Just as understanding the direction of the
organization is important, understanding the current state of the
company (department, team…) is critical to addressing the challenges and
opportunities you’ll be facing. You need to evaluate your organization
from several perspectives: People, Resources, and Expectations.
It may seem obvious
that you need to evaluate your people; however, there are several
aspects to consider – Process, Staffing, and Support.
First, you need to
understand the processes that your people are expected to execute on a
regular basis, be it daily, weekly or monthly. A clear understanding of
the end to end processes for which you are responsible is obvious, but
have you considered the handoffs between processes? Particularly where a
process crosses departments? Also, consider whether there are other
areas of the organization where people are performing overlapping or
duplicate functions. Are there opportunities to optimize processes to
leverage skills or eliminate duplication or overlap?
Once you are
confident that the work for which you are responsible is clear, you need
to evaluate the level of staffing. Do you have enough people to execute
the processes in your area of responsibility? More importantly, do you
have the skill sets required to execute those processes with quality and
on a consistent basis? If not, before you take on any special projects
beyond the scope of your routine responsibilities, you need to address
the level of staffing and/or additional training that will be required
to provide the skill sets you need to effectively support existing
operations. Other alternatives to consider are realignment of duties,
reassignment of personnel and/or reengineering of the way your team
works to ensure the best use of your people.
One other area to
consider when evaluating people is the support your team receives – from
training and educational opportunities, work assignment rotations, or
other opportunities. Business changes so quickly anymore, that the more
exposure to new opportunities and ideas we can provide for employees,
the more creative and resourceful they become for us.
Most people think of
people as resources, and while that is certainly true, I think it’s
important to distinguish between human capital and non-human capital.
Therefore, we will refer to resources as time, materials and technology.
We all know that time
is the one resource we cannot produce more of, so we need to make the
best use of the time we have – whether for personal or business
activities and goals. Evaluate your operations in terms of the time
people have to perform their responsibilities – are they over tasked?
Under utilized? Time is such a precious commodity, yet we often don’t
evaluate the work we do against the time we have available – make it
Materials are an
important aspect to consider, and can certainly impact our ability to
accomplish our work. Assess the materials available to your team, and
determine whether additional materials would allow people to accomplish
more in the allotted time, or otherwise provide for more streamlined
operations. Often times, a small investment can make a big difference in
an employees ability to accomplish the tasks at hand.
certainly a resource that must be evaluated on a regular basis. With the
changes occurring at such a lightening pace anymore, there are
constantly new products and services that can assist us in making better
use of our people and other resources. Before adopting a new piece of
technology, however, be sure your goals and expectations are clear so
you have a way to measure the value that would be delivered from the
technology, as well as a way to set expectations with management and
customers. (more on this topic another time….)
One component that is
often overlooked in evaluating your current state is expectations –
expectations of management, customers and stakeholders.
current expectations of your management team is crucial in determining
not only what needs to be delivered from your routine operations, but
also to gain a sense of priority and importance of any new/special
projects that might be undertaken. Before you spend too much time
working on a proposal for a new project, evaluate management
expectations for your organization and weigh those against your idea.
important, is understanding the expectations of your customers – both
internal and external. Do they have expectations around enhanced service
delivery, new products or other needs? If so, these need to be taken
into consideration with other opportunities you have identified for the
use of your people and other resources.
How about other
organizational stakeholders – do they have expectations that need to be
met before undertaking additional projects? How do these expectations
play into your current workload? What effect do they have on your
Now that you’ve
reviewed the current state of your organization, take a look at your
goals for this year and answer the following questions:
Based on the people,
resources and expectations, are all of these goals achievable?
Which goals require
adjustment for one reason or another?
Which goals should be
dropped because there is no reasonable expectation that they will be
The Importance of
Projects Really Fail