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Escendency is a web based SMART (strategy mapping and reporting technology) system that comprises a series of clearly defined visual objects, not unlike electronic Lego™, that can be used to visually monitor performance in many ways.

All organisations share the same code but own their own two databases (one training and one live) on a remote Windows 2003 Server. The code has been designed to be extremely flexible to allow creation of management systems that can reflect the need of practically any organisation, any part of any organisation and/or multiple organisations working to a common vision.

The Escendency system allows three core performance areas to be defined, assigned, measured and reported. These are performance targeting, action planning and assessments. These in turn are described by seven key objects with many editable properties that can be created by the organisation. All key objects can be interrelated.

The two objects essential for each core area, in order of implementation, are:

  1. Organisation Chart. Even the simplest organisation chart must contain the posts that define the principle role of each user using the system so that tasks, responsibilities and access levels associated with any or all of the performance areas can be assigned.
  2. Users. Users are assigned to a specific post in the organisation chart with organisation specific responsibilities and access levels for the three core performance areas, as needed, and their many reporting strategies.

  3. For performance target setting the following three objects are essential:

  4. Strategy map. An organisation can create a pictorial map to represent any part of their corporate, community, and/or partnership strategies. At the top of the strategy map is the organisation’s vision that ultimately sums up the contributions from a series of measurable performance targets. Essential for performance target setting though useful too for the other performance areas the strategy map can be as simple as one object (e.g. a ‘vision’) containing a ‘bucket’ of measurable objects (‘targets’) or as complex as a multilayered tree with many levels of objectives, aims, and target types spanning many organisations.*
  5. Performance indicators. These are the definitions of how a target is to be measured and are used to link a performance target to a measurable part of the strategy map. Indicators are defined by either a simple measurement or an equation and in the latter case may also include other indicators. Any number of performance indicator types can be set up (for example, national, corporate, local), and can be defined in a variety of ways (cumulative, average, snapshot; percentage, decimal, date, yes/no; annual, monthly, weekly etc; high is good, low is good, target is in a range).
  6. Performance target. Targets are the value a specific performance indicator is required to meet in a given span of time. Responsibilities for ownership, measurement, reporting and validation are assigned to one or more user posts. Targets are assigned a relative contribution to the organisation’s vision (default is zero) that at any time and in any place in the strategy map is calculated from all the related target’s performance scores.
  7. The other two core performance area’s key objects are:

  8. Action plans. These comprise action plan tasks that provide a framework of actions that an organisation has identified that need to be completed in order to reach specific performance targets or to correct poor performance (proactive or reactive respectively). Action plans can be nested and related to any part of the system. Each action plan has an owner post. Each action plan task has an accepting (and completing) and approving post. Although action plans can be used in some cases in isolation to achieve an organisation’s objectives (i.e. without performance targets) it is considered poor practice to use performance targets without related action plans.
  9. Assessment Projects. These are qualitative reports ultimately based on assessment types (e.g. customer satisfaction surveys, human resource assessments, environmental impact, risk assessment etc) comprising one or more categories (e.g. different attainment levels for each type) that are defined by checklist questionnaires. Assessment projects have an assessor and validator post.

These objects are graphically displayed using a traffic light system in a control panel comprising a dashboard that is completely customisable for each user’s needs, a set of tabs that displays information relevant to the current user including tasks, targets, action plans, staff and, of course, reports and allows access to a tool menu that is organisation wide in scope.

The basic set up procedure that Escendency recommends is to first set up a relevant organisation chart with posts followed by set up of user accounts to assign to those posts. These two steps are then usually, but not always, followed with a relevant strategy map (whether flat with just one main node or complex). The next stage depends on which of the three performance areas you wish to focus on (performance targeting, action planning, or assessments).

* Although it is not essential to use a strategy map unless measuring performance targets many organisations find it helpful to do so. Also, an organisation does not need to have a complete strategy worked out as any complexity can be added later without affecting performance.