In my 30-plus years at Accenture, I’ve seen our organization go through continual change to maintain our leadership role in a dynamic world—for our clients and for ourselves. A major wave of change has been leading a digital-first strategy on two tracks: delivering transformative digital capabilities to our clients and digitizing our own internal corporate processes.
One of these initiatives addressed our long-standing performance management model that was built when Accenture was primarily a consulting organization. In those days, the environment was less global and digital—and I joined Arthur Andersen management consultants as a new graduate in the UK. One of my first projects was at the London Stock Exchange. So much has happened since then. With changes in Accenture’s business services, technology, and our workforce, we were ready to rethink our performance management model.
Taking a new performance management approach digital
Accenture Human Resources designed Performance Achievement, a new performance management approach. As with most programs at Accenture, they did it in collaboration with several other teams, in this case, our internal IT organization, Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive, and early adopter groups. Human Resources and Fjord focused on applying human-centered design to the concepts, while our core internal IT team partnered with Human Resources to develop the functional and technical requirements.
As our IT posture is to buy rather than make, our internal IT team along with Human Resources solution architects assessed possible packaged solutions. They weren’t able to find a product that would meet this project’s unique requirements, so the team turned to building a solution. Ultimately, the situation presented the opportunity to develop a new, digital performance tool and replace the existing performance management tool while leveraging reusable components in the process.
Working to meet a tight timeline
Our internal IT team had a tight deadline, so development had to be done quickly. To make this happen, the team started with three main tenets:
- Stay on the leading edge architecturally and leverage on-demand cloud computing platforms to allow for fast development and experimentation.
- Move toward use of microservices architecture.
- Be cloud-first.
They applied these tenets to the design and front-end custom development. For the back end, the team leveraged Accenture’s experience with Amazon Web Services to use on-demand cloud offerings that were a fit. The beauty of this approach was in being able to move away from a traditionally structured database and instead move toward the use of unstructured databases. This architecture allowed a larger number of internal IT teams to be fast and agile, enabling our internal IT to meet the aggressive timeline set by leadership.
Creating a mixed-model solution
The technology powering Performance Achievement is a mixed-model solution developed with custom Microsoft .NET code and Amazon Web Services. Key components include:
- Innovative application architecture
- Parts of Amazon Web Services native technology platform-as-a-service, including Amazon DynamoDB, an all-PaaS database offering
- Interview-centric technologies
- Analytical data model
- Microservices back end that communicate with a transactional front end
- Reuse of components from Accenture’s existing performance management solution and parts of Accenture’s reusable architecture, such as single sign-on
Applying the new now
Tremendous teaming and collaboration resulted in the successful, on-time deployment of a new service and Performance Achievement experience to our global employee population. The new application experiences on average around 20,000 visitors daily and increases by up to 200,000 visitors a day during peak times. Over the course of the project, the teams deployed more than 20 major releases, developed 15 microservices, and deployed more than 4,000 times with zero downtime. I’m extremely proud of what all the teams accomplished.
Most important, the outcome is a transformation of Accenture’s Performance Achievement model to one helping our people achieve great performance—a demonstration of bringing the new to life now. I invite you to read more about it here.