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Performance Metrics for Sustainable Cities: What Lies Ahead

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Editor’s Note: This article is originally published in the 22nd PERFORMANCE Magazine – Printed Edition. To get your own copy of the whole magazine, visit – TKI Marketplace –  to download the digital copy and – Amazon – for an additional printed copy.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential in assessing the performance of smart cities, which are emerging as the main drivers of economic development in several countries today. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines smart cities as “cities that leverage digitalization and engage stakeholders to improve people’s well-being and build more inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies.”

According to the paper “Smart Cities Evaluation – A Survey of Performance and Sustainability Indicators,” more than 60% of the worldwide population lives in urban areas. However, the negative impact of urbanization on the environment is increasing. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) encourage the increased use of technology to provide efficient services, high quality of life, and alternatives for strengthening environmental sustainability.

Analyzing smart city performance enables policymakers at both the national and local levels to set achievable targets, determine where cities stand on their goals, track progress, and adjust policies. The Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) cooperate to generate the Smart City Index (SCI). The study rates 118 cities from all over the globe based on inhabitants’ judgments of how technology may enhance their lives, as well as economic and social data from the UN Human Development Index. In July 2021, the report polled 120 residents in each city, totaling roughly 15,000 people.

The first three top-rated cities by IMD according to the SCI 2021 are Singapore, Zurich, and Oslo. The main aspects analyzed through SCI 2021 include priority areas that are perceived by the citizens as priorities to be improved. The second importance is based on Structures and Technologies, which are key survey data collected and organized into five categories: health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities, and governance. Each indicator under these categories displays the score for the city and a comparison with the top four.

There are five characteristics that are desirable to users based on a quality model for a smart city designed in the paper “Metrics and indicators to evaluate the degree of transformation to smart city of a city. An ad-hoc quality model:” business and energy, transport and traffic, public security, inclusion and security, education, and innovation and development. 

All these areas could be optimized through a specially developed set of metrics that can be adapted accordingly to the specific region/country. Some examples refer to: # Wi-Fi antennas, % Solar panels, # Intelligent interrelated systems, #State drones or # Intelligent garbage containers.

The Holistic Key Performance Indicators (H-KPI) Framework was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to assist municipal managers and other stakeholders engaged in governance and social development that analyze the benefits of smart city technologies. It was created to serve as a foundation for the development of measuring methods that allow for integration, adaptation, and extension across three interconnected levels of analysis: technologies, infrastructure services, and community benefits. 

Strategic planning, system design and assurance, and operations management are all applications of the H-KPI technique. According to Smart Cities Connect, five metrics are used in the H-KPI Framework: across districts and neighborhoods, KPIs are aligned with community priorities; assets that are in line with the needs of the community; effectiveness of investment; density of information flow; and infrastructure service quality and social programs. This involves a baseline assessment, a comparative study of technology options, system design, and project sequencing for strategic planning. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) elaborated on the data collection in the H-KPI method in a special publication. The NIST paper shows that the data collection goes through five phases: data source selection (define city data sources); data gathering (turning raw data into information); modeling (develop data sharing models for city data); characterization (listing smart city data and goals); and quantification (comprehensive analysis based of previous steps.

In conclusion, performance metrics play a key role in assessing the ability of cities and communities to deploy sophisticated technology efficiently and effectively as well as the reliability and efficacy of systems and strategies used in developing and running smart cities.

To level up your knowledge and understanding of performance metrics, The KPI Institute is continuously delivering quality content through online and face-to-face classes on Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner. Through this program’s intensive and organized approach to measuring performance, you will be provided with the required knowledge and training to advance your skills among other professionals.  Visit The KPI Institute’s website for further information.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Employee Turnover Rate

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The COVID-19 pandemic led to business closures and financial losses. As a result, the number of people quitting their jobs or getting laid off has increased. According to the International Labor Organization’s ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, “…there were unprecedented global employment losses in 2020 of 114 million jobs relative to 2019.” 

For organizations monitoring this labor issue, it would reflect the % Employee turnover rate, a key performance indicator (KPI) that refers to the rate at which employees leave an organization in a given period. Consequently, % Employee Turnover Rate increased due to the effects of the pandemic. The increase was sustained by Involuntary Employee Turnover, which occurs when employees are terminated from their positions.

The economy-wide closures further disrupted the employment structure for all but essential workers. This caused an increase in the disparities between industries and social classes, with the turnover being greater among women, youth, and minorities. Moreover, the impact of the pandemic on the work system has a significant variation between regions.

