February and March are often cold and dreary in much of the country, but there are a few days of sunshine that let you know brighter days are on their way. I utilize this “slow season” for evaluation of our systems and my team. No matter what industry you are in, or what job function you have, there will always be sales people and or industry experts that tell you there is a new or better system out there. Some cold call you, some you have known for years, and some might just be lucky and find their way in front of you. A lot of people find it difficult to evaluate their systems. This may be because they are the ones that chose the current system or the ones that made it work, and they know how hard of a process that was and why should they go through that again. 

Evaluation is a crucial responsibility of anyone directly or indirectly involved in project management. The main reason you do this is because you have stakeholders, and, ethically, you need to always make decisions based on their best interest. This may seem like a small thing, but it really is not. You need to really research these ideas and proposals and compare them to what you have along with what your short and long term objectives are. You may not be able to make these kinds of decisions, but you have an obligation to gather as much information as possible and really evaluate all possibilities to the scope that you possess in your company. 

Gathering the research is the easy part; there will be an abundance of this information. Utilizing this information through tools and different techniques is the hard part. This is where experience and collaboration really come in. The most important thing to remember is that there is a real possibility that what you have is not the best fit for what you need, and that it might make more sense to change now, rather than to suffer later. 

The second major project I do during this month is group evaluation. I review company and department objectives both from this year as well as last year to determine if any shifts have been made. I review my goals from the past year and my group’s past year goals. I then have my group do 360 degree evaluations on each other, their direct reports, myself and my direct report. I gather this information, put it into a report and distribute the results of this report. Based on this, I work with my direct report to obtain my groups overall goals and my personal goals. I then work with my group to develop their goals. This process is time consuming but really highlights the direction the company is moving and what our part is to help get the company to its ultimate goal. 

Vendors or stakeholders all expect that you have growth and spend less, and you have to do this more quickly than ever before. It’s a challenge. 

Next month brings procurement. It is a time to spend some of that hard earned budget to make sure you have the tools necessary to succeed. I will talk about this process in detail next time. 

Oscar Murray is the IT Manager for shipping applications at Ditan, Inc. He can be reached at oscar.murray@ditan.com