Call for change

Accenture had a long-standing performance management model that was built when the company was primarily a consulting organization in a less global and digital environment. Over time, changes in technology, Accenture’s business services and the company’s workforce led to reimagining performance management for the company.

One need was to engage the newest generation of Accenture’s growing workforce, Millennials and Generation Z, with a digital tool that would facilitate ongoing feedback and dialogue. A second need was to introduce a single consistent tool that could be used across all geographical units and would be globally relevant. For Accenture’s global IT organization, this new program presented the opportunity to develop a new, digital performance application making use of latest scalable and serverless cloud platform services.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Accenture Human Resources designed Performance Achievement, a new performance management approach in collaboration with Accenture’s global IT organization; Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive; and early adopter groups. Human Resources and Fjord focused on applying human-centered, experience design to the concepts, while global IT partnered with Human Resources to develop the functional and technical requirements.

Global IT together with Human Resources solution architects assessed the marketplace for packaged solutions but were unable to find any that would meet this project’s unique requirements. This outcome led the team to turning to build a solution. Development had to be done quickly to meet a tight timeline. To support this objective, a core global IT team started with three main tenets:

  1. Stay on the leading edge architecturally and use on-demand cloud computing platforms to allow for fast development and experimentation.
  2. Move toward use of microservices architecture.
  3. Be cloud-first.

The team applied these tenets to the design and front-end custom development. For the back end, the team applied Accenture’s experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to use on-demand cloud offerings that were a fit. The benefit 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 the teams to be fast and agile, enabling global IT to meet the aggressive timeline set by leadership.

Development followed an agile methodology. The technical architecture work was ongoing by global IT, and as one release was being developed, solution architects in the Human Resources space would be planning the next couple. Global IT development teams in the United States used a responsive framework to develop the back end, holding daily scrums and moving from releases every few months to monthly. Global IT also teamed with rapid global development cells in Spain and Argentina that developed the functional components and teamed continuously with operations teams in India.

New features and changes were continually deployed into production, which included integration with a related Total Rewards application to allow for automated feeds to the Total Rewards teams for administering employee compensation. Over the years, the tool has grown richer in functionality with many new features added. Significant improvements have been made in the following areas:

Real-time performance

  • Rolled out near-real-time global reporting capability on performance review process.
  • Launched new, innovative features aligned with providing continual, real-time feedback.

High availability and speed

  • Enabled cloud-centric architected solutions to ensure designs included fail-forward and self-recovery mechanisms, resulting in zero downtime.
  • Re-architected the core service engine to ensure performance optimization, resulting in significant speed improvements, with feature-rich functions.

Operational excellence

  • Reduced operating cost by 10 percent year over year, despite the increase in functionality and up-time needs.
  • Revamped operating procedures to provide best-in-class, “eyes-on-glass” monitoring and hyper-care support, resulting in response times within minutes.

Using an on-demand cloud computing platform for the Performance Achievement system enables Accenture people to complete the performance achievement process remotely and virtually, from wherever they are in the world. This approach supports a seamless employee experience, making sure our people receive the conversations and feedback they need and as committed. This capability works smoothly even in times when everyone is working from home or when the cycle needs to be compressed.

"Performance Achievement is enabling the strengths and potential of our greatest asset—our people—to achieve greater performance for themselves, their teams and our clients."

— Maeve Lucas, Global Performance Lead – Accenture

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

Interview-centric technologies

Analytical data model

Microservices back end that communicate with a transactional front end

Components from Accenture’s existing performance management solution

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A valuable difference

Tremendous teaming and collaboration led to the successful deployment of a new digital tool and Performance Achievement experience to Accenture’s global employee population. The application receives on average 20,000 visits daily and increases up to 300,000 visits a day during peak time frames.

Since launching, the team has adopted a DevSecOps model to provide agile delivery coupled with application security. Expecting high fluctuation in usage patterns, a "scale at will" approach was devised to allow for rapid scaling movements while also optimizing hosting costs. The team has encouraged a culture of continuous improvement and continuous delivery (CI/CD), which has allowed members to retrospectively identify improvements following each performance cycle to ensure they continually raise the bar.

The resiliency of the solution was put to the test in 2020 when Accenture decided to redesign the performance achievement process aligning to the company’s next-generation growth model. The team tuned processes and condensed the talent cycle by 300 percent compared to earlier periods. As a result, a surge of individuals used the Performance Achievement system, pushing user load up 250 percent in a short time frame. The application held up for an unprecedented surge running one cycle, globally, for more than half a million employees.

Though this performance "super cycle" was the biggest undertaking yet, with usage reaching more than 35,000 site visits per minute, creating and providing close to 2.5 million performance documents, it was achieved with 100 percent uptime and no high-priority issues.

The Performance Achievement journey is ongoing as Accenture’s Human Resources and global IT organizations collaborate to add and refine Performance Achievement elements as the program evolves.

"IT delivered on the organizational imperative—a people-at-the-center application that focuses on where we need to take our people rather than where they have been and a design aimed at elevating performance as we grow rather than measuring it in the past."

— HOLLY OBERMAN, Performance Operations Global Lead – Accenture

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