Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am a big believer in using performance management to communicate and integrate strategy. Organizations that can translate their strategy into the key measures that define its sucess have greater understanding and buy in from their employees and stakeholders and are more likely to achieve their objectives through this focus. Performance management became a hot topic in many enterprises in the 90s, when Kaplan and Norton rolled out articles, books and training on their Balanced Scorecard framework and approach. IT organizations jumped on the bandwagon a few years later with their own scorecards and performance management systems. Since then, I have advised many IT organizations on how to develop and implement scorecards and performance management.

In the last year, though, fewer IT organizations are talking about developing or refining their performance management systems. Some that have scorecards in place are continuing to gather the data, but are not using them strategically. I get the sense that leadership considers performance management an extravagance these days, something that must be put aside for another time when we are not consumed with layoffs, budget cuts, project cancellations and spending freezes. Now is not the time to be strategic, now is the time to buckle down, operate as lean as possible and just keep the lights on, right?

Wrong. The timing could not be better. Now is the time to be more strategic than ever; strategic meaning focused, clear, aligned around a common purpose. And there’s no better way to get alignment within an IT organization and with internal customers than through good performance management. Some organizations have performance management systems or IT scorecards in place. A few are actually even using them for decision making and communication. It is time to create them, resurrect them or refocus them, towards the objectives required to weather this storm and land on solid ground.

I have a lot of opinions on this topic and could probably write a long article or short book, but for now, I am going to publish a series of blogs addressing how organizations should be thinking about performance management today. Stay tuned.