Tom Hryhorysak Project Manager, North America
Over the last 60 years, the concept of continuous improvement has been embraced by most industries as a means of achieving excellence and it’s often a key element in corporate success. But interestingly, over the course of my two decades working with organizations in the engineering industry, I’ve found that many overlook the power of this approach to improve the way they work.
While engineering companies generally do see the value in regularly improving their products, the engineering processes involved tend to change very little, leaving huge potential for improvement untapped. If you expect production excellence, surely you should also expect engineering excellence.
Does this resonate with you? If so, your engineering processes may be ripe with continuous improvement possibilities, or as I like to refer to them, opportunities for excellence.
So where do you start? Your first step should be to ask your engineering leadership how they currently measure performance, then ask a couple of your engineers the same question. If the responses are nearly identical and both were able to show you and explain current performance metrics, the signs are good. However, before you move on to focus on other areas of your business, it may be wise to dig a little deeper into the metrics to ensure they align with your corporate strategy and culture.
From our experience though, the engineering leadership response to the question is to justify not measuring performance at all, perhaps due to extreme variation in project scope or sheer complexity. Even when the engineering leadership is able to show and explain how they measure performance, often when individual engineers are asked how performance is measured, they respond that they don’t know.
Either of these last two scenarios should raise a red flag. In order for metrics to drive performance, they must be transparent and understood throughout the organization. In a production environment, this is often achieved through the use of a visual dashboard and shift huddles. These both keep track of how well the team and the technology they’re working with are performing and ensure everyone is aware of progress towards clear goals.
We often find engineers frustrated because their managers don’t communicate their expectations effectively. How can they be confident that they are working on the right priorities or performing to the expectations of the business without open, clearly understood goals and metrics? And how can you build passion for excellence within an engineering team when its members are not able to measure the impact of their efforts?
These problems could all be solved by putting proven tools in place, which will then help to drive engineering performance.
At Renoir we develop and implements effective performance monitoring solutions and tailor them to suit each organization. The possibilities range from simple data entry dashboards to complex project portfolio management tools. But in all cases, the solutions provide meaningful metrics and transparency throughout the organization.
So as you review the performance of your business, don’t let complexity or extreme variation stand in the way of measuring progress towards excellence.
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