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Step 1: Defining Goals and Initiatives

This is a key step in successfully implementing a measurement program. Without having an idea of what information the organization needs, a measurement group cannot provide it. This compares to a server in a restaurant bringing your dinner before you order. In the software industry, a comparison would be implementing a release before the requirements are defined. We all know that would never happen.

Goals and initiatives may vary from department to department or from level to level, so surveying a representative sample of the entire organization is imperative. This can be handled in department or team meetings throughout the organization or by selected individuals participating in separate goal-setting workshops. In either case, it is important to have a facilitated session that fosters openness and honesty. The session should involve brainstorming for goals or initiatives without limitation. Once all the goals and initiatives are defined, they can be prioritized.

During brainstorming of goals or initiatives, the facilitator should ask the following questions to trigger discussion:

  • What does the organization want to know?

  • What does the organization hope to accomplish this year? Next year? In five years?

  • What decisions need to be made?

  • What is the corporate vision?

  • What initiatives are being implemented?

  • What are customers continually mentioning?

To foster ideas from all levels of the organization, a good practice is to survey project team members separate from the management staff. In some organizations, individuals may be inhibited if their boss is in the room. After all sessions have been held, the facilitator can consolidate the information into one document that lists all the goals. Some examples of goals and initiatives are

  • Improve project productivity (Goal)
  • Improve project quality (Goal)
  • Reduce project cost (Goal)
  • Implement formal inspections (Initiative)

Often an organization is not aware of the current productivity or quality level, so the initial goals may need to be general. Once some measurement has been done and the current level is known, more specific goals can be set (such as improve project productivity by 10 percent; improve project quality by 25 percent).

When the organization knows what goals are important, appropriate measures can be defined.

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