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From Management’s Point of View ~ Clarifying Project Results and Achievements ~

December 9, 2022

When engaged in a project, one of the most important sets of responsibilities from a corporate standpoint consists of clarifying the project’s results, sharing that within the company, and clearly communicating that to staff members and the client. Standards related to results or achievements vary by industry or type of business, but in our company, we broadly divide these into standards for quantitative results and those for qualitative results, and we have sets of guidelines on how to evaluate those results respectively. In my post this time, I would like to acquaint my readers with how we approach our standards for project results.

Quantitative Standards for Results

From a quantitative standpoint, simply tracking the required information on a daily basis will allow the relatively objective acquisition of data. It is necessary for the company to have a system in place to acquire the requisite data, for the employees to make use of that system, and for the project results to be properly understood. With that in mind, our company then seeks to do the following three things:

o Clarify the sales value of each project

  • The very first thing that has to be done is to clarify the amount of sales for each particular project. Clarifying the sales value will in turn clarify the number of steps that can be allocated, thereby guaranteeing profitability. Specifying the pricing system during the budgeting process is also important in avoiding to the greatest extent possible any billing disputes later on.

o Clarify the time required for the project

  • Within our company, time spent on any project is recorded daily by those working on it, and those records are reviewed by the administrative department and senior manager(s) of the project team. At the summary meeting, which we call Phase 5, the budgeted hours are compared with the actual hours, and we specify the reasons why the project went well or didn’t go well. Our system ensures that that information is shared among the project team, and in the case of major projects, throughout the company as a whole.

o Clarify the hourly rate of profit

  • Higher sales are definitely good, but sales are only good in the first place if they are profitable. Also, the speed and quality with which work can be handled differs according to job title or rank, so it doesn’t make sense to look solely at the total number of hours. In our company, for instance, hourly billing is set at $300 for senior managers but $150 at the staff level. As an example, a senior manager would be expected to deliver $600 worth of results for two hours of billing, while a staff level employee would be expected to deliver only $300 worth for that same time period. If the client were being billed $500, that would be budget-negative for the senior manager but budget-positive for the staff level employee.

It looks simple on paper like that, but our company handles hundreds of projects a year, with dozens running simultaneously, and it takes a huge amount of employee time to keep track of each project’s profitability. We tried various types of software but none of them worked well enough, and in the end, we developed our own that we call Cockpit Panel. We use that to keep track of our projects on a weekly basis, and we hold a summary meeting at the end of each project to communicate profitability. In our line of business, we don’t look at production sales or cost of goods, but in the case of manufacturing business, it would of course be necessary to use appropriate indices according to the particular sector.

Qualitative Standards for Results

Qualitative standards for results are closely related to company culture. Among accounting offices, for instance, there are those like ours that prefer innovative thinking and development, while there are also those that emphasize conventional methods. In our case, we combine our philosophical approaches (axes) into what we call TOPC Axis, and our employee evaluations are also undertaken with respect to that overarching axis. Our project level consideration is no exception. I continue to share those with my readers from the perspective of a top manager, and these standards or criteria can be summarized as follows:

o Technical Axis

  • Is work being attempted and performed faithfully to the basics?

  • Is the essence of things being properly grasped by questioning with “deep digging”?

  • Is each apparently complicated subject being broken down into simple components, and the whole of the subject being understood?

  • Are judgments being made fairly and without bias?

  • Is the chain of “hypothesis – execution – verification – adjustment” being smoothly followed?

  • Are efforts being made on a daily basis that will eventually enable intuitiveness?

o Service Axis

  • Is service being provided at a level that our clients will find remarkable?

  • Are our clients known sufficiently well, and their expectations being aligned with the results?

  • When a problem does occur, is a provisional response being followed up with a permanent response, and then cross-development with other projects? Are efforts being made to convert dissatisfaction into trust?

  • Rather than just getting work done, are you seen as an educator by your subordinates, clients, and supervisors?

o Team Axis

  • Are tasks being proactively taken on and not left to others?

  • Is the “Spielberging” (directing and collaborating with others) approach being taken?

  • Are ongoing efforts being made to be an innovator?

  • Are meetings being held and participated in as spaces for learning?

  • Is there a sense of purpose and fairness?

o Ownership Axis

  • Is ownership being taken, and is the best possible performance being delivered under the given conditions or circumstances?

  • Is there the ability to offer constructive suggestions along with criticism?

o Sales Axis

  • Are clients turning into fans?

  • Are both our clients and our staff happy?

  • Is the knowledge that you possess being transmitted?

o Time Axis

  • Is ownership being taken over scheduling, and is planning sufficient?

  • Are projects being properly defined, and is the value of time being increased?

  • Is budget-positive quality being delivered?

Every company will have a different cultural background, so evaluation criteria will necessarily differ. Fair evaluations cannot be biased toward either the quantitative or the qualitative. A company must determine the axis for quantitative criteria, establishing an internal system for proper numerical consideration, just as it must have an axis for qualitative criteria that clearly reflects its culture. Clarifying both sets of results is essential to fair evaluation.

In order to have our company values truly penetrate our entire organization, and in order to quickly communicate evaluation content, we conduct both project and employee evaluations monthly and use that content in our efforts at individual improvement. In the United States it is common to undertake employee evaluations on a semi-annual basis, but people often have trouble remembering what happened six months ago, and that would mean that they could even keep making the exact same mistakes for nearly six months. Our employees generally appreciate these monthly evaluations since they are provided with timely feedback. It seems unbelievable that there was a time when they didn’t have evaluations for up to half a year.

I suppose that there is no perfect evaluation axis and no perfect set of standards for results and achievements, but one of the things required of a top manager is the ongoing effort to pursue them.


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