Quality Group Carmen Nadeau

Quotes: Measure the right things right. "There may be inefficient systems, not necessarily inefficient employees" "Dashboard approach"


The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization responsible for the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic through Canadian Seaway facilities. SLSMC is former SLSA (The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority - Crown corporation) of which most operations were commercialized (as of October 1998) to a nine-member mixed user/government board accountable through the Minister of Transport to Parliament. SLSMC is essentially financially self-sufficient. A 5-year Business Plan defines expectations of Board and Minister. US SLSDC, responsible for US portion of Seaway, is partner in operations and marketing. Small consultant firm helped them develop a measurement method based on the balanced scorecard approach.

Establishing/Updating Performance Measures and Goals

Eight-person team was established in March 1995 by senior management with aim to identify Seaway activities that are key to success of organization (key success factors) and design Measurement System. Key indicator categories and associated indicators were based on:

  • Mission statement from own Authority Act.
  • Vision statement
  • Vision and Corporate objectives

Five-person team was put in place in January 1996 for implementation. Measures were developed based on extensive consultation within and outside the organization. Some 24 indicators were developed as a result of this consultation and other mechanisms. The indicators are currently being adjusted to reflect change to new more commercialized not-for-profit setup. Defining factors included

  • Must trigger action (can you take action to improve the performance of activity measured?)
  • A proper balance of stakeholders (customers, government as owner of waterway and employees)
  • Clear linkage to corporate/strategic objectives and key success factors
  • Integration of measures between organizational levels (Pyramid approach see Accountability and Reporting) and into job.

Must also take into account interrelationship between indicators (e.g., reliability and cost indicators, finding balance to spend more money on infrastructure, yet still maintain cost effectiveness).

Mission, vision as well as objectives have all been recently restated to align with new more commercialized not-for-profit setup. Five new strategic objectives (each with strategies and projects):

  • Meet and exceed Business Plan expectation
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Increase infrastructure reliability
  • Increase competitiveness
  • Increase employee satisfaction

A performance measurement system must be a living item.

Establishing Accountability for Performance

Carmen Nadeau is responsible for coordination and maintenance of performance measurement system, including coordination of data collection. Data analysis is left to the employees/teams, who actually own the performance measurement system. (The team concept was introduced in organization about the same time as Measurement system).

SLSMC is exploring linkage between individual performance with that of the Seaway. Measurement System is currently disassociated from individual performance evaluations to promote objective performance reporting. There is widespread acceptance that change in culture is required before moving to individual accountability.

SLSMC has a pyramid approach, empowering all levels from executive to operational.

  • Level One executive management team
    • Looks at long term, global trends and summary reports
    • Concerned with overall strategy

  • Level Two VPs and management team
    • Look at specific trends, regional and local reports
    • Concerned with planning and some monitoring

  • Level Three manager and supervisor teams
    • Look at regional and local reports
    • Concerned with monitoring and some planning

  • Level Four Front line teams
    • Look at details and fast response time
    • Concerned with problem solving and improvements

Measurement System was transferred to Intranet in 1998 and access opened to all. However, teams have their own "dashboard" (control panel). Panel provides the indicators relevant to the team i.e. those the team can act on. Data is tailored to their area of responsibility and provided at the frequency relevant to their level on the pyramid (e.g. most indicators are annual at level 1 as their perspective is more strategic than operational; frequency increases as we move down the pyramid).

New strategic objectives will be cascaded down the organization and "translated" to specific targets at each level where relevant.

Reporting of the implementation of the performance measurements is done through the company newsletter. There is a commitment to an educational process to show that using performance measurement is a self-improvement tool. Reporting on the status and results of measurements is done at team meetings within SLSMC internal management process.

Measuring Performance (Data Collection and Reporting)

SLSMC uses an Oracle database with feeder systems. Information gathered mainly at levels 3 and 4 of the pyramid.

Lessons learned regarding managing a lot of data:

  • may not have research enough what package to use; graphics package of Oracle is cumbersome to update when upgrades to indicators are required; new concepts of data warehousing may have been more
  • there was an assumption that training one level would result in ownership and training of next level. Cascading results were long to achieve.

Analyzing and Reviewing Performance Data

To encourage utilization of Measurement System initially, Senior Management analyzed one indicator monthly. This began the process because other levels had to answer. SLSMC now has level 1 owners for each key processes within the organization and associated indicators. Owners will be identified for other levels when new strategic objectives are cascaded down the organization.

At Level 3-4, indicators show measures that impact operations area. When employees/teams analyze performance, there could be three reasons why the indicators are not up to par:

  1. data may be incorrect (data input)
  2. measurement system could be wrong (indicator design)
  3. process being measured needs improvement.

Process improvement is at the heart of performance measurement. Improvement teams are put in place to correct any process deficiencies identified.

Evaluating and Utilizing Performance Information and Performance Reporting to Customers and Stakeholders

Customer consultation has played an important role in the development of customer related indicators. By agreement with users, certain types of delays (e.g. fog) are not included to calculate transit time achievement. Transit time targets of 90% transit within norm + 2 hours, 95% transit within norm + 4 hours were defined with the customers. Results and targets are reviewed with customers yearly and adjusted if required. New customer survey will be designed by year 2000 to better evaluate overall customer satisfaction.

Reliability indicator data is used for asset renewal justifications, providing some linkage to budget. New cost, FTE (Full Time Equivalents) and asset renewal indicators are being developed to monitor Business Plan achievement. Indicators are also used in reporting to the Board of Directors on key processes.

Users and general public have access to summarized information through the annual report.

Linkages Between Strategic Plan and Resource Allocation

Indicator results were used in strategic planning exercise to assess strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats. Performance measurement influences market strategy product/service design and operational strategies. As indicated above, Reliability indicator data is used for budget justifications and new cost indicators will monitor Business Plan achievement.

Each of the 5 strategic objectives has indicator associated to it with specific targets. Resource allocation within strategic plan done to support achievement of strategic objectives as measured by indicators.

Best Practices

Performance measures are

  • actionable
  • linked to mission/vision
  • balanced
  • integrated
  • owned by employees

SLSMC avoided creating another layer to collect data because results will not find an owner.


SLSMC currently does an employee satisfaction survey every 2 years to determine

  • satisfaction overall
  • how aligned are they with vision and objectives

SLSMC is benchmarking employee satisfaction and alignment utilizing the databank from Hay Consulting Group. This is a databank of companies that have done employee surveys.

SLSMC is still trying to benchmark vessel integrity (number of accidents to vessels through systems) although finding comparable data has proven difficult. They will benchmark against competing systems. Project will begin this summer. Finally, attempts have also been done to benchmark lost time injury data.

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