Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MATRIX MANAGEMENT AND PROJECTS

Diagram of a matrix organisation
Diagram of a matrix organisation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With large projects having all the required resources to hand is sometimes a difficult job in itself. While systems and hardware are easily acquired, the skills and specializations that people can bring to bear need time to develop. You could “hire” for it, but to some extent, that is a losing proposition as someone coming into the company fresh, will often not have the necessary internal knowledge or skills required to get the job done. This is where Matrix Management comes into play.

TAKE THE BLUE PILL

Matrix management is something that has been around for quite a while and despite your initial thoughts, it really does not have anything to do with Keanu Reaves and a long standing war between humanity and the machines! Rather, Matrix management (with respect to Projects) is a way of utilizing resources that exist in other teams so that you are able to accomplish your objectives. These resources are on temporary “loan” and must revert back to their previous home when the project or task is completed.

ADVANTAGES OF MATRIX MANAGEMENT IN PROJECTS

A significant advantage of this method of sourcing your resources in your project is the fact that you can get the best people possible to assist you in completing your project. While it is possible to hire externally and get the same or better skills, anyone that has come in from the street will not have the “company” knowledge that is sometimes the key requirement in getting things done. By obtaining resources from other internal departments and teams, you are able to bypass this bottleneck and ensure that you have got the team you need to get the job done.
Another significant advantage of this Matrix Management is that while you have the resources you need – you (as a manager) are still not their direct line manager. This means that you can leave the minutiae of people management tasks by the wayside and focus on what is of interest to you – completing that project!

DISADVANTAGES OF MATRIX MANAGEMENT IN PROJECTS

While not having to manage your new resource is a definite plus, the fact that you are not their manager can sometimes be a disadvantage also. Often – unless clearly defined – staff get pulled in multiple directions between the demands of their new project team and their existing team. If this is not addressed quickly, it can become quite a drain on your team and their morale.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

KPIs AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASUREMENT

DMAIC

There is a great quote somewhere that goes something like - "If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it!" ... this is so true and especially so in the Customer Service and Operations area. There are great KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) and not so great ones. The key is choosing the right one for your business and you need to choose it from a CUSTOMER point of view. There is no use choosing your KPI from any other area as if you lose your customers, you lose your revenue and obviously you lose your business!!
When defining a set of KPIs to control and measure performance, the most likely debate is probably around measuring KPIs. Another way to think about KPIs is that they are measurements designed to assess performance.
DMAIC is an abbreviation of the five improvement steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control and while it is a key mantra in six-sigma improvements, it is not only used in this methodology.

What KPI’s should I use?

Your choice of KPI’s depends on your intention and target audience. Which problem or issue are you trying to solve, who is it impacting, what is the impact and what outcome would you like to see afterwards are all good questions to ask when building a KPI plan.

The Traditional Mantra is -

As we've already discussed in a previous section, DMAIC stands for
  • Define,
  • Measure,
  • Analyze,
  • Improve and
  • Control
You could shrink this to just “Measure. Analyse. Act” where, KPI’s are the middle stage. While they might be at the middle stage, they are defined by the first and they should drive the third.
Sounds somewhat complicated but really they aren't. You need to measure what is important to your business, the things that impact the bottom line, and your measurements should be repeatable and objective (appropriate to the job) and not just "management speak". Talk to your staff - they are on the front line and can help guide you on what customers are really looking for!

1st Call Resolution & Downtime

Two common KPIs are 1st Call Resolution and Downtime (please note I have not said these are good ones - that is something you will need to determine for yourself depending on your interpration of whats important to your customer ... this is something I shall discuss in greater detail in later posts). Similarly, KPI’sshould be measured over time and you should not expect your initial snapshot to give you the full picture as you will frequently have to 'massage' and/or revise your measurement criteria and focus until you are measuring the correct information.
1st Call Resolution -
Measurement of the %'age of customer issues resolved at the first call.
% Uptime/Downtime -
Measurement of the %'age of time the service is available (or not)
There are literally thousands (if not millions) of KPIs available, so there is bound to be one that actually meets the needs of your organization or business. A great resource to search if you've never used KPIs before is KPI Library. They offer free access to their library of KPIs and they have a very friendly and interactive community.

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