A Key to Organizational Focus
A common cause for resource conflict lies in understanding the answer to a deceptively simple question: how much is enough?
A staff member may become an overachiever in an attempt to please his or her boss, or to satisfy their own pride by applying ‘more’ to a project than it deserves.
An electrical engineer may try to make an amplifier “just a bit more sensitive,” or an IT specialist may keep working to get a few more messages per second out of a processor. These are both examples of work that doesn’t deliver any appreciable benefit to the company.
A good project manager must know when to push for more performance and when to stop and move onto the next activity. This type of judgement call is how organizations’ financial and marketplace health either thrive or start a downward spiral.
Measurements and metrics offer everyone clear guidelines for balancing project objectives.
When you offer clear and specific metrics, you enhance the project designer’s ability to develop a project plan that supports the organization.
A favorite framework that accommodates the iterative approach of Agile or Scrum lays out three achievement levels for organizational or project objectives. These include: minimum, target, and stretch metrics as defined below:
Minimum acceptable metrics tell project designers the lowest acceptable value for an objective. They may drop to this measurement under pressure to achieve balance in other areas. By definition, if the project or product cannot meet this minimum criterion, the project should be rejected or abandoned.
The target metric represents the strategic plan’s goals for the area. Once this target is achieved, project designers can focus on other areas. The target metric is the normal, steady-state metric portfolio and project designers should attempt to achieve it.
Stretch metrics are objectives the organization strives to achieve to capture innovative ideas or unplanned opportunities. Frequently, these may represent upper limits that the project designer should not exceed to prevent overloading the resource pool. Achieving stretch metrics should not be the norm. If every project designer attempted to achieve stretch metrics, resource shortages would impair the chances of strategic success.
This model can be employed for all of the categories of objectives: schedule, cost, resource, technical, and quality.
Establishing a framework for balanced objectives allows you to distribute resources based on strategic direction, keeping the entire organization moving ahead.
A company has only so many resources. A good project manager ensures that resources saved in one area are more effectively used in another.