When Implementing a New Program, Start Small, but Think Big

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

[sm_smlts_dropcap type=”rounded-with-ring” color=”pink”]M[/sm_smlts_dropcap]any organizations seem to have a problem getting started with performance improvement programs, initiatives, and projects including embracing business analytics. Is it analysis paralysis or brain freeze or just resistance to change? Why do they not know how to get started? Maybe they are easily distracted.

Distraction Due to Increased Worldwide Volatility

There is no doubt that volatility is on the rise, and it results in distractions to an organization. Examples of volatility include changes in consumer preferences, foreign currency exchange rates, commodity prices, etc.

New trends contributing to volatility can develop quickly, such as oil dependence, emergence of country economies such as India and Brazil and instantaneous, Internet-based global communications.

Unanticipated shocks can come from occurrences like the Asian tsunami, H1N1 virus outbreak, global economy crisis, Euro currency shocks, the civil unrest in North African Arab countries, and more recently the uncertainties of the new policies and programs from the USA from its imminent Presidency of Donald Trump. The Internet, global communications, social networks and relaxation of international trade barriers has introduced big, sine wave vibrations and turbulence compared to relatively smooth rises and falls of the past decades.

But is increased worldwide volatility reason enough to not adopt or at least test modern managerial methods including embracing advanced analytics?

Speed to Results

I am big fan of rapid prototyping with iterative re-modeling. Executives and managers learn faster through “doing” than from “training.” Rapid prototyping and pilots are quick ways to gain buy-in from executives and managers, including skeptical ones. Accelerated learning comes in large part because the participants immediately relate to their own organization and its issues and goals. They better understand the problem they want to solve or the opportunity they want to seize. Rapid prototyping helps assure eventual success, gain lessons, and prevent pitfalls.

Rapid prototyping and pilots allow participants to recognize in advance what obstructive issues will likely prevail when proceeding with the next iterations. Meaningful discussions and even debates can follow. With rapid prototyping and pilots you make your mistakes early and often rather than later when a system is more difficult to re-design or change.

After a quickly constructed model or test is complete then the lessons learned can be consolidated. Newly identified risks to a successful implementation can be mitigated. This technique also applies to enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) methods like strategy maps, balanced scorecards, channel and customer profitability analysis (using activity-based costing [ABC]), lean management, and capacity-sensitive driver-based budgeting and rolling financial forecasts.

There is Usually No Standard Road Map

By using Pareto’s 80/20 rule and a “ready-fire-aim” approach project teams can get a much earlier sense for what their complete system or analytical methods will look like. This can help them determine which alternative plans might be more effective to implement a complete permanent, repeatable, and reliable.

Many organizations over-plan and under-execute. However, there usually is no single standard roadmap to implement a program or project. Getting to the destination is the goal, so it is better to be flexible. Start small. Think big.

About the author:

Gary Cokins, CPIM

Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS industrial engineering/operations research) 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC www.garycokins.com.  He began his career in industry with a Fortune 100 company in CFO and operations roles. Then 15 years in consulting with Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS (now part of HP). From 1997 until 2013 Gary was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a business analytics software vendor. His most recent books are Performance Management: Integrating Strategy Execution, Methodologies, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics

An article “Why Is Solitude the Secret to Eneterprise Performance Management (EPM)? by Gary Cokins was published on our website in September 5, 2016.

You can contact him at gcokins@garycokins.com. For more of Cokins’ unique look at the world, visit his website at www.garycokins.com. View Gary’s full profile at Linkedin.


Performance Management by Gary Cokins – IMA Strategic Finance Book Review

This article was first published on November 10, 2016 in September 2, 2016 in Business Finance and has been reproduced here with permission from the author. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.


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