End of Year Evaluation
Now that we are approaching the 4th Quarter of 2014, if your company is based on the calendar year it is time to start wrapping up your 2014 IT initiatives and begin considering what your targets are going to be for 2015.
One of the best places to start this process is by taking a step back and looking at how you are doing on that year’s initiatives. Let’s face it, as we prepare for a new year we set our goals for what we want to achieve. During the year, we are down in the trenches fighting towards the goals we have set. The fall is an excellent time to climb out of that trench and see what you have accomplished so far. This opportunity to make an honest evaluation of the year’s initiatives (company focus or client focused) should not be passed by lightly. Has your company’s situation changed while you were in the trenches? Do the goals still make as much sense as the day you committed to it? How is your staff holding up to the metrics set? Does an objective look at the numbers match the perceptions of the stakeholders? How is the budget?
September can be an excellent time to decide if the plan you committed to in January needs adjustment, re-investment of time/materials, or even cancellation. Blindly following the same path without the an honest appraisal of the initiative can lead to simply continuing down a bad road in the upcoming year with time and treasure lost on a goal that is no longer critical to the success of your company. Don’t be shy about using your competition to determine how you are doing? Do you see your competition using new technology that could influence your target market? Has the company shifted goals without considering the impact of the IT initiatives already accepted?
By taking the time to do this before the 4th quarter begins, you have an opportunity to assess progress and decide if you’re going to be able to complete on-time/on-budget or if the initiatives are lagging. If they are lagging... why? Can you get the initiative caught up? Usually, there is time to correct the drift and get back on track, bring on new staff, or outside help. Being proactive with calls to action in September can drive to the goal in December.
This quarter is also an excellent time to assess your IT staff. In the new year, we will be overwhelmed with new projects and conflicting priorities. Trying to do comprehensive staff evaluations at this time can drain energy and dilute focus that is desperately needed to get initiatives off the ground. Use the last few months of the year when budgets are tight, clients are slowing down work, and focus is drifting to the holidays to review your staff. This could be an excellent time to give your IT employees new goals for technology competencies. As work slows they can ramp up on training to hit the new year with new skills.
Management should take the last few months of the year to assess themselves. How has the management team grown as individuals and as a group over the year? Have you been so busy shepherding the company that you are going to lose vacation time if you don’t use it? Planning in September to take a long weekend or even a week by the end of year can be just the inspiration you need to finish the year strong.
Don’t wait for management or a supervisor to evaluate you... assess yourself! How have you done this year? Did you grow professionally and personally? Did a promotion you wanted still seem far away? This is a great time to schedule time with your boss to discuss a game plan to get to that promotion. Should you plan on some vacation for yourself? Winter is a great time to head south for sun and fun. Use your self-evaluation to set your own goals for the end of year and beyond.
These few suggestions show why, starting now, the end of year can be so productive. Assess your progress on current IT initiatives, your company, and your future goals now before the end of year (and the beginning of next year) crush all your bandwidth. This month is end of quarter which is a good time to look at numbers and we are not quite into the various holidays which will pull you in a thousand different directions. A week spend in honest contemplation can set you on a smooth path to success.