What is it that causes a company to achieve greatness and successfully engage its stakeholders? Is it a ‘eureka’ moment, a stroke of good luck or a steady, systematic commitment to perfecting processes and performance?
Shilpa Ajit, Executive Assistant to the CEO & Information Analyst, and Emmanuel Enopia, Senior Quality Systems Specialist, who are heading the BMMI Winning KPIs project, would argue that it is the latter. Initiated by a drive to re-engineer business processes by BMMI President & CEO, Gordon Boyle, and inspired by Jim Collin’s ‘Good to Great’ book, Emmanuel and Shilpa’s passion for seeing things done right drove them to help this project see light.
“Jim Collins talks about how in all dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, there was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic and committed-to-excellence processes framework kept each company, its leaders and its people on track for the long haul. In each case, it was the victory of steadfast discipline over the quick fix – and we totally agree with that,” said Shilpa. “As BMMI continues to strive to achieve even greater things, it’s important for us to focus on our foundation. Change has to happen in small pockets all over the business and that’s how you start building and sustaining real achievement and stakeholder engagement,” she added.
Under Gordon’s direction early last year, the duo started to look at the state of the organisation’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how they were being used. Why KPIs? Well, according to Shilpa, it was one of the best ways to assess the health of the business.
“It’s as simple as when you go the doctor - the first thing they do is check your vitals, right? Why do they do that?” said Shilpa. “It’s because if your vitals are not okay, it’s an indication that something is wrong, and this is the same approach to KPIs in a company.”
To begin the process, Shilpa and Emmanuel brought together a project team consisting of representatives from each business unit. “We then made sure to sit down with each of them and look in-depth into their division’s KPIs,” said Emmanuel. With the help of KPI Champions from across the business, Emmanuel and Shilpa were able to understand more about each division, how it operates, what it wants to achieve and whether its KPIs were helping or hindering it from reaching its goals.
What they found was that there was often a disconnect between what the division wants to achieve and what KPIs were being measured, something that they found surprising. It turned out that many of the KPIs that were being measured were set a long time ago, at the time, helping the company achieve the success it has today. Yet, upon further examination, a number of them seemed to be redundant in respect to business today, and some of the KPIs that would have a bigger impact at the present, were not necessarily always monitored or assessed in a systematic way.
“It was an eye-opener. It was the time for us to confront our reality, to focus on what is vital—and to eliminate all extraneous distractions,” said Shilpa. “What it comes down to is all about disciplined people, disciplined thought and most importantly, at least in my view, disciplined action.”
To find this discipline, and by tapping the extensive knowledge of the KPI Champions, the teams were able to try and void the disconnect they saw, making sure that everything is relevant and everyone understands how their KPIs contribute to the Group’s collective success. Shilpa and Emmanuel utilised the ‘performance prism’ approach, an outside-in model, where a company first begins by asking itself who their stakeholders are and what they need to feel satisfied, before moving towards creating a strategy, examining process and capabilities and assessing what the stakeholders contribute towards the business.
With BMMI’s diverse businesses and a presence in 11 countries, the duo wanted to begin by creating common KPIs for the Group, in order to further cohesion and create a clearer big picture. As a start, these KPIs focused on something that relates to all divisions: financials. These financial KPIs were drilled down to measure growth, but were approached in a detailed and systematic way, looking not only at gross profit, but also stock availability and waste, productivity, customer satisfaction and other aspects that contribute to financial health.
With updated KPIs set, each department now sends a report of their achievements to Emmanuel and Shilpa each month, who use these as indicators to assess the ‘Operational Excellence Score’ of each business, which gives an overall look at how well they are doing in relation to their KPIs. These scores are then combined in a consolidated report that is sent to BMMI’s Senior Leadership Group to keep them informed of how each division is performing. A more detailed departmental report is sent to each respective manager, where they can see how every part of the business they are responsible for is doing.
This journey presented a learning curve for everyone involved. “This was definitely a great step in the right direction,” said Suttish Boodoo, Vice President of Integrated Management Systems, Administration & Security. “We learned a lot about how to improve our KPIs and make sure that they are a mix of strategic and operational ones. It also helped us be more accountable as managers across the Group, clearly seeing what we are responsible to achieve and what KPIs we should truly focus on,” Suttish added.
While the project is still young, both Emmanuel and Shilpa see a bright future for it in the company and are hoping for great results as an outcome. “It is an ongoing process where we continually need to refine the identified winning KPIs to maintain their relevance,” said Emmanuel. “We have a long way to go, but the project is gaining momentum and managers across the business can now truly see the value of it, because at the end of the day, as they say, ‘what gets measured, gets done’ and ‘we need to know the score to win!’”
As the project matures, the duo is looking towards adding even more to the reports, with more emphasis on analysing the performance, approach, and upward versus downward trends based on the KPIs. And as it did at the beginning of their journey, it’s their passion that remains a driving force behind pushing the boundaries with the Winning KPIs project.
“For me, when I look at the results at the end of every month, it’s almost like I feel an emotional connection to them because I care a lot about the organisation and how we do,” said Shilpa. “Any little contribution that I can make to get the people there is extremely important to me,” she added.
This is also what keeps Emmanuel excited about the project and its outcomes. “I’m passionate about continual improvement and if the project helps us to achieve better and greater things, I find it to be something very meaningful, especially when you become a part of achieving these goals,” he said.
Shilpa and Emmanuel both acknowledge that one of the truly remarkable things about this experience is the spirit of collaboration across the Group. The support of employees from different roles, locations and divisions is what ensured a successful launch to the project. Without the willingness to improve, the openness to change and transparency from all partners involved, the Winning KPIs project simply would not have any impact. It’s thanks to the contribution and involvement from employees across the Group that this project can truly make a difference and BMMI can continue on its journey from ‘good to great’.