The Management Forum last December, with its dual themes of Transformation and Governance was an entirely appropriate event for the HMI to showcase APEX Tracker, the HMI’s new performance management software. Many areas of focus during the forum – the importance of continuous measurement, the introduction of performance contracts and the pressures of increasing paperwork – were the reasons why the system was originally developed.
APEX Tracker was developed specifically for use in the health services in Ireland, although it is intended that it will be adopted internationally. During its development, it became obvious that the system had the potential to go far beyond being a static data recording mechanism. It could be used as an everyday tool to plan, monitor and control a myriad of performance goals across the organisation.
Speaking at the launch, Denis Doherty, HMI President explained: “The Health Management Institute of Ireland developed the system as a response to its members need for a system which is tailored to their specific context and which focuses on the dynamics of work performance as well as data collection…”
There are three key features which distinguish APEX Tracker from other performance software systems currently in use in the Irish Health Services. Firstly, the other systems, which focus exclusively on numeric goals when, in reality, there are just as many non-numeric goals in managing healthcare. Denis Doherty stressed the importance of this feature when he said: “The vital feature of APEX Tracker is that it captures the ‘how’ things are going to happen in addition to ‘what’ needs to achieved.” APEX Tracker enables managers to set goals for the introduction of a service, the elimination of some risk or the completion of training.
The second standout feature of APEX Tracker is that it is user-managed as opposed to most other systems which are centralised. This feature is crucially important in terms of relevancy of data and the immediacy of the outcomes. Users develop their own plans based on a corporate scorecard or template. They are responsible for updating the status of their own plans during the appropriate performance cycle which could be daily, weekly or monthly. Centralised reports can be developed based on the outcomes of the individual plans. Speaking at the launch, Conor Hannaway, Programme Manager for APEX Tracker, said: “The system is decentralised so that managers are responsible for the development, implementation and roll-out of their own plans within an overall corporate scorecard.”
Finally, the system is offered on a Software as a Service (SAAS) web-based application. This feature means is that there is no need to acquire special software to use it. It is a web-based application. Organisations pay an annual subscription fee based on the number of users and they can start using it immediately. There is specialist support available to assist during the start up phase and on an on-going basis. The annual fee entitles the user organisation to benefit from on-going upgrades and additional features.
APEX Tracker was developed on a well established performance management format and is based on the Performance Planning and Review System introduced into the HSE in 2008. A corporate scorecard with high level objectives organised within a number of major theme is cascaded through each layer of management so that the performance plans of work units and individuals are aligned to the high level goals of the organisation.
Performance plans are developed based on themes, key result areas and goals. Themes can include service delivery, quality and risk management, finance and people management. Key result areas identify areas of focus within each theme. Goals set the standards of performance required within each key result area.
APEX Tracker transforms business planning and performance management systems by placing business planning and execution on the one page. It makes performance plans part of the everyday work of managers, functions and work teams.
APEX Tracker ticks all the boxes
- Easy to deploy: APEX Tracker can be rolled out in the largest organisations in a matter of weeks.
- Easy to use: the system is intuitive and easy for non-technical people to use. High level objectives can be cascaded throughout the organisations in half the time of traditional systems.
- Integration: APEX Tracker links so well with other organisation processes and systems (policies, plans, reports etc) that it can become a one-stop-shop for total performance management.
- Accountability: each role develops its own plan approved its manager, ensuring high levels of trackability and accountability for performance outcomes.
- Communications: the system incorporates a range of communication tools that ensures users and their managers have on-going communications on key performance issues.
- Reporting systems: ease of monitoring, alert systems and tailored reports means that there should be no more surprises regarding unexpected outcomes or corporate blind spots.
- Paperless administration: the system is totally web-based and so the usual clutter associated with performance management does not apply.
- Cost effective: the system outperforms all comparable systems and operates efficiently on an annual cost per user.
APEX Tracker is unique in that it allows a range of different applications to be run on it simultaneously. It can be used for performance planning, programme roll-out and compliance management. Being able to manage both numeric and non-numeric goals, combined with its powerful reporting capability, makes APEX Tracker an ideal tool for Compliance Management and related activities such as security, safety and regulatory conformance.