the writing and maintenance of job descriptions, some do not do so explicitly. Within an MBO system the performance management process pertains to the management of individuals, beginning with the assignment of individual objectives through to the final, formal assessment process.

Successful Implementation – Project Management

Project management can be described as the bringing together of individuals and groups to form a single, cohesive team working towards a common goal. (Nicholas 2001) The four yardsticks (Stewart) to determine whether an undertaking requires project management are; Scope: Project management can be applied to a one-time undertaking that is definable in terms of a single, specific end result and bigger than the organization has previously undertaken successfully.

A project must, by definition, end at an objective point in time, e. g.the handing in of an assignment, the date the new plant achieves full production. This project has four different parts to it, which are somewhat related and the scope is too big for one person or an unfocussed group.

  • Unfamiliarity: According to Merendith (1995) an undertaking is not a project unless it is a unique, or infrequent, effort by the existing management group. Lack of familiarity or precedence usually leads to disagreement or uncertainty as to how the undertaking should be managed. All assignments by students fall into this category because most of them are new and therefore unfamiliar.
  • Complexity: Frequently the decisive criterion of a project is the degree of interdependence among tasks. If a given task depends on the completion of other assignments in other functional areas, and if it will in turn, affect the cost or timing of subsequent tasks project management is then called for. If no one person can produce a detailed plan on which all those concerned can agree, if estimates repeatedly fail to withstand scrutiny, or if plans submitted by different departments prove difficult to reconcile or coordinate, then the critical mass of a project has been reached.

The complexity of this particular assignment derives from the issue of group-based principle. Each group member does his/her own part, which makes it hard to reconcile the different parts of the assignment and make it one. Stake: A final criterion that may favour project management is the company’s stake in the outcome of the undertaking. If failure to complete the job on schedule or within the budget entails serious penalties, then it would be advisable to use project management.

Project manager

A project manager can be defined as a person with the overall responsibility for completing the project successfully.

Perhaps a more apt description is the one given by McManus (1997) which describes a project manager as a person who is concerned with creating wealth through the optimisation and management of all organisational resources. Another definition is by Nicholas (2001) where a project manager is described as a person whose single, overriding responsibility is to plan, direct and integrate the work efforts of participants to achieve project goals. The responsibilities of project managers can be classified into three categories (Harold Kerzner); interface management, resource management and planning and control management.

Managing Project Interfaces

Projects are, by definition, composed of several multidisciplinary tasks. The project manager must coordinate and integrate the activities of many contributors from a variety of functions. His prime responsibility is to ensure that the project is organized so that all components, parts, subsystems, functional units, and people fit together as an integrated whole according to the plan. Accomplishing this task requires managing all the interfaces that arise among personnel, organizations, and systems.

The main task for the project at hand was to ensure that the work of the various individual was well coordinated and that it was delivered at the right time. Ensure also that each piece of individual work meets the set group standards. Only careful interface management can successfully integrate so many diverse functional groups. Good human resource skills are vital. Good communication is the primary tool for managing project interfaces. The project manager must develop communications channels that are appropriate for the particular project.

However, informal links almost always occur between all groups. The communication channels established were both formal and informal with a number of meetings scheduled to analyze and integrate the work of the various individuals. Establishing and maintaining communication links may be the most difficult function for a project manager. They require people-handling skills that increase in complexity with project size and scope. Most project managers spend at least half their time obtaining, clarifying, and transferring information, delegating activities, and resolving conflicts.

The project manager is the only person always in a position to manage and expedite communication links and eliminate communications barriers. The project manager had to keep in constant communication with all the different members, ensure attendance of meetings and also make sure there was communication between the different members. He was responsible for ensuring that each member had the right and up-to-date information on what the others were doing.

Adjusting, Allocating Resources

Resource management, the function most commonly associated with project managers, is primarily a technical role.

The three primary constraints on a project are cost, duration and quality of the completed project. Any of the three constraints is adjusted by modifying either one or both of the remaining variables or the resources available. The project manager is responsible for making appropriate adjustments. For this project, duration refers to the time available to submission of the project, quality of the work is the other constrains and cost can be equated to the amount of time and resources each member and the whole group are putting in to the project. Managing resources begins with conceptual planning to define what resources are required.

Most projects do not receive unlimited resource allotments. Therefore, the project manager must allocate the available resources. The allocation of the resources/ task was done at the beginning of the project, at this stage the quality of the work was determined and each member was therefore required to submit work that measure up. The date when the work was expected was also determined, as was the number of meetings the group was to have. The project manager also is responsible for planning the project in an effective way. This includes determining resource needs. These needs must be defined in sufficient quantities to support the project.

Contingencies need to be included, but should not be larger than prudently required. The purpose is to define a workable plan with a realistic budget. Inflated or overstated contingencies only serve to kill a viable project.

Planning and Controlling Efforts

Planning and control management is the actual project implementation process. The project manager’s responsibility here is to ensure the project is completed on time as efficiently and effectively as possible. Tasks that fall into this area include managing conflict and seeking project improvements. Both human resource and technical skills are needed to perform this role.

Kerzner describes project managers as conflict managers. Although they certainly should not be constantly fighting fires, conflicts are bound to occur when resources are drawn from departments and organizations that have different goals and objectives. The conflicts that occurred only related to the actual work and what direction to take. This was due to each member taking a part of the project. The conflicts were resolved by having group meetings to decide what was acceptable. The manager had the coordination and facilitation role in these meetings. Priorities must be set to resolve or prevent conflicts.

The needs of the project must be ranked with, and weighed against, overall company or organizational needs. The priorities for using project resources are determined by the project manager. In the project environment, these priorities must be handled in a way that promotes the integration of activities. Striving to improve project performance is a role that most managers enjoy. Creativity can be applied to move up the date for completing the project or improve the quality of the effort. The project manager should always be on the lookout for new techniques, products, and technology that enhance quality and performance.

Improving productivity requires observing and analyzing current performance. Progress reports form the basis for measuring current performance, but for identifying possible improvements, observation and discussions with project personnel are better. A project manager more accurately ascertains project performance and morale by spending time with the project staff. The project manager’s diverse roles require a combination of human resource and technical skills similar to those necessary for general management. The well-rounded, well-prepared project manager directs people and technical processes equally well.

Cite this page

Quality and performance. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/quality-and-performance-13848-new-essay

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