Every Center of Excellence team must develop the ability to measure and report on the performance of all areas and efforts of the CoE as well as related specific efforts of the organization or practice it supports.
Measuring performance allows the CoE to set expectations for current and new work- providing answers to certain key questions such as:
Are our design or resource presumptions reasonable?
How do we know when things are “good enough” (when effort outlay exceeds any further expected return)?
Where are our confidence areas (where we may have opportunities to increase profits or speed up delivery times)?
What are our risk areas (where we may need to pay closer attention to avoid losing time or increasing cost)?
How do we demonstrate to our customers that we have met or exceeded the contracted requirements?
Measuring performance also allows the CoE to “reengineer” weaker or deficit areas through training, soliciting expertise from subject matter experts or by other means.
But what about those “deficit areas”? The occasional “run-away projects”? The “bad calls” or “blunders” we’ve made?
Before they become that “distant spec” in our rear view mirrors, it’s worth taking one more look, and here is some advice on dealing with them:
Look Back at the Wreckage
That’s right, take some time to evaluate the wreckage, to “relive the pain” with the parties who were involved – and then prioritize what needs fixing. Some call this a “project postmortem”, but remember it’s not an “inquest” – we’re not looking to scape goat.
Make No Excuses
Whether you endured an “act of God” or dug your own hole, don’t dwell on “why me?” It’s about solutions now. Did the software not work as advertised? Did project stakeholders completely reverse direction late in the project cycle? Or did you just agree to do the impossible? No matter – let’s just worry about avoiding these going forward.
Take Action, but Start Small.
Make a goal for the New Year, next quarter, next project or even the next week. Minor victories quickly accumulate. Practice management is a “big ship” and big ships don’t turn on a dime.
Think small but consistent change!
Call for backup
It’s always a great idea to “enlist friends” to help with the work and keep your team honest. This means team members, practice managers, directors and developers, subject matter expects, business stakeholders, etc. Tell them what you’re up to and why. This isn’t a burden. If they care about quality and success (and you know they do), then they will want to support you.
Okay, look back once more
Finally, every time you’ve hit a goal, pause. Take a moment to acknowledge this new reality and then press on!
New Year, No Fear!
-based upon the musings of Augusten Burroughs.