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Management Performance Benchmarks

Publication date: 12/2007

Executive Summary

Executive summary

Browse the shelves of any well-stocked bookstore and you'll find dozens of books that promise to identify the one or two essential qualities of great managers, from the clock-watching skills of the legendary One-Minute Manager to the take-no-hostages approach of Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. Incentive plans often send equally confusing messages: We know of one large software company (long since swallowed up by a competitor) that awarded bonuses based on no less than 17 individually-weighted and conflicting performance metrics. With so many misaligned notions of "good management performance," it s not surprising that many managers feel clueless about which goals and priorities they should most actively pursue.

The message is even more bewildering for the people who manage support operations. In many companies, their departments have become major profit centers, but top management keeps insisting on the primacy of cost-cutting efforts. Invest in building a loyal installed base, they re told, but also see if you can squeeze more dollars into next quarter s revenue report. And if a manager does turn support and services turn into a high-growth cash cow, chances are the CEO will drop by and warn that "Wall Street doesn t like companies with too much services income."

To be sure, sorting out conflicting priorities is something managers are supposed to do well (on top of everything else they re supposed to do well), and certainly not all companies have the same goals. But we thought it might be helpful to look for a consensus view about what managers feel are the critical performance measures and priorities for their jobs. We surveyed 136 support and service managers from a broad range of software and technology companies, asking them to measure two variables
  • their "perception of the level of importance" that their company assigns
    to each of ten aspects of management performance, and
  • their "personal effectiveness" in each of these areas.
  • This report identifies and ranks these ten areas in terms of their relative importance to senior management, and compares the average "effectiveness" score for each one. As part of the analysis, the report identifies the gap between effectiveness and importance, and also breaks out the response data by level of authority (VP/Director vs. Manager/Supervisor) and support organization size.

    Copies of the survey are free to ASP members in the members-only area.

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    Copies of the survey are free to ASP members in the members-only area.

    Join the ASP | ASP membership info