As a first step in isolating a programs impact on performance, all key factors that may have contributed to the performance improvement should be identified. This step communicates to interested parties that other factors may have influenced the results, underscoring that the program is not the sole source of improvement. Consequently, the credit for improvement is shared with several possible variables and factorsan approach that is likely to gain the respect of the client.
Several potential sources are available to identify influencing variables. If the program is implemented on the request of a sponsor, then the sponsor may identify other initiatives or factors that might influence the output variable. Participants are usually aware of other influences that may have caused performance improvement. After all, the impacts of their collective efforts are being monitored and measured. In many situations, they have witnessed previous movements in the performance measures and can pinpoint reasons for changes.
The program implementation team is another source for identifying variables that affect results. Although the needs analysis will sometimes uncover these influencing variables, designers, developers, and facilitators may be able to identify the other factors while implementing the program.
In some situations, the immediate managers of participants may be able to identify variables that influence the business impact measure. This is particularly useful when participants are nonexempt employees who may not be fully aware of the other variables that can influence performance.
Subject matter experts may identify other factors. These are the experts involved in the content of the program. They often analyze the need for the program, help design a specific solution, or provide specifications for implementation. They are knowledgeable about these issues, and their expertise may be helpful in identifying the other factors that could affect the program.
Other process owners may be able to provide input, as well. For most situations, other processes are adding value. Could it be technology, restructuring, job design, new processes, quality initiatives, re-engineering, transformation, or change management? These are all likely processes inside an organization, and the owners of these processes will know whether their processes are in place or have been implemented during this same time period.
Finally, in the area in which the program is implemented, middle and top management may be able to identify other influences. Perhaps they have monitored, examined, and analyzed the variables previously. The authority of these individuals often increases the datas credibility.
Taking the time to focus attention on factors and variables that may have influenced performance brings additional accuracy and credibility to the process. It moves beyond presenting results with no mention of other influencesan approach that often destroys credibility. It also provides a foundation for some of the techniques described in this book by identifying the variables that must be isolated to show the effects of a program.
Note: This book is excerpted from 10 Steps to Successful Business Alignment by Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack J. Phillips.