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Focus on the Future By Documenting the Past

KnowledgePoint's software eases fear of performance reviews.

October 18, 2001
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Although Bowne & Co. Inc. was founded in 1775, the company is far from being stuck in the past. In fact, the organization is very forward thinking, particularly when it comes to focusing on employee development and performance management. "A good portion of the management review needs to be future-focused because succession planning is very important," says George Thunhorst, director of management development.

Until recently, however, employee reviews were highly subjective and inconsistent throughout the company. Two years ago, a corporatewide survey that encompassed more than 5,000 employees in over 50 locations revealed employees wanted more timely reviews that contained more useful information. At that time, two competing performance management applications were used within the company. One of the vendors was going out of business. However, the KnowledgePoint system, according to Thunhorst, was receiving high marks from Bowne's internal customers. So the decision to begin a corporatewide implementation was an easy one.

Reviews are done in a snap.
Before the implementation, Thunhorst and his team began integrating Bowne's management development tools into KnowledgePoint's Performance Now Enterprise Edition Release 4, including the list of courses offered by Bowne's in-house training arm, Bowne University. Now, thanks to the KnowledgePoint performance management system, managers can immediately click to see what courses are available to fit employees' needs, and add those courses to the review's list of suggested actions.

Performance Now Enterprise Edition is comprised of four core modules:

  • Form Designer customizes ratings and terms to fit the corporate culture, and offers 36 performance competencies. It can create goal categories linked to organizational objectives.

  • Application Administrator adds new users with Wizards and protects the confidentiality of data.

  • Performance Manager documents daily events, tracks goals, links to relevant employee documents and provides advice on difficult situations and performs mass employee information updates.

  • Performance Appraiser generates reviews, checks for inappropriate language and spelling, and provides network and Briefcase access.

Bowne uses customized ratings.
As a financial printing company, Bowne operates three shifts, around the clock, seven days per week. Supervisors often are more comfortable dealing with manufacturing issues than report writing. KnowledgePoint's Performance Now Enterprise Edition with the Intelli-Text Designer module helps eliminate the fear of report writing.

Managers provide observations about their employees' performance using a high-low scale, and supervisors can add data for the next review throughout the year -- not just when they sit down to write reviews. Once entered, Intelli-Text turns those observations into clear, objective text. Thunhorst customized this module to use Bowne's performance criteria and to use the terms common to each functional group within the company.

The Bowne team just finished training managers to use the system, which is being loaded onto local networks. "We expect no difficulties," he says. In fact, the system is exceptionally intuitive. Though the system came with manuals, "We haven't needed them," Thunhorst says. "If you can use Windows®, you can use KnowledgePoint Performance Now. It's that easy."

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