How to evaluate a performance report?
Past exam questionsthat required candidates to assess a performance report:
♣Mar/Jun 2016,Question 1,Requirement(i),14 marks
♣Jun 2014,Question 1,Requirement(i),15 marks
♣Jun 2013,Question 1,Requirement(ii),8 marks
♣Jun 2012,Question 1,Requirement(i),12 marks
Evaluatethe strengths and weaknesses of a performance report according to whether thereport:
1.Contains performance measures/metrics that directly address the mission(overall aims and strategies),objectives and critical success factors;while indirect measures ae also acceptable.
(1)Performancemeasures that can directly address the overall aim of maximizing shareholdervalue include EVA,NPV,total shareholder return,share price,dividend growth,EPS and free cash flow.
ROCEindirectly links to shareholder value.
(2)Thestrategy of creating customer value,expressed by such as“provide good valueproduct and service to customers”,can be directly addressed by price/qualitymix compared to competitors.
Thecompany can measure any key identified value drivers,such as unique taste offood and comfortable room,through customer survey or benching marking.Grossprofit,revenue growth,customer loyalty and price elasticity of demand areindirect measures of customer value,which can be compared to competitors orindustry average.
(3)Shouldcontain appropriate number of performance measures.Only one measure may notreflect the aim/strategy convincingly,but too many measures will overload thereaders
(4)Includingthe measures specific to the industry/business could be helpful,for example,occupancy rates and revenue per room-day in hotel business.
2.Containsappropriate information for decision making
(1)Internal and external information,e.g.have budget figure for internal comparison,and have competitor’s performance in the areas mentioned in mission statement for external benchmarking
(2)Financial and non-financial information:can base the criticism on a framework such as Balanced scorecard or F&M Building blocks–results and determinants.
(3)Historical and future information:
Use historic information to demonstrate trends,especially important for the business with fast growth/decline or running in rapidly changing market.
Use forecast information to indicate longer-term development
(4)Appropriate breakdown of information
♣High-level overview of annual report may be appropriate for group board,but more detailed information may be provided to assist the performance evaluation of individual subsidiaries/divisions/projects,for example,the subsidiary managements may require the breakdown of revenues,gross margins and marketing expense by product line/geographical region.The reporting period can be less lengthy for individual subsidiaries,say,quarterly or monthly.
♣The annual figures may be adequate for historical trend and forecast.However,for more immediate performance,a shorter timescale may be required,e.g.the last two quarters.
♣Annual figures may be adequate for annual meeting of decision makers,but the quarterly meeting would need quarterly data.
♣If the decision makers come from different function areas,the breakdown by functional performance will be relevant to their decision making.
(5)Explanation of evident fluctuations due to such as seasonality or unstable economic environment.Consider if the following information are helpful to analyze performance:
♣Breakdown to shorter timescales,e.g.breakdown the quarterly result to monthly figures.
♣Information by product category/customer category/region
♣Comparative figures from the previous year
(1)In an easily recognizable form
(2)With necessary narrative commentary to highlight major achievements or material issues in each area of mission statement,major deviation from the budget and performance well outside industry norms.
(3)Data volume should not be excessive:cutting out unnecessary measures and rounding figures to millions or thousands,thus removing unnecessary detail.
(4)Give relative figures,such as ratios and rankings to complement the absolute numbers
(5)Highlight the key headings,e.g.using bold type
4.Showssigns of being short termism
(1)Use period profits as main performance measure
(2)Only include historical data-budgeted and actual result:this is helpful in controlling the organization,but lacking long-term vision
(3)Short termism can be reduced by including value-based measures,longer term forecasts,both financial and non-financial information,information on future capital investment,information on determinants of performance,etc.