I spend lots of time in airports.

I spend lots of time in airports.

I get around.  Once upon a time in my life that might have been an epithet, but now reflects a wide exposure to what works, doesn’t work and what is clearly a cop out.  There are five requirements for a successful process improvement program or five attributes that give a program a chance of success.  They are:

  1. The best and brightest
  2. Understanding of change management
  3. The wish to change
  4. A commitment to change in dollars and cents
  5. Recognition that implementation matters

The best change programs are staffed by people that have a solid track record of success both technically and in business terms. The right candidates will have a high follow-ability quotient. Follow-ability is combination of a number of attributes; including, optimism, successful, collaborative, vision and leadership.

Change management is a structured approach to shifting/transitioning individualsteams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state.  It requires planning for selling and promoting ideas, then supporting the nascent changes until that have achieved critical mass.  Make sure your process improvement group has someone trained in change management. Skills will include sales, promotion, branding, communication and organizational politics.

I have observed many change programs that were created to check a box.  There was no real impetuous within the organization to change.  The organization must want to change; to become something different or the best a change program can do is to put lipstick on a pig.

Having a commitment to change in dollars and cents is critical.  I suggest funding the process improvement program by having each of the affected groups contribute the needed budget. The word contribute means that they can choose not to renew funding if they do not get what they need. The funding linkage ensures that the funding groups stay involved, and at the same time makes sure the process improvement team recognizes their customer.

Finally the recognition that implementation matters is the capstone.  Process changes, unlike spaghetti, cannot be tossed against the wall to determine if it is done.  How a process change is implemented will determine whether it sticks.  An implementation plan that integrates with the organization change management plan is part of the price of admission for a successful change.

A measurement program is like building a wall. Make sure you have all your resources in place.

A measurement program is like building a wall. Make sure you have all your resources in place.

Part of the Simple Checklist Series (Resources Part 1)

Beginning or continuing a measurement program is never easy. Many times measurement programs begin because an organization or individual thinks it necessary for survival or to avoid pain. Measurement can be thought of as a balance between the effort to collect and report measurement data and the value gained from applying what is learned from the measurement data.  Measurement programs targeted only the at gathering and reporting part of the measurement program will languish in the long run. On the other side of the equation, i.e. measures need to be used in order to generate the value needed to eclipse the effort of collection and reporting. Everyone must be educated on how to use measurement data and then continually asked to use the data. Both sides of the equation are necessary. The simple Measurement Readiness Checklist will be useful for any major measurement initiative, but is tailored toward beginning a measurement program.  The checklist will provide a platform for evaluating and discussing whether you have the resources, plans and organizational attitudes needed to implement a new measurement program or support the program you currently have in place.

I have divided the checklist into three categories: resources, plans, and attitudes.  Each can be leveraged separately. However, using the three components will help you to focus on the big picture. We will address each component separately over the next several days.

Scoring

This checklist can be used as a tool to evaluate how well you have prepared for your measurement journey. The following questions are the evaluation criteria.  To use the checklist, answer each question with high, medium, low and not present (with one exception). Each question will contribute points toward the total.

Section and Question Weights:

Resources: Forty-two total points. Each component contributes up to 7 points (7, 3, 1, 0).

Plans: Eighteen total points. Each component contributes up to 6 points (6, 3, 1, 0).

Attitude: Forty total points. Each component contributes up to 8 points (8, 4, 2, 0).

Note that where support and implementation projects would need to take a different angle we will point out any possible nuances.

Resources

Resources are the raw materials that you will consume on your measurement journey.  As with any journey having both the correct resources and correct amount of resources will make the journey easier.  Just think of trying to canoe from New York to London for a meeting; the wrong resources can make the trip difficult.

Management Support: When initially implementing a measurement program, support from management is the most critical resource.  This is the time when measurement seems to be all effort, cost and bother.  Later, as value is derived, support can be less visible.  Note that the more management support you have across the whole IT structure, the easier it is to get a measurement program on its feet and keep it there.

Scoring

7 – Senior management is actively involved in guiding which measures and metrics are collected and how they are used.  Senior managers stop people in the hall to discuss progress in collecting and using measurement data. Discussion of progress is an agenda item at all management-staff meetings.

3 – Senior and middle managers attend formal measurement informational meetings and talk about the need to support the measurement initiative.

1 – A senior manager or two attended the kick-off meeting, then relocated en mass to Aruba, leaving the middle managers in charge.

0 – The measurement initiative is a grass-roots effort.

Support Note:  Whether you are answering from a support or implementation perspective does not matter.  Management support is important.

Change Specialist: Measurement is a form of organizational change that typically requires skills that are not generally found in an IT department. The skills needed to start and perpetuate a measurement program include sales, marketing and communication.

7 – An organizational change specialist has been assigned as a full time resource for the project.

3 – An organizational change specialist is available within the organization and works on many projects simultaneously. The specialist may or may not have experience with IT change programs.

1 – Someone on the team has helped craft an organizational change plan in the past.

0 – Organizational change websites are blocked and your best bet is buying a book on Amazon using your own cash.

 Support Note: A change specialist is needed for ALL change programs regardless of whether we are discussing implementation or generating ongoing support.

Expertise: A deep understanding of measurement will be needed in a dynamic IT environment.  Experience is generally hard won. “Doing” it once generally does not provide enough expertise to allow the level of tailoring needed to deploy a measurement program in more than one environment. Do not be afraid to get a coach or mentor if this is a weakness.

7 – The leaders and team members working to implement and/or support the measurement program have been intimately involved in successfully implementing measurement in different environments.

3 –At least two team members have had substantial involvement in implementing a measurement program in the past, in a similar environment.

1 – Only one SME has been involved in a measurement program and that was in another environment.

0 – All of the team members have taken basic measurement classes and can spell measurement, assuming they can buy a vowel.

 Support Note:  You can never have a measurement program without someone with (or without access to) measurement knowledge.

We will finish the resource part of the checklist tomorrow.