What Are the Most Popular Management Tools Globally?

A global survey concluded that these five management tools were used most often in 2013: Strategic Planning, Customer Relationship Management, Employee Engagement Surveys, Benchmarking and Balanced Scorecards.
But according to the Bain & Company 14th Management Tools & Trends survey that queried more than 12,000 executives from around the world, of the 25 tools listed only three tied for first place in both usage and satisfaction. They are:

  1. Strategic Planning: Bain & Company call this tool “tried-and-true” as it historically ranked top in both usage and satisfaction. (See a previous article on this topic “Strategic Planning is the Most Popular Management Tool — Find Out Why”) In recent decades, strategic planning has become an increasingly vital tool utilizing both short-term and long-term planning enabling organizations to stay adaptable. It focuses an organization’s ability to respond successfully to changes and plan for sustainable viability. Additionally, companies that never thought of strategic planning—like small businesses and non-profits—are discovering they need to think about it in order to survive.
  2. Employee Engagement Surveys, a new addition to the top of the list, grew most in popularity in North America where harsh economic realities have made revenue growth, the most common goal of companies in 2013, seem increasing difficult to achieve. The survey revealed that only half of North American executives are optimistic about improving economic conditions in their industries — a decline of 20 percentage points since 2010. The Employee Engagement Survey is designed to improve employee morale and, by extension, productivity, retention and customer loyalty. As Bain & Company summarized:

    “Companies are finding that a loyal workforce does more than reduce the costs of churn; it also delivers more loyal customers…Armed with new evidence proving the link between motivated employees and customer loyalty, business leaders are prioritizing investments in employee engagement. They told us they are compensating for long-delayed investments to upgrade information technology and to tackle complexity in their organizations.”

    Employee engagement is a critical component of the health of any organization. To measure and improve that dynamic, we often build a survey for our clients that easily incorporates the resulting findings into their strategic plan. Get more information on our Employee Insight Assessments here.

  3. Customer Relationship Management has also grown in popularity due in large part to executive’s perception that customers are not as inclined to be loyal as they once were with 67% of executives saying they believed their customers had become less loyal to their brand. The internet makes it easy for customers and potential customers to compare prices, which hampers organization’s ability to boost prices while maintaining market share and consumers are more easily swayed by a lower price. Bain’s finding report that companies have learned, over time, improvement in both technology and user sophistication have increased performance. With the growth of this important need, we also have responded by offering Customer Insight Assessments to a wide-variety of organizations including companies and non-profits.

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In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Balanced Scorecard — a tool that helps companies measure and improve managers’ performance — topped the list. We’ve built the balanced scorecard practices into our strategic planning application.

Benchmarking, another popular tool, improves performance by identifying and applying best demonstrated practices to operations and sales. Managers compare the performance of their products or processes externally with those of competitors and best-in-class companies and internally with other operations within their own firms that perform similar activities.



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