3 posts categorized "Accountability"

05/20/2011

7 Ways to Improve "Garbage In, Garbage Out" in Project Management Software Tools

IStock_000004341760_web_rc In my last post, I discussed the issue of "garbage in, garbage out" in our project management software tools.  In other words, if we do not have good data going into the tools, we will not have good data coming out of the tools.  And that is a problem, since retrieving good data is a fundamental reason to have a tool in the first place.  There are a variety of causes for this that we discussed in that post.

Fortunately, there is hope.  Organizations have overcome this problem and produced a useful tool with useful information.  Here are seven ways that you can overcome this problem in your own organization:

1.  Make it public

Collin wrote a comment on a previous post on the importance of visibility.  Don't hide the information in the system.  Make it visible to everyone.  This produces natural accountability.  Who wants to be the one that is "holding up the system" and whose area is clearly lacking with input into the system?

2.  Use it

If you do not use the information in the system, why would anyone take the time to accurately enter that data?  Do not expect people to do so.  However, if you consistently use the data and expect the data to be accurate, people will start to realize this is serious and will enter the right data.  For example, instead of asking people to write up a report and email it to you once a week, insist that they use the project management software tool.

3.  Implement Accountability

There has to be some level of accountability to use the tool.  If there is not, many people will do what is most comfortable: doing things the way they have always done them.  We have discussed this more than one time in the past and so do not need to rehash this here, other than to re-iterate that accountability is a key component.

4.  Train

You cannot expect people to enter accurate data if they do not understand how to enter accurate data.  They may simply be lazy in not entering accurate data (or no data).  But they may also be sincere and simply do not understand how to enter the data correctly.  Or they are reticent to use the system to enter data because they do not understand it.  This is where training comes in.  Hold some brown bag lunch sessions that cover the process (not the features) that you want them to follow.

5.  Set expectations

Expectations can be a wonderful thing.  If I expect my kids to do something and I act that way consistently over time, they will often (not always) rise up to my expectation.  If I do not raise my expectation for them and act accordingly, they will almost always revert to the lowest common denominator.  I believe the same is true for our project teams.  If you set the expectation - i.e. that the important information you use weekly will be pulled from the project management software system - you inherently raise the bar.  But you have to act appropriately.  Meaning, you go to the system and expect the information to be there.  That is just how things are done.  I am not saying that is a magic bullet and it is that easy.  But I am saying that plays a key part in raising the bar for your organization.  Your organization (whether a corporation, company, group, department, or team) will only match the expectations that you have for it.

6.  Understand it is a process, not an event

Getting accurate, good, actionable data into your project management software tool is a continuous process, not a one time event.  You need to continuously do these things, talk about it in your meetings, and make them an integral part of your processes and culture.

7.  Understand it is a management issue, not a technology issue

In most cases, getting garbage in your project management software tool is not a technology issue.  It is a management issue.  It is a matter of managing the team and organization so that they indeed do enter quality data into the system.

Choose at least two of these things to work on and pay attention to the level of quality in your project management software tool.





04/19/2011

5 Insights To Ensure "Truth" In Your Project Management Software Tool

IStock_000004563504X_web Last week, I wrote a post on What is Truth?  How do we know, or better, how do we create an environment where our project management software tools reflect truth and reality?  If you commented or emailed, thank you.

Here are 5 insights that I extrapolated as to how to get your tools to reflect truth.

1.  Hold People Accountable

Collin wrote that "the best way to get any system to reflect the truth is to hold people accountable to it."  I agree.  Accountability can be done in various ways, including positive reinforcement, but if people are not accountable for making sure that the tool represents truth, good luck.

2.  Make the Information Public

Collin also wrote in his comment that the information should be public.  I agree with this point as well.  If the information is public, there is something about it that causes most people to make sure it is accurate.  After all, everyone can see it.

I do wonder if there is a dark side to this, however.  That would be the scenario where people enter the data that makes them look good.  Perhaps this is the topic of another post.  However, I believe the benefits of making information public outweigh this, and that there are strategies to tackle this.

3.  Perform Quality Checks

There was also the idea of quality checks.  I agree that someone needs to be ensuring the information is always accurate.  By the way, this applies to any tool - whether it is  simple spreadsheets on up to a high-end, sophisticated system.  Someone needs to be sure that the tool is useful, the data is correct, and it is being used properly.  In other words, they need to do some quality process on it.

4.  Ensure Management Buy-In

I suppose this relates directly to accountability, but management needs to be commited to the project management software tool.  They should set the expectation that what is represented in the tool should be truth.  If they do not, it will be very difficult to enforce any sort of accountability and you may need to work on a group or division level.

5.  Wrap a Key Process Around It

I find that almost every organization has some key processes - those processes that are necessary to run the operation.  For example, a services company may have a new project process (from generating a proposal to estimating the resources to getting client approval to kicking it off).  Wrap this process into the tool.  In other words, make the tool indispensable so that it is required to perform the process.  This will also help to encourage that truth is represented in the tool, and that the tool is used.

Thanks for the feedback.  Feel free to comment or email blog@teaminteractions.com with any more ideas that you have experienced.

 





04/08/2011

5 Fresh Ideas To Implement Project Management Software Accountability

IStock_000000314312_web Here we go again...talking about accountability.  After my last post on mistakes you may be making right now with your project management software, I got to thinking about accountability.  Accountability is so important, yet frowned upon.  People are afraid to implement accountability.  Yet you cannot implement your strategic objectives without accountability.  I began to think of some new ways that we can implement accountability to be sure that people are using our project management software tools effectively (although these could be applied to any project management area).  Here are five ideas.

1.  Reward People

Accountability does not have to always be negative - i.e. you did not do this.  Turn it around.  Reward people who have done what you asked them to do.  Give them a certificate.  Praise them in front of their peers.  Give them recognition.  Let them go home 2 hours early on Friday.

2.  Hold a Contest

A manufacturing company that I worked for in the 90's went through an ISO 9001 certification process.  They held a contest.  If you were "caught" following the new quality processes that were being put in place, you received an "ISO buck."  These "ISO bucks" could be put into a bin.  At the end of the "push phase", these "bucks" would be randomly selected for prizes.  It worked.  Of course, in the interest of disclosure I do have to admit that I won a very nice bbq grill.

3.  Thank Them

This is so simple we overlook it.  How about a simple thank you?  Just say thank you to someone who did what you asked them to do.  They will appreciate it, especially if it is sincere.

4.  Do Something For Them

They did something for you.  This is not a quid pro quo, but it doesn't hurt to look for ways that you could reciprocate.  Perhaps you could give them time to express an idea, help them with a report they are producing, or remove a roadblock for them.

5.  Ask Their Advice

Ask them what they think about the new tool or process and how they would make it better.  Ask them their thoughts on advice on something unrelated.  And mean it.  They will appreciate that you sincerely covet their thoughts.

 

This all is not to say that you can get away with only doing these.  I do believe there has to be real accountability in terms of when people consistently do not do something.  But try two of these and see if it doesn't have a positive impact on your accountability efforts.

 






 

Subscribe

The EnterPlicity Project Tools blog covers all areas of effectively tracking, managing, and using your enterprise project data.

    

Subscribe by email:

 

What is EnterPlicity?

EnterPlicity is project management software that enables your organization to extend project management software tools to everyone, share any project information, automate key processes, and analyze project data in a single, easy to implement system.