Early in my career I learned a task was like going to the toilet: Not finished until the paperwork was done.
As a manager at Microsoft, the company became the most metricised organisation I'd ever worked for. In 2007 with a staff of 20 consultants I had to report on 35 KPI's each.
Of course this isn't unique to MS, but a common malady affecting enterprises. Especially those with matrix management. And this drives a certain behaviour…
Reporting focus is insidious, a termite that eats a company from within. It drives the Watermelon Metric. Green on the outside, masking red behaviours.
This is because the focus is the report rather than the work. Added to which is a proportional relationship between effort and inaccuracy. I suspect there is also a correlation between incentive and inaccuracy. This is what causes sales people to 'sandbag,' consultants to fudge timesheets, executives to misreport expenses.
Consider the Annual Performance Review. Good managers know and recognise performance in their teams regularly. For them the process is a waste of time at best, and a constrained burden at worst. Bad managers don't measure or recognise, but for them the process hides their poor management. Either way you can have a green dashboard with completed reviews, but a disengaged and unproductive staff.
Another issue is that whilst the report usually costs the employee effort, it rarely benefits them. Occasionally reports are used as a carrot and stick, but mostly they benefit managers and executives.
And metricisation is symbiotic with management layers. Managers need metrics to justify their position, and more measurements requires more managers. As Peter Drucker accurately said: “What gets measured gets managed.”
The problem is that manual reports mean you're measuring the reporting process. You create a system that savvy employees and managers game, whether maliciously or to avoid burnout.
What metrics do you have to report on that take you away work?
Which ones obscure what's actually happening in the organisation?