The most affected were the low-wage industries requiring high human interaction, such as transportation, hospitality, food service, construction, retail, and creative industries. The State of Working America report revealed that between February 2020 and February 2021, the U.S. hospitality industry registered the highest employment loss in the nation. It is the hardest-hit sector due to a large period of restricted international mobility, losing nearly 3.5 million jobs or 20.4% by the beginning of 2021.

Changing jobs or moving to another employer seemed difficult during the pandemic. However, even if movement restrictions are subsiding and life seems to get back to normal, the employee turnover remains on an ascending trend. 

Nonetheless, the job market is confronted with another challenge, and this time, it is generated by the Voluntary Employee Turnover. This type of turnover happens when an employee leaves a job mainly because they found a new job. However, the turnover can also result from promotion within the company or retirement. 

Employee Turnover in the Hospitality Industry

In the hospitality industry, a bounce-back was expected as restrictions began to be lifted, but a shortage of employees countered the previsions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of employees from the sector who quit their jobs is on an ascending trend. In March 2020, 534.000 employees quit their job in the hospitality industry. The number raised to 703.000 in March 2021, while the preliminary data for March 2022 show that 889.000 employees from the sector quit.

The situation does not seem to improve as the results of the University of Central Florida study on the state of industry employment reveal that former hospitality employees are reluctant to return to work due to the pandemic and are seeking professional opportunities in different industries.

Going through the experience of a global pandemic has shifted people’s perspective of what work should be like. Although the reasons for leaving a job are subjective to each person, the most common changes seem to be oriented towards flexibility and well-being. 

Even if employee turnover is seen as a result of poor business performance in an economy affected by restrictions or a change in priorities among employees, the effect of the pandemic is beyond doubt. It would continue to change the global work system and employee turnover. The change is characterized by the implementation of permanent remote or hybrid work policies, making job opportunities from around the world available, changing the jobs of essential workers, and even the phasing out of certain jobs due to automation.

Therefore, now organizations have to focus on employee retention. Together with employees, companies have to find ways to adapt to the new normal, reach a mutual understanding, and find a balance between employee expectations and business performance.

To overcome the impact of the pandemic on the % Employee Turnover Rate, organizations in the hospitality sector and even in other industries, especially in low-wage ones, could improve their compensation for employees. Meanwhile, employers could also go beyond the financial perspective and develop non-financial incentives by creating healthy and safe working environments, incorporating flexible working schedules and work-from-home options, and supporting employees as they pursue work-life balance. 

To ensure employee retention, organizations must improve their communication with employees to better understand their needs, keep them motivated and engaged, create the right growth opportunities, and offer them deserved recognition.

The KPI Institute’s Professional and Practitioner training courses in Employee Performance Management are designed to help professionals in designing, implementing, and monitoring performance systems that are matched with the company’s strategic goals.

Invite your colleagues and join the Certified Employee Performance Management Live Online course on 18-22 July, 2022 to strengthen knowledge and skills in managing individual and team performance. For more information, visit our website.

KPIs in Agriculture: Sustainable Practices for Farmers

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Image Source: Pexels | Tom Fisk

Agricultural practices have been continuously developing in the past years due to science and technology. However, progress comes with a cost. A 2021 study reports that food and agriculture are responsible for 25% to 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Modern agricultural systems are different compared to organic farming systems. The former uses heavily agrochemicals that increase pollution and negatively affect the underground water supplies. Most nutrients in organic agricultural systems come from biological matter additions, including manure, compost, and cover crops. These supplements feed not only the plants but also the land’s microorganisms.

Technological advancements influenced the agricultural sector as well. A method to monitor the impact of technology on the agronomical field is the use of key performance indicators (KPIs). While designed to make farming efficient, modern machines require energy use and other resources that could generate high emissions levels.

By using KPIs in the monitoring process, every farm owner will be aware of both its positive impact on the environment and the damage it may cause. FAO estimates that emissions from animal agriculture represent 14.5% of annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. By measuring the inputs and outputs, farmers can control and implicitly reduce emissions. 

According to The KPI Institute, a KPI is “a measurable expression for the achievement of a desired level of results in an area relevant to the evaluated entity’s activity.” In the agricultural sector, KPIs increase productivity and profitability, help manage daily operations, and contribute to informed business decisions.  

KPIs in Farm Management

The increase in crop yields has been attributed to modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers and technical advancements but at the expense of ecological and environmental degradation. Selective breeding and advanced animal husbandry procedures have enhanced meat output, but these methods have generated concerns regarding animal welfare and environmental pollution.

