The new year has rolled around again, and most people have gone through their annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, and goal setting for the year ahead.
Most businesses and departments would have already gone through their goal setting exercises already (at least those with a financial year ending in December), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t review your goals for the year and make adjustments.
Have you set the right goals?
I’m not going to go through setting IT goals, but just offer a few tips on ensuring that better goals are set. I’ll do this by asking three questions.
Do they integrate with the business goals?
I use the word ‘integrate’ over the word ‘align’ as the latter implies that IT is separate and apart from the business, when it should not be so. Business and IT goals go hand-in-hand, as IT not only helps the business achieves its goals, but also to create new goals to achieve.
- Have your spoken to your stakeholders and executives?
- Have you suitably educated them on what they can reasonably achieve with existing technology
- Have you used new technology to influence the business goals?
- Have you showed them what else they can achieve by using new technology?
- Have you taken account of the existing business goals?
Not all goals may be IT related, but IT may nonetheless help.
What about employees?
Have you taken account of your employee goals? Employees that find meaning and purpose in their jobs perform better.
Have you collaborated with your employees? Employee engagement helps improve productivity, quality of work, quality of health and reduce turnover
Are they SMART?
You’ve probably heard about SMART goals before, all businesses have. Yet, we still have goals such as “improve customer satisfaction”. SMART goals are more than just a hype, it is way of setting better goals and objectives.
Your goals should be:
The goal should be as specific as possible. For example we can set a goal that “80% of customers choose a rating of 4 and above on a scale of 5 as to how satisfied they are with our service.”
I would suggest finding the root cause of customer dissatisfaction and creating smaller, more specific goals towards reducing those causes, but I won’t go into that for the purpose of this example.
We should be able to measure the goal. In this case we would have a survey at the end of every service to determine what their satisfaction is with the service.
Can the goal be attained or achieved? Do you know what small steps you can take to reach it?
Improving customer satisfaction may not be possible if the problem is that sales consistently give customers the wrong information, or if the technical issues are due to limitations of the systems being used.
Realistic and Relevant
Is the goal realistic? For example, current customer satisfaction is 20%, can we realistically expect a jump to 80%? The optimist may say yes, the realist says no.
Also, is the goal relevant? If IT has no impact on external customer satisfaction, then why is that goal there to begin with?
Goals should be given a time for completion. Improve customer satisfaction to 80% by when? End of the year? Six months? It needs to be stated. Of course, that time frame should also be attainable and realistic.
What not to do?
I can’t say (or rather won’t say) what your goals should be for this year, but I would give some tips on what not to do.
Buy technology because it’s shiny and new
Don’t fall for the hype that analysts and tech journalists put out there. Always do a proper analysis first and decide whether such technology is suitable for your business.
Believe vendors when they say that you need something
I’ve seen this many times. Most businesses depend on vendors to provide them with truthful and accurate information, but this is sometimes not the case. Vendors usually have their own interest in mind, and sometimes let that conflict gets in the way of their best judgment. Review the information on your own and do your own research that you may make a more educated decision.
Not invest in training and continuous improvement
In tough economies, and slow growth, many businesses cut back on expenses, with training being one of the first to grow. I’ve always thought this contradictory thinking. How can you grow your business if you don’t grow the capabilities of your people? Grow your intellect and grow your people, and the business will grow
Plus you will learn what new goals to add for next year.