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If you're just getting started in business and you have no HR department; if your people have never done a performance review; if you’re getting bigger, hiring new employees, and you need to set standards and manage performance across the company… paper-based performance reviews are not the way to go.

Here are a few reasons why.

Tracking progress and following up completion is a nightmare.

You’ve got a bunch of paper being carried around, filled in and - if you’re very lucky - even sent back by busy people with better things to do. What happens if they’re incomplete or illegible? What happens when they get lost?

You’re probably collecting outdated, unreliable information.

You can’t easily add to paper reviews during the year. Come review time, people will be relying on hazy memories of long-past events, so incomplete or inaccurate data is a real possibility. Besides which, people are really good at remembering the things that went horribly wrong…

You can’t do team reviews.

You usually don’t get the chance to evaluate teams with paper reviews - not that you’d want to shuffle through 15 individual forms to make sure everyone’s been rated correctly relative to everyone else anyway. So you review people one at a time, and hope that when you look back over those reviews, they accurately reflect the team’s performance.

Most of the information comes from managers.

Paper reviews can be pretty one-sided. There’s limited opportunity for self-assessments, and almost no chance of detailed 360 degree feedback. You certainly wouldn’t want to be the one in charge of compiling all those separate pieces of feedback into one harmonious whole in any case…

It’s not easy to work with paper review data.

Let’s talk next steps: How long does it take you to tabulate and verify the data? Can you analyze it quickly, and will it give you the Big Picture? And once all that’s been done, can the data - assuming it’s complete and correct - be used for compensation and development and succession planning? Can you easily compare it to last review round’s data and visualize trends? Can you even find the last round’s data?

We recently profiled South Coast Radiology, an Australian company that went through this very same scenario. The people there had never done reviews, had no HR department and were looking to make performance management happen. Did they turn to paper reviews as a first step? No they did not. Do they have advice for other people in the same situation? Yes they do.

“The time you will take managing, filing, scanning, emailing, compiling and losing paper based information will greatly outweigh the cost of implementing Cornerstone Performance Growth Edition… with what you get for the price, it’s a no-brainer.”

Read more from South Coast Radiology here.