Some of the KPIs that should be considered in the agricultural sector are: 

  • # Farm size
  • % Irrigated farming land
  • # Pesticides consumption
  • $ Cost per hire
  • # On-farm trials and demonstrations
  • # Area of land cultivated
  • $ Cost of harvesting

These KPIs support the decision-making process and give an evolutionary overview of the farm. For example, monitoring the farm size over the years shows the dimensional growth of the initial placement (storage spaces, land, stables). Knowing the percentage of irrigated farming land gives insights into future costs (water supply, irrigation system). It can help approximate the time until the entire surface will be properly irrigated. Cultivated land area and costs for harvesting insights can predict future harvesting costs of a larger (or smaller) surface. Monitoring pesticide consumption indicates the level of soil degradation, water contamination, and the risks of accidentally killing beneficial insects and non-target plants. 

Meanwhile, it is important to note that each farm type has specific KPIs based on their characteristics, goals, and operations. For example, farmers on a dairy farm should consider monitoring: 

  • # Milk yield per cow
  • # Milk flow rate
  • % Dairy calves deaths under 1-month-old
  • $ Daily cow replacement cost
  • $ Concentrate cost per liter of milk produced
  • # Cows managed per person employed

Agricultural Productivity and Costs

A 2022 study affirms that through accessing finances, the U.S. agricultural sector sequestrated more carbon in 2020 compared to 2019. Overall, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased from 2019 to 2020 by 10.6%. Thanks to technological advancements and innovation, farmers and ranchers maximized their productivity while using the same quantity of inputs.

When analyzing costs, a Market Intel article highlights that chemicals and fertilizer make up the largest share of on-farm expenditures, up to 17.5%. To optimize expenses and lower the contribution to environmental degradation, the use of these materials should be reduced. 

In addition, a 2019 study concludes that effective scheduling of land preparation, plantation, and harvesting; use of early maturing crop varieties, seedbeds, and transplanting procedures for intensive land through crop rotation; selection of disease, insect, and weed control methods; and efficient irrigation and fertilizer use are all feasible measures to increase crop yield and production and revenue. 

To monitor productivity and costs, farmers can use these KPIs: 

  • # Unit production time
  • $ Energy costs per unit of production
  • # Energy used per unit of production
  • % Input waste materials
  • # Production per day

FAO describes productivity “as a ratio of a volume measure of output to a volume measure of input use.” It can be determined at any geographical scale for a singular instance (farm, commodity) or a group of farms. Most ranches produce multiple commodities with many inputs that generate costs. 

As previously said, advanced technological solutions that enhance productivity without increasing costs have emerged on the market. If the farmer does not have the finances to invest in these technologies, another solution would be to decrease the commodities types and increase the quantity and quality of produced items. This way, the brand focuses on a few product types, gains customers, and increases sales. While constantly developing a customer base, the commodities price could be adjusted to increase profit.

To acquire an in-depth understanding of KPI measurement challenges and ways to address them, join The KPI Institute’s certification program in KPI measurement. The KPI Institute provides toolkits, templates, case studies, and good practice examples from some of the world’s most successful firms, as well as thought-provoking exercises. Enrolled participants will also get free access to the smartKPIs.com premium content, the world’s largest library of documented KPIs.

The Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner course is available online and via face-to-face class in some regions. Read the full details and sign up here!

How Data Analytics Can Improve Company Performance

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Image Source: fauxels | Pexels

The business intelligence and analytics industry reached over $ 19 billion globally in 2020, albeit the derailed economic performance caused by the pandemic.  The business intelligence market growth experienced a 5.2% increase, and the data analytic growth rate is expected to rise in the coming years as companies realize the need to manage data to make better decisions.

According to Angela Ahrendts, a former retail Vice President at Apple Inc., customer data is the most significant differentiator among businesses in this era. Companies that know how to maneuver heaps of data to create strategic moves usually succeed. To determine how companies adopt and implement data analytics, let’s first understand how data can make a company’s operations efficient. 

Data Analytics: Four Ways to Increase Company Performance

As discussed earlier, data analytics is beneficial for making more accurate business decisions. Managers and executives can take action on the data insights they get to drive better competitive advantages in their markets. There are four ways data analytics can accelerate business performance:

The first way is by creating informed decisions. One of the key benefits that businesses look out for when dealing with data analytic solutions is developing better and more accurate decisions from the insights they get from analyzing data. 

There are two processes that ensure the development of better decisions: predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. Prescriptive analytics are utilized to project the way companies react to forecasted trends, whereas predictive analytics focus on events that might occur after analyzing collected data.

