Creating a management system

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Whether you are building a new team or launching a new project, you’ll need to establish a management system to keep things on track. If you are stepping into an established role, you will want to evaluate the management system that already exists.

Yourdictionary.com defines a management system as “setting the goals and objectives, outlining the strategies and tactics and developing the plans, schedules and necessary controls to the organization.”

Core elements of the management system

There are a lot of pieces to a good management system and many teams don’t have a formal system. Let’s start with the core elements.

  • Objectives

  • Measure of success / KPI’s

  • Key Stakeholders

  • Organization structure

  • Project timelines

  • Meeting structure and cadence

  • R&R

  • Key Skills

If you want to create a consistent culture and environment, you need common definitions of each of these things that everyone shares.

Objectives

Let’s start with objectives. There are organization wide objectives and department or project objectives. How and where your team spends their time should be largely impacted by the core objectives of your department. Which, ideally, are completely aligned to the overall organization objectives. It’s helpful to be able to express your team’s objectives in the context of the overall organizational strategy.

Measure of success

Your measure of success is driven by however success is defined for your project or department. For example, if your department is responsible for delivering company wide translations your measure of success may include a volume of translations, an average turn around time and a quality control and/or satisfaction measure.

Key Performance Indicators

So based on the measure of success, you define Key Performance Indicators. These are measurable items for which you define the bar of success. Back to the translation department, that could look something like this :

  • # of projects (or words or pages or….) per person/per month

  • # of days to project completion

  • # of iterations required to get to end of job

  • # of edits to first version

  • Level of customer satisfaction

If reporting isn’t already available, you’ll want to identify some desired KPI’s and then research potential sources. If it is available, you’ll want to evaluate if it is providing you insight to whether or not you are on track with actionable information. If you only establish indicators for the end result (revenue for example) vs indicators for number of deals needed and average win ratio,  you will find yourself looking at a bunch of numbers with no actionable information.

Establishing a reporting system from scratch

The following steps can be used to break down the job of establishing KPI’s and a reporting system from scratch.

  • Research

  • Look at existing data

  • Discuss key metrics with stakeholders

  • Understand sources for data – both potential and existing

  • Identify a small number of KPI’s

  • Shop your suggested KPI’s with stakeholders

  • Create a reporting “package” to be your reference document

    • Top sheet with a summary of KPI’s and status

    • One page per KPI with example of data and documented sourcing and instructions

  • Shop it around, take feedback, revise

Don’t be shy to go ahead and get started. Identify just a few KPI’s and start using them. You’ll end up fleshing out the missing ones naturally.

Communication cadence and content

You’ll want to make sure you communicate on a regular cadence with all your stakeholders. Set up a calendar, which captures not only your key meetings and deadlines, but also key meetings which roll up your information and require your input.

For each meeting, think through the :

  • Objective

  • Participants

  • Frequency

  • Input which should be used

  • output which is expected

Team structure and R&R

Document your org structure along with the roles and responsibilities of the team and extended team. Along with your org structure, you’ll want to capture the core skills on the team vs the skills which are required. This will help you set up a road map to

  • help current employees bridge a gap

  • have a hiring strategy

Map out your overall timeline with milestones. For each milestone, document the expected output. Use the timeline in conversations and meetings with your stakeholders.

Just get started

All this is definitely something that will take some time to refine and optimize. Don’t let that overwhelm you. Start documenting a timeline for each area of the system. So if we use the example of establishing reporting, you might lay out the following timeline ;

Research – 2 weeks
Shop list of KPI’s with stakeholders – 2 weeks
Build reporting package – 2 weeks.

Create goals for yourself for each part of your management system and keep chipping away at them until… Voila! you have your management system up and running and life is so much easier!