Improving efficiency is another route. Data analytics is highly beneficial especially in the operation management for streamlining operations. For example, companies can retrieve and assess their data relating to supply chains to discover where delays in their supply networks happen or to forecast areas where problems emerge and use these insights to prevent any issues.

Data analytics also enables risk mitigation. To cut down losses, data can be utilized to reduce physical and financial risks in business. Through collecting and assessing data, inefficiencies can be either identified or predicted. Also, potential risks are revealed to inform management on creating preventive policies. 

Lastly, data analytics enhances security. As many businesses confront numerous data security threats in today’s era, it is essential to keep the company’s cybersecurity out of dangerous attacks that cause financial or brand image blow. A company can evaluate, process, and draw insights from its audit logs to showcase the source of previous cyber breaches. The outcome of this exercise would be to recommend possible remedies to the problem.

Join The KPI Institute’scertification course on data analysis today to learn more about data analytics, improve your analytical skills and make wise business decisions.

Up the Career Ladder or Across It?

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Horizontal progression or lattices started to spread among employees, particularly millennials, years ago. Many individuals are working to progress their career paths horizontally instead of vertically. This raises two important questions: Is it better to move up the ladder or across it? Is it better for the companies to hire those who progress vertically or horizontally? 

Vertical career progression refers to usual career growth within the same field. Being promoted from a marketing executive to a senior marketing specialist, and then to a marketing manager is an example of that progression. As for horizontal career progression, it refers to growing skills in more than one field. For instance, an individual may start working as a marketing executive, and then decide to shift to the sales department to gain more experience in selling products and dealing with customers.

Vertical career progression has always been the common career path in the workplace across the industries. However, change has been going on at a fast pace. All types of organizations (profit, non-profit, public and private) are all experiencing quick changes in various areas. Especially after the pandemic, things have developed massively, and new skills and competencies are arising everyday in the workplace, particularly in companies working on creating innovative and agile environments. 

Benefits of Horizontal and Vertical Career Progression

Both types of career progression are essential and beneficial in the workplace as they will enable managers and leaders to have a wide range of skills within one department. With organizations reducing their boundaries every day due to the changes occurringmanagers, leaders, and recruiters need to look at career progression from a different point of view other than the traditional one. 

Employees going up the ladder will benefit their departments with their long experience and in-depth knowledge in terms of delivering their projects or tasks on time and with high quality. Even when they deal with their clients, they will be able to reflect easily using their long experience in the field. Moreover, they will be able to transfer their experience and knowledge to the younger ones via coaching, feedback sessions, and on-the-job learning.

Due to the wide range of skills, employees moving across the ladder are also vital and  bring a positive impact to their departments. Despite their short experience within one field, they are equipped with a set of skills that will be beneficial to various situations. For instance, an employee who spends some time in the marketing and the sales department will have some experience not only in promoting the company’s products but also in communicating with the customers.

The marketing department can benefit from such employees in enhancing their customer outreach and passing on knowledge to others through tips or advice in communicating with customers. This can be valuable in companies trying to embed agility within their cultures. Most common types of agile environments include scrum and lean. These types of environments require flexibility, continuous problem solving and discovering solutions. As a result, both types of employees will provide lots of ideas and solutions. They will look at problems from different angles. 

How Companies Support Employees’ Career Progression

According to Deloitte, due to today’s flatter organizational structures, businesses have less options for developing their employees and moving their career up the ladder. So, lattice organizations are expanding career tracks to incorporate lateral, diagonal, and planned descents as a strategy to help employees progress. They report that employees become more adaptable through career movements across organizational silos, improving their strategic flexibility.

Incorporating different options of career development will require companies to change the way their job structures, work cultures, and career development plans. However, companies will reap its sweet fruit through having more motivated and productive employees, innovative culture, better performance, as well as more flexibility and adaptability. Moreover, it will help companies face their current challenges such as high turnover rates and employees with limited skills that cannot balance the needs of today’s industry.

In the end, it is believed that even with all these changes undergoing in the world, both career paths are needed within the workplace. Employees get to choose the career path that suits  their priorities and future plans. But at the same time, their choices have to be well planned and thought of because there is a huge difference between growing horizontally in a structured manner and hopping from one job to another. In the same context , companies need to go beyond the traditional linear career path and embrace other ones to be able to come up with the changes going on.

Whether you go up or across the ladder in choosing a career growth, it is important to be competent. Invite your colleagues and join The KPI Institute’s Certified Performance Management Professional course to boost the knowledge and skills on improving performance at all organizational levels. Visit The KPI Institute’s website for more information.

   

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